By Steve Weddle
I just don't know anymore, honestly. I mean, have you seen this Guardian article? The one that says a "new wave" of crime writers are bringing female characters "out of the shadows"?
The article says -- and perhaps the common argument is -- that publishers don't like women writing noir, that women should write series characters in more traditional mysteries.
Yes. Let's base our reading on that. Let's end up with Twilight fanfiction and committee-written thrillers, shall we?
These dumb arguments go on about how women authors shouldn't be pigeon-holed. Then the article -- this one, many like it -- will list some more women authors who shouldn't be pigeon-holed.
Here are a few women writers who are breaking barriers. Let's box them all into this neat little Women Authors of Noir Books, okay?
Flynn has at least three well-received books out, all of which have movie deals tied to them, I hear.
Christa Faust has been at this for many, many years, as has Megan Abbott. All have written fantastic books.
I hope those three sell a billion books by lunch. My lovely bride and I listened to GONE GIRL on a recent roadtrip and, you know, holy wows and all.
But just because some reporter at a magazine or newspaper or website stumbled across something doesn't make it a new wave. Maybe it's an old wave you should have been paying attention to. Maybe it's not a wave at all. Maybe it's the tide coming in. Maybe it's the ocean rising. Maybe it's an iceberg, with a billion other writers underneath. (Probably went a little long with that, didn't I? Sorry.)
Oh, and GONE GIRL isn't noir. mkay?
And, yet, it's fantastic to see our friends and neighbors in the Guardian and at the Gawker sites and all over the best-seller lists.
What happens is that the media -- reporters, bloggers, whoevs -- cover this as if it were a sudden, new phenomenon. What happens is that, traditionally, these trends themselves don't have much staying power. Burns bright for a moment, then coverage fizzles.
When you're only covering something because it's trendy, the next trend displaces it.
Vampires. Zombies. Women authors.
Faust and Flynn and Abbott aren't women authors. They're amazing authors.
Having them covered in the big London paper is fantastic, of course. I guess calling them the Poster Children For Women Writers of Noir can boost sales on these titles. I only hope that each author continues to receive coverage, not because of their womanlinesses, but because of their writerlinesses.
Calling someone a "great regional writer" hurts as often as it helps.
Talent and hard-work have put these authors where they are. They should be on every shelf because of that, because of their great writing.
I'm looking forward to the time when authors such as these can have that extra adjective dropped.
When they become "authors" instead of "women authors" or "regional authors" or "genre authors."
When they're covered, not because their books are trendy, but because they're just flat-out terrific.
When they sell a million copies, not because they're writing about "women's issues" of family and cancer and divorce and family, but because they're writing books people can't stop talking about.
I'm looking forward to the day authors are on talk shows and in newspapers because their books become required reading, not beach reading.
And, I guess, the more readers Faust and Flynn and Abbott can reach, the more likely this is to happen.