torsdag den 2. april 2009

April - Krimi for Alle

Skrevet af forfatteren Martin Edwards, Cheshire, England, som blandt andet har fået udgivet 13 kriminalromaner. Hans bøger udkommer på engelsk, tysk og italiensk, men desværre ikke på dansk.

Forskellen på mænds og kvinders psykologi er et fascinerende emne. Særlig interessant, i mine øjne, er forskellen på mænds og kvinders tilgang til fiktion – både som læsere og som forfattere. Nogle bøger appellerer selvfølgelig næsten udelukkende til det ene køn. Så vidt jeg ved, er de fleste af Tom Clancys læsere mænd, og de fleste af Anita Brookners er kvinder. Men det betyder meget for mig at mine bøger bliver læst af både mænd og kvinder (helst af så mange medlemmer af begge køn som muligt!) og det er mit klare indtryk, at et stadigt stigende flertal af mine læsere er kvinder.

Mange af mine yndlingsforfattere er kvinder, og jeg har formodentlig flere kvindelige end mandlige venner (det er måske en reaktion på at jeg har gået på drengeskole og et kollegium for mænd i min universitetstid!) I mine tidlige forfatterår tænkte jeg ikke så meget på kønsspørgsmål som jeg gør i dag. Jeg skrev de første romaner, som foregik i Liverpool, med en mandlig tredje-persons fortæller, og kun én synsvinkel. Men efterhånden som jeg fik selvtillid som forfatter, gav jeg mig i kast med at variere min stil. Jeg begyndte med at indføre flere forskellige synsvinkler. Min første hovedperson, Harry Devlin, var advokat i Liverpool, præcis ligesom mig. Harry er ikke mig, men selvfølgelig har vi en del til fælles. Med tiden fik jeg lyst til at forsøge mig med noget nyt og udforske personer, som var meget forskellige fra mig. Min nyeste roman, Dancing for the Hangman, er skrevet fra Doktor Crippens synsvinkel, lægen som blev hængt i 1910 for at myrde sin kone.

At skrive noveller og eksperimentere med dem, hjalp mig med at udvikle mit skrivetalent. I min ottende roman, som ikke er en del af en serie, men en psykologisk thriller med titlen Take My Breath Away, skiftede fortællersynsvinklen mellem den mandlige og den kvindelige hovedperson. Og da jeg begyndte at skrive min Lake District-serie, hvor jeg egentlig havde planlagt at lade den mandlige hovedperson, Daniel Kind, spille hovedrollen, viste det sig snart at han kom til at spille anden violin i forhold til kriminalinspektør Hannah Scarlett.

At jeg nu oftere skriver ud fra en kvindelig synsvinkel er måske én af grundene til at de fleste af de læsere, som besøger mine forfatter-arrangementer, diskuterer mit forfatterskab med mig eller anmelder mine bøger, er kvinder. En anden forklaring kunne være, at der er flere kvinder end mænd, som læser krimier. Forlagsbranchen består i hvert fald fortrinsvis af kvinder – min agent, og de fleste af de redaktører, jeg nogensinde har haft, er kvinder.

En anden idé slår mig. Et centralt emne i Lake District-serien er det forhold, der er ved at udvikle sig mellem Hannah og Daniel. Måske er kvindelige læsere generelt mere optaget af forholdet mellem kønnene end mænd. Det kunne være forklaringen på, at Lake District-bøgerne lader til at appellere mere til kvindelige læsere end de tidlige Liverpool-bøger (selv om kvindelige læsere ofte giver udtryk for, at de synes om personen Harry Devlin).

Uanset hvor sandheden ligger, nyder jeg at forsøge at trænge ind i hovedet på en person som Hannah, hvis liv slet ikke er som mit, men som alligevel appellerer til mig. Jeg er helt afgjort ikke dum nok til at påstå, at jeg virkelig forstår, hvordan kvinder tænker (langt fra!), men at skrive fra en kvindes perspektiv er en rigtig god måde at forsøge at tackle sin usikkerhed.

Crime for All
By crime fiction writer Martin Edwards, Cheshire, UK, author of the Harry Devlin series and the Lake District mysteries.

The difference between the psychological make-up of men and women is a fascinating subject. Especially intriguing, to me, is the difference in the way men and women approach fiction – both as readers, and as writers. Of course, some books appeal almost exclusively to one sex rather than the other. As far as I know, for instance, most of Tom Clancy’s readers are men, and most of Anita Brookner’s are women. But I’m very keen for my own books to be read by both men and women (preferably by as many members as possible of both sexes!) and my strong impression is that an increasingly large majority of my readers are female.

Many of my favourite writers are women, and it’s probably true that I have more female than male friends (perhaps this is a reaction to going to a single-sex school and single-sex college at university!) In my early days as a writer, I didn’t think about gender issues as much as I tend to do nowadays. I wrote my early novels, set in Liverpool, from a male, third person, single viewpoint, perspective. But as I gained in confidence as a writer, I began to ring the changes. I started to introduce additional viewpoints. My first viewpoint character, Harry Devlin, was a Liverpool lawyer, just as I am. Harry is not me, but of course we have some things in common. As time passed, I wanted to spread my wings, and explore characters very different from me. My most recent published novel, Dancing for the Hangman, is written from the point of view of Doctor Crippen, hanged in 1910 for murdering his wife.

Writing, and experimenting with, short stories, helped to develop my skills. With my eighth book, a stand-alone novel of psychological suspense called Take My Breath Away, the viewpoint kept switching between the male protagonist and the female protagonist. And when I began my Lake District Mysteries, although I intended the male character, Daniel Kind, to take the lead, before long he was playing second fiddle to Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett.

The fact that I am now writing more often from a female viewpoint may be one of the reasons that most of the readers who visit my events, or talk to me about my work, or review my books, are women. Another explanation might simply be that there are more female readers of crime novels than male. Certainly, the publishing business seems predominantly female – my agent, and almost all the editors I’ve ever had, are women.

One other thought occurs to me. The central concept of the Lake District books is the slowly developing relationship between Hannah and Daniel. Maybe female readers, in general, are more intrigued by relationship issues than men. This might just help to explain why the Lake District books seem to appeal more to female readers than the early Liverpool books (although women readers often seem to like Harry Devlin as a character.)

Whatever the truth of it, I enjoy trying to get into the head of a woman like Hannah, someone whose life is nothing like mine, yet someone I find very appealing. I am definitely not foolish enough to claim that I really understand how women think (far from it!) but writing from a female perspective is quite a good way to try to reduce one’s bafflement….

Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to get into the head of a crime fiction writer, Martin – and remember, we are all waiting for the fourth Lake District novel!

11 kommentarer:

marco sagde ...

Nice giallo cover!

Dorte H sagde ...

Oh yes, you must enjoy this one :)
It is very different from the British and German covers. I showed them to a colleague who also loves crime fiction, and we agreed they reminded us of American covers from the 1930s or 50s.
Have you read any of them in Italian?

marco sagde ...

I've read Mi Ricordo di Te/I remember you and Il sorriso del Diavolo/The Devil in disguise (literally The Smile of the Devil).

Peter Rozovsky sagde ...

That'a quite a coup for your first guest blog post, an interesting essay on a pertinent subject. Til lykke!
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Bernadette in Australia sagde ...

Interesting topic. I went through a stage in my 20's of only wanting to read female authors but really that was a reaction to an education where 95% of what we read was written by men or about them. Now I really don't keep track and read a mixture. I generally dislike the books specifically aimed at my gender (chic lit etc) but am not particularly enamoured by overly 'boy books' either (thrillers where it's all car chases and having sex with unbelievably gorgeous women).

I am always impressed when someone creates a good, believable character that's the opposite gender to them as I imagine it's difficult and I've read some really awful attempts.

Dorte H sagde ...

Peter, tusind tak.
And thanks for posting about this :) I wonder whether Martin´s friends & family knew how fluent he was in Danish?

Bernadette, as I began reading crime fiction at an early age, I have not had this feeling that everything was written by men at all. I began with Enid Blyton as a child, continued with Christie and Sayers as a teenager, and moved on to P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. Most of their heroes were male, of course, and to me they seemed quite believable. I wonder whether male readers agree. Perhaps I should write about that one day?

Maxine sagde ...

Agreed, Dorte, I am impressed by Martin's Danish ;-) And that book jacket looks positively radioactive to me!

I didn't notice the gender of authors of the books I read until I was in approx early 20s. Before that I devoured all kinds of books except anything girly - I loved the classics, adventure, history, detection, everything really, so long as it was not wishy-washy. This did seem in retrospect like a rather male-dominated reading world, and certianly most protags were male. Rosemary Sutcliffe is one of the few female authors I remember being very keen on who wrote tough adventure stories.

Then I had the amazing experience of reading The Women's Room by Marilyn French, which I followed up with all kinds of similar works, I think my favourite by Marge Piercy, an author I still like. So having discovered feminist fiction I did become more aware of these issues, and went off into various long paths of reading, until in my later years I have zeroed in on crime fiction for various reasons, ability to absorb and concentrate being two of them.

Martin, your post brings up many issues and I have a tendency to ramble on so will not pick up on them all here. However, one of the points you make is interesting in terms of gender reading distributions. J K Rowling is a classic case of a publisher requested name change (from first name to initials) to encourage more male readers (well, boys, notorious for their lack of interest in the subject en masse). Plenty of other writers use initials eg S J Bolton, P D Martin, P D James, S E Hinton et al, I suspect that part of the reason in some cases is this desire not to be pigeonholed.

Apologies again for repeating, but you mention Tom Clancy as having a predominantly male readership. I think that is correct (based on my fellow-commuters!) but the interesting phenomenon is the "thriller" writer who is read by many women too - Lee Child is perhaps the most obvious. Peter Temple is my favourite - an author whose books are set in a macho, tough enviornment but which feature protagonists with feelings, with whom women can strongly identify.

Finally, I agree that Hannah Scarlett is a believable and intriguing character, and I like the way she has taken centre stage more as the books have progressed (Miranda is a much less sympathetic character, but I like the way you make the reader sympathise with her on occasion almost against one's will - because of course we are all hoping that Daniel will come to his senses and dump her for Hannah). I'm very much looking forward to reading more about her (hint!).

Dorte H sagde ...

Thank you for your interesting comments, Maxine.
Fine observation about writers ´hiding´ behind initials. Have we made progress, really, or is this just a new variation of female writers using male pseudonyms?
In my experience it should not be necessary for crime fiction writers. There are so many women among the best, that being female can hardly be regarded as a disadvantage.

Martin Edwards sagde ...

Needless to say, I'm fascinated by these comments, and it's a subject I'd like to explore further.
Maxine, you mention Lee Child. I've only read one of his books, but liked it a lot, and I plan to read a number of others as soon as I can.
As for Hannah Scarlett and co, the next book focuses on her relationship with Marc, and there are many scenes from his point of view, as well as from hers.

Dorte H sagde ...

Martin, thanks again for writing this post and I am glad you think the comments are inspiring. Have you seen Peter Rozovski has linked to the post and taken up the discussion as well?

Peter Rozovsky sagde ...

Velbekomme!

This time it's our base-ten number system that let me figure out your bit of Danish instruction. Marco will attest that just as you say tusind tak, Italians say mille grazie -- or at least effusive ones do.
==============
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/