I always find it slightly unnerving to see what academics make of my work, rarely do they make of it what I do (!), but it can be an interesting thing to get someone else’s take on what you do.
So I was intrigued to be forwarded this link to this contents page. (Hell, I might even buy a copy of Clues if I can work my way round McFarland’s complex purchasing system – anyone who understands & can help or wants to lend me a copy, feel free to let me know!)
Hmm … “More contemporary works foreground lesbian sex, romance, and identity.” … as if that’s a problem!! (yes, I know I haven’t read the piece yet, but given the author Inga Simpson’s title goes on to say “lesbian detective fiction has not continued to develop and failed to engage a wider audience” I’m guessing it is a criticism of sorts!)
And the ‘but’ is – when I was writing it, way back in ’91/’92, I NEVER saw Calendar Girl as a novel of ‘lesbian detective fiction’, I saw it as a contemporary relationship novel that had some lesbians in it. I still do. (And of course at that time, a novel with ordinary, young, gorgeous, sex-having, non-suicidal, non-separatist lesbians in it was pretty damn rare!)
Of course, it became a series, and Saz stayed a detective etc etc, but my main interest has ALWAYS been in Saz and the world, the character and the world; her place in it, as a partner, as a woman, a sister, a daughter, a mother – and as a lesbian.
The crime stuff has been part of it but for me, not really the main part. (I think that’s obvious in the books!) Which is why I believe those books have transcended the boundaries, they’ve always been read by men and straight women and not just the lesbian ‘community’ and/or ghetto … (they were also, all, favourably reviewed in mainstream UK press, almost always by older men!!)
Anyway, what really interests me, is to find (as I have done often with the Saz books) that they form part of other people’s academic thinking about women crime writers, or lesbian crime writers, or crime writers/writing in general or whatever … but that my own intention as the novelist is secondary to the academics’ interpretation of what I’ve done.
And yes, I know this is what academia does. Takes a thing and extrapolates from it. Takes a thing and removes it from its origins to find out where else it goes. But as the maker of that thing, I find it odd.
After all, surely the death of the author really means the death of the writing? Dead author = no more books. (But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?!)