Tuesday, November 15, 2016

More than politics may change

by Rick Blechta

First of all, sorry about not posting anything last week. My Tuesday (actually, my entire week) got away from me, and though I started the following post, I just never got back to it. This week isn’t much better, but the end is in sight. Plus, I’m not going to miss my spot two weeks in a row!

The political landscape is changing, not only in the US but all over the world. These changes are quite troubling to many of us (Chin up, Charlotte!), but what can we do except live through it and try to make it all work (plus stay vigilant and change whatever we can if we don’t like the way things are going).

Actually, on more than just the political front, our planet has become a much scarier place. If you follow world news extensively, it’s easy to become nearly paralyzed by what you see and hear, and that’s not a good thing.

But cogitating on reality’s dreadfulness, it made me think that fiction may change to compensate. And specifically, how might that affect crime fiction? Here’s my thought and we’ll just have to wait and see if I’ve hit on something or not.

Many of us read crime fiction because we like being drawn into “alternate realities”, meaning the little universe each author has created. If something in the characters, plots or situations resonates with us, we’re more than happy to read (sometimes devour voraciously) an entire series because we enjoy being in the characters’ world. Often our journey is escapist in nature. With the world a scarier place, escape becomes even more attractive, doesn’t it?

Nowhere is escapism more apparent than in “cozy” crime fiction. A good cozy creates a comfortable place to be, quite often far removed from harsh reality. When writing a cozy, the author can indulge in building whatever idealized universe they want. It is inherent in hardboiled crime fiction to portray the world in its harshness, in fact, many hardboiled novels revel in harsh reality. Authors can still “sanitize” things somewhat — not injecting current events into their plots/ignoring things that are going on in the real world, thus creating a somewhat idyllic space for their characters — but the novels’ “realities” will still not be very comforting.

So I have to questions to put to you. First, will more people take to escapist reading as the world darkens, specifically will crime fiction rise higher in popularity? Second, we will see growing strength in the numbers of cozies being published?

Now and then, it would be nice to disappear into a kinder and gentler world, wouldn’t it? More than ever, we need that.


Rick Blechta said...

I just read Aline's post from yesterday (shame on me for not reading it yesterday!), and she's basically saying much of what I did.

Is everyone going to start writing cozies? It might not be a bad thing.

Donna S said...

When world events get me down, I escape to past books that I have liked and I re read them. That way, I know what the ending will be and I feel more secure. Maybe it is crazy but it works for me.

Rick Blechta said...

You know, Donna, I've found myself doing the same thing -- and probably for the same reason now that I think of it. Same thing with DVDs we own.

Maybe back lists will become more important. Huzzah!

Donis Casey said...

Very insightful, Rick. I use past historical events in my books as a way to comment on the present. It's odd how people never learn.

Eileen Goudge said...

Great post, Rick. Escapist reading, yes. As (bad) luck would have it, the presidential election coincided with an accident I sustained on a gun range (doing research for a novel). No, I wasn't shot. But I sustained hearing loss, hopefully temporary, due to ear protection failure. I literally, as in physically, could not read anything that wasn't feel-good, so I dove into Vicky Delaney's cozy, "God Rest Ye Murdered Gentleman." Just the antidote I needed. I also read the latest Donnna Ball mystery, Land of the Free. Excellent, as are all her books, and I'm not just saying that because she's my critiique partner. More cozies to come until the dust settles both personally and at large.

Rick Blechta said...

Sorry to learn of your troubles, Eileen. Thank you (to all, actually) for the kind remarks.

I've been reading Vicki's book, too, and it is comforting. She's created a lovely world.

As for your current challenge, I will say this: People don't realize how dangerous it can be to write crime fiction.

Get better quickly!