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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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crime fiction in the news

I'm quite enjoying the use of Google's personalized home page to display my most commonly used bookmarks, snippets from the first 6-7 messages in my Inbox, 3-4 of my favourite news and other syndicated feeds, plus the live results from two of my current favourite Google News searches (examples 1 and 2), although I'm brimming over with suggestions for additions and improvements. If I have time, I'll see if I can find a quick yet effective (i.e. impactful) way to send these suggestions to the developers at Google Labs who are the ones responsible for these new add-ons.

(On a related note, Google's blog search engine returns several results from my LJ community nonduality for its blog search on nonduality. Trippiness abounds. This is a reminder to me that I should be more active in that community, too.)

Anyway, a recent crime fiction news search (see example 1 above) yielded an interesting article and interview about UK poet David Harsent's recent Forward prize win for his collection of war poems called Legion. What I found most interesting was that this poet also writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Stella Mooney. From the interview:
I'm not really a detective novelist, like that. My detective fiction sells pretty well, and my publishers are quite happy but I'm not a bestseller, I haven't got a profile like PD James or Dan Brown so it's not true to say I'm better know for crime fiction. I'm doing pretty well but I'm not a household name.

All poets have to have day jobs. I used to be a bookseller and then a publisher, a lot of people teach and we all have to try and make a living as nobody can make a living just from poetry. For example, Robin Robertson is a publisher, the poetry editor of Cape, and Don Patterson is the poetry editor of Picador. I didn't want to teach or go on being a publisher because it was too demanding of my time. So I decided to try to make my living by my pen and I quite like thrillers.

There's also a tradition of literary novelists and poets writing crime fiction - Julian Barnes under a pseudonym, Gore Vidal, former poet laureate Cecil Day Lewis was Nicholas Blake and he wrote whodunits. There is even a rumour that TS Eliot wrote a piece of crime fiction and Joyce Carol Oates wrote them under the name of Rosamund Smith.

There are two things to say about writing crime fiction: one, I enjoy doing it - it's fun. And two, it beats the hell out of going to the office!
Now, it's fairly common to read about crime fiction writers (and many other kinds of fiction writers, for that matter) who haven't been successful enough to quit their day jobs yet. (And as author James Lincoln Warren points out, practically nobody except Edward D. Hoch actually makes a living at short crime fiction.) But it's another thing entirely to hear about a poet who has a day job as a crime fiction novelist. Lucky bastard.

(In personal writing news, my short murder story is still progressing quite well, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit concerned at its growing length. It's currently sitting at over 10,000 words and the murder itself is probably 1,000 words away. My approach right now is to keep writing until the whole story is down, and then I'll start an aggressive editing process to cut out the dead wood and tighten the language overall. I'm still hoping to have a good working draft completed by the end of November, with crits (from writing friends, from this LJ and from OWW-SFF) plus subsequent revisions completed by year-end. Then I'll start peddling it to prospective publishers, and as yet I have no idea what to expect from that process...)