AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

November 23, 2009

A comment worthy of discussion

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 5:27 am

This comment from Larry S-
I bought a bunch of copies of the Deadly Ink Anthology to give to relatives and then got nervous because my language in my stories is so bad. Then I saw a bio of Stephen King and found out he was ashamed to show his mother he was successfully publishing work because all of his stories were being purchased by raunchy skin magazines. It made me feel better. Better enough to even send a copy to my spinster aunt. I guess one cannot spend one’s formative years in Hackensack and expect to emerge untarnished. I sure have enjoyed the Deadly Ink experience.

Larry, you bring up an important and seldom-mentioned point. Some crime writers have warm supportive friends, family and social groups that understand most writers’ interest in crime exists solely in the mind. They are not rendered suspicious of writers by reading a crime story, and they aren’t about to question their morals or motives.

Then we have the rest of us.

As an editor, I’ve heard some real doozy stories of paranoid friends, family and other readers giving major blowback to crime writers. So if you have slightly skittish relations, or friends who never read the genre, it can be a good idea to “spare them” the gory reading and limit discussion of your crime writing to those you absolutely know are going to be cool about it.

The way I look at it is, do you take friends and family with you to work? Do they get a chance to look over your shoulder and comment on how you’re balancing a column of numbers or soldering a piece of metal? No? Then why should they automatically have the right to judge or criticize you as a writer? Friends are friends, family is family, and what you write is your business.


  1. I’ve told my family about my SF/Fantasy stuff but some of them don’t know about my horror stories. And the reason is the content. Even with what I’ve shown them I’ve gotten plenty of snide comments. I usually just say, well, I was raised with you, what do you expect?

    Comment by Charles Gramlich — November 23, 2009 @ 6:07 am

  2. Ha ha! I love it! Good answer Charles.

    Comment by Elaine Ash — November 23, 2009 @ 7:18 am

  3. Charles has the answer! I will use it. My sisters read my fiction and now get it but in the beginning there was “how did you come up with that.” Which I interpreted as “what kind of filth is running through your head.” But to this day, my mom hasn’t read any of the crime fiction I have written. And probably won’t.

    Comment by David Cranmer — November 23, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  4. I think to a certain degree, this post and answer can apply to any genre, not just crime.

    I’ve found that while I have no problem in sharing my stuff with the general public online and with certain co-workers, its a different issue with family and close friends.

    Two of the commenters here know exactly what I write, so a few of my friends still have problems reconciling me the person with me the writer/blogger.

    As far as I know, none of my immediate family has read any of my stuff. Except for my 17 year old who read a brief two page prologue from a story I was bringing with me to work and thought it was pretty good.

    Which frightens the crap out of me.

    Comment by G — November 23, 2009 @ 10:08 am

  5. Ah, the memories this discussion brings back. I published my very first short story, under my real name, in an anthology called Fedora II: More Private Eyes and Tough Guys, from Wildside Press, back in 2003. After getting my contributor copy, I showed it to to many friends and family. I shouldn’t have bothered. All but one of them read the FIRST LINE and said, “How could you write that?” I was stunned. I had expected, “Nice job, congratulations, good work, etc.”; I wasn’t insisting anybody READ the story, I was just saying, “Look, I did it!” Instead, I had one friend call me the anti-Christ. Another was similarly offended, upsetting ME to the point where I didn’t speak to her for a time. Another asked why I didn’t change the line before printing. How come the editor let that go? ONE LINE! It has reached the point where I refuse to show anybody that story anymore.

    What caused the controversy, you ask? (Be careful…. If you’re sensitive, stop reading now.)

    The story starts off in a morgue with the private eye hero looking for at the dead body of an old girlfriend, and I’ve included the whole first paragraph for context:

    “She had a spider tattoo on her inner left thigh about an inch from her vagina and I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want somebody else poking around down there with a hot needle. I’d said as much when she showed me ‘her little critter’ fifteen years ago. But it didn’t matter anymore. She was dead.”

    Comment by Brian Drake — November 23, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  6. Brian, for what’s it worth, I found nothing wrong with that first sentence or the paragraph. I think it’s a great opening, starting with something incredibly personal.

    Comment by G — November 23, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

  7. Brian, thanks so much for telling that story. When you write something and show it to people who reject it, there’s such a disappointment that comes with it. I see nothing outrageous in that line, it’s a great start to a crime story, and I guess it’s hard to believe that some people are so sheltered and underexposed to a great genre of American writing, that they could be unsettled by it.

    Comment by Elaine Ash — November 23, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  8. Thanks for the warm replies. I didn’t understand the outrage, either, unless it was jealousy that I had reached part of my goal while others had not–and they weren’t even writers, just folks who’ve atrophied at whatever stage of life they’ve reached. Anyway the story to which I refer actually made me a bit of money in the anthology it was printed in, the first check being $15 and the last a whopping twenty-five cents. When I took the last one to the bank, the teller said, “Are you kidding?” I said, “I earned that quarter.”

    Comment by Brian Drake — November 24, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

  9. That first paragraph is outstanding. Made me want to read the rest of the story. Also, I found it very funny, dark humored. Anyone ever questions my work all I can say is ‘How the hell do you read the paper or watch the news?’ As a crime writer you take certain liberties, getting into the head of your characters. Law enforcement are among the darkest humored individuals I’ve ever met. You hit the nail on the head Brian. Take care. Keep writing.

    Comment by Frank Bill — November 28, 2009 @ 5:26 am

  10. If any of you would like to actually see more of my story, the anthology it appeared in is now on Google Books.

    The story is “Web of Vengeance” written under my real name.

    Comment by Brian Drake — December 6, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  11. I see you have some very good company in that book, such as Anthony Neil Smith and others. What an honor!

    Comment by ashedit — December 6, 2009 @ 10:49 am

  12. amazing stuff thanx 🙂


    Comment by Viagra — January 24, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  13. For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.


    Comment by bebenajib — June 10, 2010 @ 10:27 am

  14. Maybe you could change the webpage title A comment worthy of discussion Ashedit’s Blog to more generic for your blog post you write. I enjoyed the post withal.

    Comment by Schedule — October 30, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

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