Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Poll - Violence

I just finished listening to Open Book from a couple of editions ago, the one that featured NJ Cooper and Tania Carver (Martyn Waites).

Publishers apparently wanted a UK equivalent to the best-selling US female writers who have a high violence content in their books such as Chelsea Cain and Karin Slaughter and Martyn Waites said that he could do that. He has now co-written with his wife, The Surrogate and The Creeper. Publishers believe that women love to read about violence against women, written by women. So, what do you think? I've put a poll on the top-right of the blog, to see if you agree or disagree with that statement.


Maxine Clarke said...

How ridiculous. I don't want to read about violence committed against anyone, by anybody. I do think that some people have a funny idea about what constitutes crime fiction. Or maybe I do.
But if anyone is reading books because they want to read about violence being done to other people, then I'm out of here.
It is interesting to learn that "Tania Carver", author of The Surrogate, is in fact at least half a man. I gave up on this novel fairly early on not only because of the purient violence but also because it was so boring and predictable (a similar book is American Devil by Oliver someone). In The Surrogate, someone is sneaking into pregnant women's houses and killing them horribly (and inevitably their foetuses). Guess what - the main police investigator is a pregnant woman.....I just could not bear to read on. Similarly, in American Devil, someone is killing blonde, blue-eyed, petite women. The criminal psychologist concerned is, er, you guessed it, a blonde, petite, etc.....

These books are just so predictable and tedious. Usually they are very badly written at the level a seven year old could understand but of course the subject matter is unsuitable totally (for any age!).

Get a grip, authors, go and write something decent.

LauraR said...

well that rationale has completely put me off The Surrogate, which didn't appeal that much in the first place!

Pat said...

Interesting. I'm not a fan of violence in crime fiction, and especially the kind of gratuitious violence that is becoming more prevalent. I wonder why publishers think we want more of it.
We're doing an event with Martyn Waites (with Mark Billingham and Andrew Taylor at West Brom Library) at the end of the month. Perhaps I'll ask him about this.

Maxine Clarke said...

That would be very interesting, Pat, thank you. I heard a similar debate at Harrogate a couple of years ago and was quite revolted I have to say, by the repeat power-point slides of some horribly detailed torture-y type descriptions from the panellists' works. Quite put me off my lunch ;-)

By the way, I have not provided spoilers here, I've written nothing more than is revealed on the cover blurbs or first chapter, when the plot becomes blindingly obvious.

Maybe I am an unusual form of crime-fiction reader. I like the effects of the crime on, eg a community, place or person/people, so although I don't mind a description of violence if it is part of the basic story, I don't find it interesting to dwell on it for its own sake, in the same sense as I would be bored by reading a description of paint drying.

I also like crime fiction for the puzzle element, of guessing the outcome and/or perpetrator. You don't get any of this aspect with these torture porn novels, as the main "interest" to the reader is the descriptions of various set-piece deaths or other agonies, along with "will the baddie be caught in time before he/she kills someone we like". To me, this is not interesting to read about, as there is no intellectual challenge in it.

kathy d. said...

What? Where do publishers get the idea that women like to read about violence against women? Were women mystery readers polled somewhere? (I don't know any women readers who like this.)

I do not read books by the authors mentioned. In fact, I read a few by Karin Slaughter and stopped as I could not stand the violence against women. And there are other women writers whose books I won't read because of this. (And I do not read books by the multitude of male writers who focus on this horrifying subject.)

I don't like violence against men, children or animals either, but the brutality in every form against women is in way too many books.

I read on a post in the winter that a book editor got very sick of seeing women tortured in books and on covers. She was sick of seeing book covers showing women brutalized in every manner and said that publishers demand that in covers even if the victim is not a woman!

I agree on wanting a good puzzle, interesting characters, creative thinking and introspection, and good writing.

I keep thinking that all of that violence is a substitute for good writing.

But this violence is just pushing the lowest common denominator, devoid of thinking about what one is reading.

Maybe something more sinister is at work. Does the gratuitous violence promote the degradation of women in society, and thus, actual violence against women? And does it reflect publishers' sexist attitudes?

If society from the top down really respected women, would books that promote violence against women be pushed?

Martin Edwards said...

Maxine, you certainly aren't an unusual reader of crime, thank goodness! I haven't read these books, so I can't speak about them, but although violence is at the heart of the crime novel, it does not need to be depicted graphically all the time.