I wrote this how-to book of crime writing with Michelle Spring, but it’s not just us: we asked twenty-six other bestselling crime writers to write an essay on…anything. That’s right, we just asked them to write us a few pages on whatever was on their mind, or they wished someone had told them when they were getting started: some element of their work distilled into a few pages. Last week I posted a snippet of Lee Child’s blast of the trumpet. But I’d also like you to see what my friend Meg Gardiner has to say:
People ask me why I write thrillers. What, they wonder, provokes me to tell stories of crime and suspense and deadly adventure?
Sometimes, the question they really want to ask is left unsaid: ‘How can you write that stuff? You don’t seem overtly bloodthirsty,’ or ‘You were such an innocuous child – what happened to you?’
The implication is that I must love violence, or want to see people suffer. Hardly.
I write thrillers because they get to the heart of the human condition. Thrillers, like all crime fiction, are about people facing severe danger, or confronting an evil that has invaded their world. A thriller tells the story of characters who must tackle the most critical problem of their lives. They must do it under huge pressure, often with their survival and the survival of their families, friends or community at stake. The heroes must find the resources to fight back – now. They must muster the courage to act against seemingly overwhelming opposition – now. They must rise to the challenge. Or not. Or die trying.
Crime and Thriller Writing, by Michelle Spring, Laurie R. King,and 26 others. Available in paperback (which I’ll sign, if you like, at Bookshop Santa Cruz) or from Barnes & Noble/Nook, or from Amazon/Kindle.