November 19th, 2009

“Dead, brutalized women sell books”

One British author who is also a reviewer is speaking out about what she sees as the increasing violence against women in mysteries and thrillers. She says that an increasing number of books feature male villains hurting women. “"Each psychopath is more sadistic than the last and his victims' sufferings are described in detail that becomes ever more explicit, as young women are imprisoned, bound, gagged, strung up or tied down, raped, sliced, burned, blinded, beaten, eaten, starved, suffocated, stabbed, boiled or buried alive,” she said.

“Natasha Cooper, former chair of the Crime Writers' Association, agreed with Mann. "There is a general feeling that women writers are less important than male writers and what can save and propel them on to the bestseller list is if they produce at least one novel with very graphic violence in it to establish their credibility and prove they are not girly," she said.”

Full disclosure: I know a female writer who has enjoyed incredible success due in no small part to graphic, over-the-top violence. I'm thankful that the adult mysteries I'm writing with Lis Wiehl are pubbed by Thomas Nelson, where graphic depictions of violence are not part of the publisher's DNA.

You can read the article about the reviewer by clicking here.

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Do it yourself publicity

Rebecca Skloot wrote an article for Publishers Weekly that begins:
“A month ago, I’d have thought the idea of organizing my own book tour with the help of my brain-damaged father was nuts. My father, Floyd Skloot, has written several books about the neurologic damage he suffered from a virus in the ’80s—it affected his memory, his abstract reasoning, and his ability to think about multiple things at once. Exactly the abilities a person needs to envision and organize a book tour. And I’m no better. Somewhere between writing a book, taking a teaching job, freelancing, and becoming my own publicist, things got a bit out of control. My office floor is piled with papers, my inbox has thousands of unanswered e-mails, and I scramble to keep up.

“My publisher has been hugely supportive of my book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, so I figured my tour was a given. I fantasized about driving cross country with the boyfriend, our dogs, and a herd of our closest friends in a big tour bus with bright colored cells painted all over it (yes, cells, the things in your body).”
And then she writes about how she set up her own tour with the help of Facebook and Twitter. She probably got more book folks to think about her book than if her publisher had put her on tour. And her fantasies were really more the stuff of fantasy. I mean, when was the last time you heard of anyone sending someone on tour on a specially painted bus? [Full disclosure: Well, I can think of one Sarah Palin. Her tour features a bus adorned with large images of her face. It’s going to 'real America,’ ie, Noblesville, Ind., Roanoke, Va., Washington, Pa., military bases at Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, and the Villages, a GOP-friendly retirement community outside Orlando. ]

So next time someone tells you “no” think of how you can turn it inside out and make it better than a yes would have ever been.

Full disclosure: I used to work with Rebecca’s mother a long time ago, and know Floyd a little bit. I connected with Rebecca [just once] when I saw her byline in the New York Times Magazine (how many Skloots can there be?).

You can read her whole article here.

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