Val McDermid suggested during her interview of Bouchercon's international guest of hono(u)r, Denise Mina, that an author's working-class background can lend her books a hard edge.
Mina agreed, suggesting, among other things, that "crap jobs are good for dialogue."
Mina said she left school at 14, not for those crap jobs, at least not at first, but rather to sit around and smoke and watch TV. She later attended university and became an academic, though she says she misused her grant money by writing a novel instead. She went on to become a great success as a novelist, graphic novelist and cultural critic. If a working-class edge is so important, I asked her, how does one maintain that edge in the face of success?
"That's a brilliant question," she said. One of her ways is through charitable efforts whose benefits go directly to the people who need them. One current effort, she said, gets people into higher education.
What's your take? What does a writer's background bring to his or her fiction? What does a working-class background bring? Can a posh author write crime fiction with an edge?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010