Focus: Reflections

What to Say When Readers’ To-Read Lists Need Some Help

If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

My first response would be to deck the sexist annoyance! However, if I’m able to restrain myself, I might try a gentler approach.

My bookshelf smallerEven before responding, however, I’d consider whether or not it is worth the effort to convince someone to try something new. I have a friend who always orders turkey sandwiches when we go out for lunch. She does not welcome my suggestion that she try sushi, say.  Or my brother-in-law, who prefers his steak cooked beyond chewy.

Some people are not open to change.

However, a person who brings up that question either wants to provoke me or is actually open to suggestion. With the sincere person, I’d ask who those favorite authors are and what they like about the authors’ books.

Then I’d silently curse my memory for not coming up with a great list on the spot and offer to email some suggestions. I’d race home, look at my bookshelf (and my Kindle) and come up with a list. I’d send it with the reminder that these are only my impressions of the moment and that a great place to find new authors is the local public library.  I remind readers of this post that my list is way too short and includes only a few of my current reads.

I would also send them to the Sisters in Crime website’s Author Search. When I moved to the Bay Area, I sought out local authors with books set in my new community. That’s how I found Marcia Muller, whose first novel, Edwin of the Iron Shoes, became a favorite. Now that I’ve moved to Tucson, via a long and wonderful time in Boise, Idaho, I’ll be searching for local authors.

Action:  Peg Brantley, Gayle Lynds, Marcia Muller, Sara Paretsky

Police procedurals: Frankie Bailey, Deborah Crombie, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, Elizabeth Gunn, L.J. Sellers

Private investigators: Linda Barnes, Sue Grafton, Laura Lippman, Val McDermid

Humor: Conda Douglas, Kathy McIntosh, Kris Neri

Great characters: My list would become overwhelming!

I probably wouldn’t add the names of the many cozy writers I read and love. When someone thinks only men write the best crime novels, ya gotta bring ’em around slowly.

Yes, I would add my name to the list of recommended reading, unless I knew it simply would not be to this person’s taste. Because we as authors need to be proud of what we write and able to actually suggest that a reader buy our books.

You probably have oodles of authors to suggest and I so welcome your thoughts.

This blog post was inspired and created for the Sisters In Crime bloghop. You can find out more here,

You may have hopped here on the advice of my dear friend and fellow writer Conda Douglas, whose name is on my list of humorous authors. Her Starke series is a hoot. If you haven’t yet read it, her post contains great advice for new authors. Make that for all authors.