I’m going to keep this Monday morning missive short on words but heavy on thinking material.
Last week, Slate ran an article basically suggesting that adults who read YA books should be embarrassed. I won’t add the link because really that’s all you need to know. The whole thing was crap. Total crap. And, as you can imagine, it made a lot of people in the YA community very, very angry.
This isn’t a YA blog. Most of us here at Mysteristas don’t write in that category at all. But this is an important topic for mystery writers. Because occasionally, just like adult romance writers, we get called out by our own writerly kind for being … soft. Not literary. Fluff. Published solely for the for pure entertainment value.
Which is ridiculous.
But there it’s there in black and white in articles just like the one that bashed YA last week. There are plenty, but honestly, it’s worse when it comes from one of us. The most recent and horrible example being comments Isabel Allende made about mystery writing on the eve of the release of her book, Ripper. Which is a mystery, by the way. That she wrote because her agent thought it would be a good idea. Her words to NPR:
“The book is tongue in cheek. It’s very ironic … and I’m not a fan of mysteries, so to prepare for this experience of writing a mystery I started reading the most successful ones in the market in 2012. … And I realized I cannot write that kind of book. It’s too gruesome, too violent, too dark; there’s no redemption there. And the characters are just awful. Bad people. Very entertaining, but really bad people. So I thought, I will take the genre, write a mystery that is faithful to the formula and to what the readers expect, but it is a joke. My sleuth will not be this handsome detective or journalist or policeman or whatever. It will be a young, 16-year-old nerd. My female protagonist will not be this promiscuous, beautiful, dark-haired, thin lady. It will be a plump, blond, healer, and so forth.”
Even though she apologized, it’s not like she can take those words back. And I know plenty of people who won’t read Ripper or any of her other books now out of spite.
My point here is that no matter what we choose to read or write, I think we should own it. Don’t you? Life’s too short to judge ourselves by what we find entertaining and it’s certainly too silly to judge others for what they like either.