Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Mark Rubinstein- Why Crime Fiction?
I’m often asked why I write crime-thriller novels. Sometimes, I think the answer is easy: I love to read them, so I write them, too.
But why crime? You can tap the range of human emotions and experiences in virtually any genre, so what about crime novels is so attractive?
I suppose partly it’s because these things could actually occur—they could really happen to people like you and me. I mean, the chance you’ll encounter a ghost, be transported to another planet, or have some paranormal or sci-fi experience is pretty remote. Often, it’s pure fantasy. Basically, these aren’t possible. But you could very well be the victim of some thug’s violent intentions, or end up being the target of extortion, or threats, or you could unwittingly run afoul of some criminal enterprise.
In other words, crime novels tap into the prospect of possibility which makes them ever more frightening. These things could actually occur.
But more than fear drives these novels. Greed, lust, avarice, revenge, cowardice, nobility—all run rampant in crime novels. And it’s vicarious, so the tension, anxiety, and outright fear occur to someone else—not you. You can live it through a character’s experiences, not your own. That makes it tolerable—even enjoyable. You can pull back anytime you want.
Think of Vito Corleone in The Godfather, of Harry Bosch in Michael Connelly’s novels, or imagine Ben and Chon in Don Winslow’s novel Savages, or Eddie Coyle in George V. Higgins’ classic crime novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle (made into a movie starring Robert Mitchum). Or think about characters in novels like Get Shorty, by Elmore Leonard, or those in Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane. (Also a great movie by Clint Eastwood, starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and other fabulous actors). They live and breathe on the page. You can’t help but love some, and hate others. You end up worrying about and rooting for some, while you loathe and want to see the demise of others.
Maybe it all boils down to basics—the Good versus Evil dichotomy of human existence. Maybe it’s more complicated than that. I’m not really sure.
I just love a good crime thriller.
Author, Mad Dog House and Love Gone Mad (due Sept.1st, 2013)
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