Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Those who are the real trendsetters

by Rick Blechta

I was never a huge fan of the music of David Bowie, but I will readily admit I've always respected that he was a huge influence on the pop world, fashion world and initiated trends and has influence that will continue into the future. He was also completely fearless in how embraced change, something most of us have trouble with. Certainly the world has seen few with such chameleon-like ability. It wasn’t only in Bowie’s image, but also in his music. Even his new, nearly posthumous, album displays many fresh ideas as does the video to his final single release, “Lazarus”.

Wading through the news and commentary about his life and death, I got thinking in other channels. Trendsetters like Bowie are actually quite rare in the world. I’m not going to lump Bowie in with people like Galileo, or more recently, visionaries such as Nikola Tesla to name but two. These giants took their world and set it on its ear with their breakthrough thinking. Their influence has been profoundly felt.

Naturally, I also considered who have been the real trendsetters in crime writing, our small corner of the artistic world.

Now, what I’m really interested in is soliciting loyal Type M readers (Okay, even disloyal ones can join in) to respond with their picks as the trendsetters in crime writing.

I’ll kick it off with two: Arthur Conan Doyle for his contribution of Sherlock Holmes and that character’s far-reaching influence, and Agatha Christie for her panoply of characters, but most especially her Miss Marple series, arguably the first of what are now known as “cozies”.

I could go on, but I will leave that up to all of you. Who gets your nomination as a trendsetter in crime writing — and why?

As for David Bowie, I think the artistic world will really miss him. You owe it to yourself to watch the video for “Lazarus”. It is brilliant, it is unsettling, and like everything else Bowie did, fiercely creative.

I think the world could use a lot more people like David Bowie.


Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I have to give a nod to Walter Mosley when it comes to his impact on both historical crime fiction and modern crime fiction featuring protagonists of color.

Rick Blechta said...

Good choice -- and he's an excellent writer, as well. If you haven't read Mosley, you're in for a treat. Easy Rawlins is a terrific character.

Thanks, Frankie.

Anyone else?

Jared Case said...

In my world, I'm always looking at the cross-pollination of literature and film, specifically in film noir, and there are a group of writers from the '20s to the '40s without whom film noir would not exist, or look much, much different than what we know. Writers like Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Dorothy B. Hughes, Vera Caspary, and my personal favorite of the bunch, Dashiell Hammett, wrote many of the novels classic films noir were based on. Those films provided the template not only for original screenplays but also future novel writers to take and evolve according to their own sensibilities.

Vicki Delany said...

Going back to the beginning, it's Wilkie Collins. The first to use the detective (in a novel), the McGuffin, the red herring, the cast of suspects. All the tropes we use today, he was the first.

Rick Blechta said...

Jared and Vicki, thanks for weighing in.

Jared, I think Hammett or Chandler should be on our informal list because they're the most widely read. Certainly hard-boiled crime fiction wouldn't be the way it is without the writing of these people.

Vicki, Wilkie Collins (about whom I was not that familiar, but brought myself up to speed) should certainly be on the list.

Anyone else want to comment?