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The Crime of It All Interview

[How about a little shameless self-promotion for today, featuring author interview with Les Wanner of TheCrimeofitAll.com.]

Len Wanner: Should crime fiction get more critical attention?

Dana Stabenow: No, I think it gets plenty nowadays, both online and off.

LW: Have you read any Scottish crime fiction?

DS: Scottish crime fiction isn’t separated out as a separate subgenre on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble, so I don’t know.

LW: What are the merits of crime fiction for you?

DS: The merits of good crime writing are the same merits of any good writing: The better I tell a story, the more engaged the reader will be.

LW: Did you choose this genre because it gives a voice to those we rarely listen to?

DS: If I wanted to bang the drum for a cause I’d write non-fiction. I do believe evil exists in human form, however, and the snake always has the best lines.

LW: How do you see yourself as a writer?

DS: I’m an entertainer. I’m the one sitting around the fire, spinning tales, hoping to get a few coins in my bowl before turning in for the night. If I don’t deliver, no coins, and no supper.

LW: Would you say that crime fiction is becoming ever more popular because it offers ersatz justice?

DS: Yes. Most of the time in crime fiction justice prevails. If we can’t have the reality of social justice, at least we can escape to it in fiction.

LW: Can the genre be too heavy-handed on questions of corrective measures?

DS: Only by accident, if the writer is doing their job properly.

LW: Does the genre afford us an opportunity to identify with a person driven to crime?

DS: Some people are just plain mad, bad and dangerous to know. No crime fiction writer can afford to underestimate the human propensity for evil. But no crime fiction reader should forget they are reading fiction.

LW: What makes a hero?

DS: All the best crime fiction heroes share at bottom the core characteristic of decency and many of them a willingness to sacrifice for their code or an individual or the common good. That’s what makes them heroes, they are better than you and me.

LW: Is the crime novel read as the new social novel – to identify with people in distress, to feel that we are not alone in our fears and uncertainties?

DS: The social novel has disappeared? Wait, I don’t even know what a “social” novel is. This could apply to any novel in any genre.

LW: Would you agree that crime fiction is read with a view to sounding out one’s own lived experience through the contrast between idealized patriarchy and how things actually work?

DS: Judging by my fan mail, some do. Some just read for the thrill.

LW: Do you write crime fiction because this genre doesn’t hesitate when it comes to the extremes that human beings are capable of?

DS: Crime fiction is a very versatile genre. There is nothing you can’t do in crime fiction and make it work. So yes.

LW: Who does it best?

DS: Reading is a wholly subjective exercise, and every book has a different effect on each individual reader. You’re casting a pretty wide net here. I will simply say that lately I’ve been enjoying Ariana Franklin, Craig Johnson, Barbara Cleverly, PD James and Reginald Hill.

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