Thursday, August 17, 2006

News: Murder She Writes

Marilyn Gardner of The Christian Science Monitor writes that almost half of the mysteries published in the US are written by women. In addition to creating intriguing new fictional roles for female crime-solvers, these whodunits are drawing more women to read mysteries of all kinds.

"We've helped grow the market for crime fiction. While fiction is stagnant or falling, crime fiction remains a very buoyant sub-genre," says Sara Paretsky, bestselling author of the Kinsey Millhone mystery series.

Women writers often offer unusual perspectives. Rochelle Krich, president-elect of Sisters in Crime, writes two series with Orthodox Jewish settings.

Libby Fischer Hellmann describes another sub-genre, the chick-lit mystery, as "Prada-type girls who happen to solve mysteries when they're not working in their wonderful Manhattan jobs."

Despite progress, women who write whodunits still have a few real-life mysteries to solve. One could be called The Case of the Changing Publishing Industry. Now that American publishers have consolidated into six conglomerates, their emphasis is on blockbusters.

For all authors, perhaps the biggest challenge involves The Case of the Diminishing Readership. "There's one underlying need we have to address," Hellmann says. "That is nurturing the next generation of mystery readers. We used to say, 'All these kids are reading Harry Potter. They'll be the next generation of mystery readers.' But they're not. They stop reading as teenagers. They're lured by iPods, the Internet, MySpace, and games."

Read the entire article on CSMonitor.com here.

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