I usually back away from controversy, but I'm shaking my head over the discussion over in the Forum about must-read authors. In 48 posts so far, counting my last one, only Sandra Scoppettone and I have dared to ask "Where are the women?" and "Where are the traditional mysteries?" And so far nobody has so much as commented on the fact that the heirs of Hammett and Chandler hold up only half the sky. I haven't felt so invisible since way back near the beginning of the women's movement. Wondering what I'll get with this post. Support? Hostility? Silence?

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Comment by MC Halliday on December 7, 2007 at 8:25am
As a new member, I should like to say first that am a woman who writes noir mystery and bend toward the far, far right of dark. My tales are knife sharp psychological who-dun-its and not for the faint of heart...
Comment by Dana Stabenow on October 5, 2007 at 5:29pm
Interesting thread, and obviously pushing buttons all over the site. Reminds me of meeting Elmer Grape for the first time and him telling me how hard it was to get men to read crime fiction written by women. Sometimes it took years to put Paretsky into a guy's hands but once he got the reader to walk out of the store with it, Elmer said, he always came back for more. Conversely, I know women who refuse to read anything written by a man.

They're all missing out. It's the writing that matters. Is it a good story, or isn't it? Gender doesn't mean squat.
Comment by Gemma Halliday on September 27, 2007 at 11:30am
Raising hand… well, here’s one.

I think what Nikki said about crime fiction being an old’s boys club is, to an extent, correct. I’m not complaining, it’s just still thought of as a male dominated genre. My mystery books are actually published by a romance publisher because that’s where the women authors, editor and readers are. Just guessing, but I think one reason mystery is so titled toward the male author side is that female readers have no problem reading a book from a male author, but some male readers have a hard time admitting they enjoy female authors. (Obviously not talking about the male readers here, but trust me, they do exist.)
Comment by Charlotte Williamson on September 27, 2007 at 2:01am
Elizabeth,
You're reight about the women authors. If people pay close attention, you'll see that male authors get the big-screen movies made of their books, while the women get television movies made of their books. I joined Sisters in Crime. It's a national organization that fights for equality for female authors. Check it out. www.SistersinCrime.org
Comment by James K. Bashkin on September 26, 2007 at 2:18am
p.s. Yes, "puke" definitely piques my interest! I just read about a lot of it in Jonathan Lethem's "You Don't Love Me Yet" (along with playing in a band, kidnapped kangaroos, performance art, sex, relationships, the art world, introverted guitar players, much drinking, and more sex). I don't know why but I found extensive binge-drinking in 20-somethings a bit distasteful, though I never feel this was about older detectives who drink (it can be sad, but I can handle reading about it). Maybe because I have a teenage son, it was too close to home?
Comment by James K. Bashkin on September 26, 2007 at 1:51am
I read tons of women writers, and also have been writing about them.

My blog has only been up since Sept 1, and so far I've reviewed or discussed or mentioned books by Cara Black (did I say Cara Black? She is really good), Charlotte Jay (anyone remember her? The first ever Edgar winner; thanks SOHO!), Daphne Du Maurier (just a mention, but one that should resonate since it includes The Birds, Rebecca and Don't Look Now), Faye Kellerman (I;ve read all of her books and am a big fan), Karen Fossum (read!), Katherine Neville (I can't say I'm a huge fan, but I liked The Eight and think it blows Da Vince Code out of the the water, especially in quality of writing and language), the late Magdalen Nabb (these books are terrific- I'm just getting started with her body of work), Minette Walters (perhaps the only writer to scare the heck out of me in about 30 years), P. D. James, and Patricia Cornwell. Sylia Path is mentioned in passing. And I haven't gotten to Patricia Carlon (Australia) or Batya Gur (Israel) or Linda Barnes or many others. I also read (or have read) a good fraction of the other women writers mentioned by others here (Paretsky (everything), Rendell, Grafton (every book), Ngaio Marsh, Scottoline, Sayers), and those are just in the crime/thriller genre for the most part. Martha Cooley's The Archivist is one of the best books I've read, and Helen Schulman's The Revisionist is excellent.

So, thanks for the wake-up call. I hadn't been following the posts much, partly since I hadn't had any response to mine (perhaps uninteresting, except to Ali, thanks!), and mostly because I have been trying to write a bit for my own site Nearly Nothing but Novels. However, I'm happy to chip in a few cents, kronor etc.
Comment by I. J. Parker on September 26, 2007 at 1:46am
Apparently we are re-opening the topic. I don't think I was around when it first burst on the scene, so I will answer the two questions: Where are the women? and where are the traditional mysteries?
Actually, I was under the impression that both outnumber their opposites (or others) in sales and authors.
To answer: 1) I don't write as a woman. I write as a writer. This distinction is important to me.
2) The "traditional mystery" may refer either to "cozies" or to mysteries where the solution of a complex puzzle takes place. I'm not sure which was intended here. I don't write cozies because I want as much realism as possible. I do write puzzle mysteries, though I'm increasingly veering away from this because the plotting hamstrings me and detracts from what I really want: character development.
Comment by Kat on March 23, 2007 at 9:55pm
It is an interesting topic. For me mysteries have always featured women starting with Nancy Drew. I mean what little girl doesn't idolize a 16 y/o who drives a convertible, has no mom to fight with and a dad who pretty much lets her do whatever she wants.

When I was in my teens and twenties there were far less stories featuring women but thankfully that has changed a lot in the past several years. Now most of the books and series I buy are by women authors and about women characters. Nothing against men, but really I just don't relate. And for me at least the women write richer, fuller stories, because really the mystery is just one part of the whole. The character development, motivation, and setting are equally important.
Comment by J.D. Rhoades on March 14, 2007 at 4:36am
If Cornelia Reads this (what a great name for a writer!), I'd like to hear if she considers her excellent first book hardboiled.

And this is where the hardboiled/traditional lines begin to blur into invisibility. Yup, the main character uses the "f" word a lot. But she comes from money, like Lord Peter Wimsey. But she's not personally rich, and lives in a gritty industrial town. But etc. etc. etc. What are we to do?

Just read it. You won't care what "subgenre" it is. You'll just know the book is excellent.
Comment by Angie on March 14, 2007 at 3:55am
FIELD OF DARKNESS is far darker than what I consider traditional mysteries to be. Not just because of the profanity, but the level of violence. It's way more in line with hard-boiled than the classic who-dunnit. Then again, that's what happens when you start splitting genre hairs. Opinions will differ.

It's pretty evident that there are a variety of women who are excellent writers. That said, I'm not going to choose fav books or writers based on gender. My choices are about who's writing the books I like. And that's all that they are -my choices. I'm not up for a big debate about the rights/wrongs or shoulds/woulds of my choices, or the choices of others, much less parsing sentences to determine if an insult was made. Takes up too much time and energy I'd rather put into reading, writing, editing, etc.

Debate's a good thing. Getting caught up in a spin cycle doesn't do much for anyone, though.

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