Bouchercon panel, October 9, 2015
The “Masters” that influenced the “Masters” in Crime and Mystery
Mark Coggins (moderator), Bill Crider, Karin Slaughter, Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block
(I’ll have to plead “star-struck” on this one, please excuse any gibberish in the following paraphrased notes.)
What books or authors have influenced your work?
KS: For true crime: Ann Rule. In my writing I try to show crime for what it is and how it affects people.
MA: For true crime: Helter Skelter, Ann Rule. True crime reflects the underlying social conditions of the times.
BC: Harry Whittington is my favorite author.
LB: I was influenced by my role as editor at a lit agency early on in my career. Learned a lot about writing from reading inferior work—it teaches you what doesn’t work. (Block’s personal reminiscences of the crime fiction field and some of its leading practitioners: The Crime of Our Lives.)
MA: Movies influenced me, helped me form ideas about how stories work, dialogue, romance, film noir, the sets and the costumes. Twin Peaks was the perfect mix of melodrama and crime (a noir tribute).
KS: I read a lot of non-fiction. Stephen King is amazing at characterization.
BC: My favorite heroes are Phillip Marlow, Sam Spade and Lew Archer.
MA: Antiheroes appeal to me, like the protagonist in Double Indemnity.
BC: What do I choose to reread? I think the author’s voice has a lot to do with it.
MA: Who would I invite to dinner (if it could be anyone)? Raymond Chandler, Shirley Jackson, Poe, Lovecraft.
KS: Lee Child’s latest is the best of the year.
BC: Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes, The Big Sleep
MA: Chris Holms’ newest. In a Lonely Place—both book and movie are great
Guilty (reading) pleasures:
BC: Paperback originals and digests
LB: Digests like Sure Fire, Off Beat
[I was thrilled that both Bill and Larry mentioned digests—yes!]
MA: Currently reading Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter—recommended.
KS: A good series hero has to be interesting, have a moral compass. People change incrementally not transformational.
After the panel I caught a few moments with Bill Crider, who signed a copy of his latest book: Between the Living and the Dead—thrilling!