Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Responsibility of Writers

Last weekend I participated in a cozy mystery panel with Sue Ann Jaffarian, Jane DiLucchio and Diane Vallere at the La Mirada Library in La Mirada, CA. We’re all members of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime and have all known each other for quite a while. It was quite a fun panel to be on.

Several of the attendees didn’t know what cozy mysteries were so we talked about some elements they usually include. When asked why they read cozies, one audience member said it was for the escapism, another because justice always prevails in the end, something that doesn’t always happen in the real world.

The phrase “the lighter side of mystery” was bandied about. People who read extensively in the mystery genre know what this means, but I admit that it is kind of an odd phrase to use. After all, someone was murdered or some other crime occurred that affected characters lives permanently.

As writers, we have to remember there are people in the real world who are murdered. This was driven home to me recently when someone in a cozy group I’m a member of told us a friend had been murdered and they couldn’t face reading mysteries, even cozy ones right now. I suspect I’d have the same reaction if someone close to me was murdered. I hope they’ll eventually be able to enjoy reading cozies again, but I’d understand if they couldn’t.

While we, as writers, have fun devising plot points and ways to “creatively” murder someone on the page, we have to remember in our creative zeal that people actually are murdered in the real world. We need to treat the crime respectfully. I can’t really think of a book I’ve read that doesn’t, but I still think it’s important to remind ourselves of this every time we sit down to write.

1 comment:

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Well said and I couldn't agree more, Sybil. I think we writers have a moral responsibility to treat our (fictional)crime and our readers with respect and try at all times to write with integrity.