9 June 2008

Dangers of being a genre novelist

I was struck by a comment by Irish novelist John Connolly today in an article titled Reaping Chills with John Connolly.

When I sit down to write a book it’s because it’s something I really want to write. Sometimes it’s something that’s led me away from crime fiction altogether. There is a difficulty in being a genre novelist; as you achieve an amount of success, there’s pressure to repeat that success, to do pretty much the same thing. ...... I recognize this dependence I have on a certain readership, and sometimes that comes into conflict with the desire to take chances.
The preamble to the article said

Dublin, Ireland-based author John Connolly is best known for his series of crime thrillers starring eternally haunted private eye Charlie “Bird” Parker. Filled with tensely quiet, isolated
settings and distinctive, spooky antagonists, Connolly’s novels increasingly flirt with the supernatural—a realm explored in more depth in standalone works “The Book of Lost Things” and the story collection “Nocturnes.” Those elements aren’t as prevalent in his latest book, “The Reapers,” which focuses on Louis, a former hired killer whose past threatens to catch up to him with deadly results.
I discovered that the only Connolly novel in my database is BLACK ANGEL (I gave it a rating of 4.7)
The rebel angels fell, garlanded with fire…. Charlie Parker has got his life back together, and is settled with a new girlfriend and a new daughter, Sam. But in New York City Martha is looking for her daughter Alice and when she doesn't find her, she calls in a favour from Louis, Charlie Parker's right hand man. Martha turns up at Sam's christening party. As he investigates, Charlie realises that Alice's disappearance goes further than the streets of New York, and is linked to events as old as time itself. In fact to the fall of the angels.. Read the prologue at http://www.johnconnollybooks.com/novels_ba.php
This book would appeal to those of you who like a bit of woo-woo with your mystery/thriller

The reason that the book made such an impression on me, and I think the reason I read it, was that Bob and I were going to Europe for a holiday and were visiting Prague where much of the novel is set. In fact we went on a tour of the old silver mining town of Kutna Hora with its ossiary (see picture), which made BLACK ANGEL seem just that much more "real".

Susan Hill has copped a bit of flack recently with her Simon Serrailler novels for venturing into a new genre - she seems to feel the criticism is coming from publishers and book sellers - she says publishers "panic" because they don't know how to "brand" the books - but I'm also sure I have seen criticism from readers and reviewers who thought she was almost "trespassing". She, like Australian crime fiction author Kerry Greenwood, also writes for children and adolescents.

I must admit, that when I go into a book store, I gravitate to the crime fiction shelves, expecting that is where I will find my favourite authors. RJ Ellory is another who seems to be a bit cross-genre and whose books may be on other shelves.

Speaking of genres though, how many crime fiction authors do you know who have been ghost writers? Can't think of one? Here is one who has been the voice of Lulu, Rolfe Harris, and Toni Bullimore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about ghost writing... and I would love to visit Prague! sorry, I think I'm commenting just to comment. Have a great day!


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