Friday, April 13, 2007

The Nicest Bunch Of Killers I Know

One of the most remarkable things about the crime fiction community is how generous writers are to one another, with very few exceptions. This might seem counter-intuitive, since we spend most of our time making bad things happen to good people in the pages of our books, but I’m continually struck by how mystery writers go out of their way to support each other.

I just got back from a book signing, a joint appearance with Steve Hockensmith, whose novel Holmes On The Range is up for an Edgar this year. Steve invited me to join him on part of his tour, and in the parlance of his character Big Red, it was a hoot. Readers of his books discovered mine, and vice versa, and at every appearance one or two people in the audience were fellow mystery authors who came out to cheer us on.

In Portland there was Bill Cameron, fellow MI author and blogger whose must-read debut Lost Dog is finally on bookstore shelves. Like the rest of us, Bill is now on the deadline treadmill, and he probably had a lot more important things to do than listen to me and Steve read, but he turned out anyway. He could have thrown tomatoes or heckled us from the back row, but instead he was a friendly face in the crowd, and I can’t thank him enough.

Mystery writers seem to have figured out this isn’t a competition. The only real threat to you selling more books is Nintendo, reality TV, or the millions of other forms of instant gratification that define popular culture. If one of us sells a book, that means someone must be reading crime fiction, and that’s good for all of us.

I’m told that writers in other genres or the literary crowd may not be so kind. I wouldn’t know, since I spend most of my time hanging out with people who dream of murder and mayhem. When I first met Julia Buckley, I told her a story about my first writing conference. I sat across a table from a woman who had attended more than a few over the years, and she told me the mystery writers were the nicest people because they got all their aggressions out on the page. Her closing comment to me was, “Almost everyone is really great. There are only one or two assholes, and we all know who they are.”

Based on my experience so far, I’d say she was right.


Anonymous said...

Agree completely. The generosity of mystery writers is, I think, unique.

Julia Buckley said...

Hey, Tim! Great post. I feel like I have lots of new friends in the mystery community ever since my book came out and I've started attending conferences.

I look forward to coming to your signing when you come to Chicago. I might throw tomatoes, but it will be in a friendly way. :)