Is crime good for crime writers?
Yes, says Ken Bruen, who said he "didn’t want to write about Ireland until we got mean streets. We sure got ’em now."
Yes, say Roger Smith, who told Detectives Beyond Borders that "During the apartheid years, writing crime fiction in South Africa seemed beside the point. But now, sadly, South Africa is one of the most crime-ravaged countries in the world, and writing crime seems all too appropriate" and Wessel Ebersohn, who said: "If violence is what you want to write about, South Africa is the place to be."
Maybe, says Deon Meyer, who tells BOOK Southern Africa that "Real world crime (everywhere) is mostly sad, sordid, domestic, related to alcohol and drug abuse and tragic socio-economic circumstances. Crime fiction asks for intriguing, often sensational, always wrapped in riddles ... the sort of thing that is very scarce in reality."
Over in Iceland, where almost no one gets murdered, authors such as Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurdardòttir have said that such killings as there are tend to be similarly petty, a drunken brawl that gets out of hand, say. Maybe that's why they turn to history, geography, hints of the supernatural — and their own imaginations.
Smith, cited as exemplifying the proposition that real-world influence on crime fiction is decisive, filters that belief through a rich lens of techniques and influences from crime fiction, so there may be no one right answer.
What do you think? Does real-life crime influence crime writers? In what ways?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010