Do thriller writers read and write in other genres?

February 15, 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The common rubric for novels and stories I read and write is ‘psychological fiction.’ I like to get inside the heads of the main characters—as deep inside as possible. In my late teens, I gravitated to writers like Dostoevsky, Kafka, Henry James, and William Faulkner. During a long business career, I fancied myself a frustrated writer of literary fiction. Whenever I attempted a novel or short story, however, I failed. Couldn’t find the time to do it justice, or so I thought.

The reality was that I had no talent for the kind of amorphous New Yorker story I felt compelled to write. I was frustrated because my stuff was boring. This isn’t a knock on literary fiction (well, maybe a little), just a realization that I can’t abide a story that meanders without a point or creates a conflict with no conclusion. I can neither write a story like that, nor can I read one with any degree of satisfaction.

In the 1990s, I began to read crime fiction, thinking of it as an extension of my long time affection for film noir. Before long, I felt at home. This wasn’t just light entertainment, it was a whole province of literature with just as much potential to illuminate the human condition as mainstream fiction. Thinking back to the classics I admired, I concluded that a crime of some sort, whether a moral failure or an overtly antisocial act, was at the heart of each story—and the cause of the conflict that animated the characters.

MADE FOR MURDER, my first novel, fits into the suspense thriller category. PAYING FOR PAIN is a collection of short noir fiction. And THE BREASTPLATE OF FAITH AND LOVE, a novel now under contract to New Pulp Press, is part mystery and part psychological thriller.

As a writer, I’m solidly in the crime fiction camp for the foreseeable future. As a reader, though, I’m all over the place—history, biography, mainstream fiction, mystery/suspense—with a strong compulsion for delving deep inside the human mind.

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