Crime fiction, film and television are extremely popular among readers and viewers worldwide. Fiction writers are often categorized, listed and known for their particular genre; be it crime, mystery, romance, horror, science fiction and so on. Genre is defined by Merriam-Webster as a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content. And as stated by Joyce Carol Oates in The New York Review of Books, “In genre fiction there is an implied contract between writer and reader that justice of a kind will be exacted; ‘good’ may not always triumph over ‘evil’, but the distinction between the two must be honored.”
I have often been asked why I chose mystery and crime fiction as my literary genre. It might be more accurate to say that the genre chose me; and to add that a particular genre is simply the vehicle in which the writer journeys through the landscape he or she is compelled to explore. In my experience as a reader it is the theme and not the plot of a novel that carries universal and lasting impact; making the particular genre secondary to the thoughts and feelings which the writer is consciously or unconsciously driven to express. Crime and Punishment, Les Misérables, The Count of Monte Cristo are, on the surface, crime novels; classic literary works that greatly influenced generations of readers and future writers; not as a consequence of their genre, but for their examination of the trials and tribulations of the human experience. Similarly, the same holds for visual art and music. A timeless painting or a lasting musical composition is one that leaves a profound impression on the viewer or the listener; be it renaissance, religious, impressionist, avant-garde, symbolic, dada, classical, folk, country, blues, jazz or rock and roll.
That being said, the selection of crime fiction as my vehicle of choice was a consequence of my exposure to literary works which examined crime and its ramifications and which greatly influenced me as a young man and adult; Dostoyevsky, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson. And by exposure to films like The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, On The Waterfront, Anatomy of a Murder, Witness for the Prosecution, The French Connection, The Godfather and countless others.
So, the question arises. Are we, practitioners of the written word and members of professional guilds like the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers, novelists or crime novelists. And the simple answer is we are writers, willing to use any means of transport which will help us tell our tale and help attract the attention of potential followers.