In Search of a Good Death
I love a good death.
I always have. Not of anyone I like, you understand, so don’t start getting worried. I just love dark stories that feature murder and mayhem and crime and all things nasty, including clowns that eat children. And the truth is, in all my short stories and novels somebody dies in some absurd and sinister way. Let’s say via the sharp pointed heel of a Jimmy Choo stiletto (Cost of Living) or by an explosion caused by lighting the stiff hair of an old barbie doll on fire and throwing her in the heat exchanger (Picture This – Untethered anthology). I love writing noir.
The thing is, I haven’t always liked reading it.
You see, the hard-boiled crime novels that I was pointed towards didn’t have a lot for me to identify with beyond the vicarious enjoyment of a corpse drawn in chalk on the floor The women in those novels were either shallow femme fatales that seemed to have forgotten how to smile or doe eyed ingenues that made me want to punch them in the nose for being so damn vacuous. They were poster board cut-outs of real women, who have full blown personalities, and relationships, and laundry, and quite frankly the occasional thought deeper than a Facebook meme. Of course, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was at least complex, but after awhile unstable dark moods and a bleak moral landscape can get old for me. That’s why I don’t read the American news anymore.
And yes, I know there was a whole whack of crime novel mysteries out there that were supposed to be geared more to female audiences, but most of them felt like they had been written by my nana or that friend who is perpetually chirpy and you suspect of being on Xanax. They lacked the kind of grittiness that I could sink my teeth into.
So, I returned to my writing, where someone always had to die, but after they did, your mother might come over to help move the body while making derogatory remarks about your housecleaning. Maybe you, dear female reader can identify with that? Or if you are a man, maybe you can see in such a story shades of the real women in your own life (who hopefully aren’t getting rid of your body, but forewarned is forearmed, so maybe good to read up and look for the signs). However, when it came to the books I was reading myself, the plots might have been steamy, but the female characters were still half-baked.
Then something came along that changed all that. Gone Girl. If you haven’t heard of this blockbuster hit of a novel and subsequent movie, you must be a corpse yourself or a Nordic psychopath too busy exacting revenge to have time for pop culture. I’m not saying that there wasn’t any good noir out there with great female characters before Gillian Flynn, but she definitely brought it into the mainstream for me and a lot of other people. After that, came novels like Girl on the Train, and The Couple Next Door, all with three dimensional women with complex personalities and motivations. Women in relationships, who lose their husbands, their moral compass and even their infants lying in a crib while they go next door for a couple of drinks. The slightly derogatory term Chick Noir was coined (as opposed to Dick Noir, I suppose). And while these novels may or may not have been written specifically for women, they were all written by women, and that is wonderful and fabulous and something to celebrate. But what I am embarrassed to say, is that there were women killing it in this genre well before Gone Girl. I just didn’t know where to find them.
So that’s what this blog is going to be dedicated to, highlighting women writers of thriller and noir, with interviews, reviews of their work, and recognition of their successes. Don’t get me wrong. I love male writers, and some are so good at portraying women in their books, I need to double check the back cover for a double X chromosome. But I think that women writers are bringing something fresh and unique to the genre these days, and we owe it to ourselves to get to know who they are and how they are doing it. I hope you will enjoy getting to know them as much I will. Next week I’ll be bringing an interview to you with Melissa Yi, author of the Dr. Hope Sze medical thriller series. She’s an emergency room doctor, a mother of two, and an author of multiple genres. I will ask her when she sleeps.
Maybe I’ll throw in a female perpetrated true crime story from time to time as well on this blog, just to get you in the mood. Although I won’t give you any tips on how to hide a body.
You’ll need to call your mother for that.
Header Photo cred to https://www.wikihow.com/Choose-High-Heels#/Image:Choose-High-Heels-Step-15.jpg
About The Author
Carole Kennedy publishes under her Irish name, C.S. O'Cinneide (oh-kin-ay-da). Her debut novel, Petra's Ghost, was a semi-finalist in the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards. The Starr Sting Scale, first in her Candace Starr crime fiction series, was published by Dundurn Press in February 2020.