I’m not talking about the long hiatus in blogging (been writing) but a fantastic and well-overdue prize for thrillers.
This initiative by Bridget Lawless is something I’ve been championing for over ten years. Crime fiction in which the usual clichés of violence against women are absent. Hallelujah!
The debate around this prize is interesting and reflective of our times:
But where’s the tension?
Sadly, violence against women is the real world and writers should reflect it.
Crime shouldn’t be about issues but events.
There’s a shift in our thinking, after the backlash against sexual harassers, abusers of power and an embedded acceptance of the structures that enable such behaviour.
Crime authors who use their creativity solely in inventing new ways to assault women are as boring as those who always attribute the antagonist’s psychosis to being ‘abused as a child’.
What I want to read – and write – are crime novels addressing both symptom and cause.
Today’s crimes against the vulnerable are borne of a society which encourages and enables precisely those shocking headlines: powerless people seeking someone weaker to bully, individuals such as President ‘Grab ‘em by the pussy’, mega corporations evading tax and eroding workers’ rights, disenfranchised trigger-happy teens with access to warfare weaponry, organisations such as The Presidents’ Club, and a media which stokes a divisive fire and shrieks when it explodes.
Women are far from the only victims but I applaud the Staunch Prize for introducing an initiative long overdue.
I’m not entering, as my ideal candidate book is already ten years old. But I wish this prize every success and await the winners with more enthusiasm than next year’s Booker/Costa/Baileys.
Debate with Frances di Plino on this exact same subject, in case you missed it.