Tag: feminism


Mystery writers talk feminism

Last night I was privileged to join four other female writers on a panel at Book Culture in Manhattan. We all write in the mystery / thriller genre, but that wasn’t why we gathered. March 1st was the first day of Women’s History Month and our theme was feminism. In our conversation we didn’t attempt to define feminism for all women or even for ourselves; instead, we examined our books through the lens of our female protagonists – who they are and why we created them. I think that everyone in attendance would agree that it was a good conversation – and one that opened more avenues of discussion. As a writer and reader, I hope that Women’s History Month will remind us to think about the women who have influenced our lives, and the kind of influence we would like to have on the lives of others. At the same time, it is a chance to reflect on powerful women in fiction. How do these characters take the reader outside everyday life? How do they help shape our world, or create a better understanding of our place in it? There are many powerful women in literature – who are the most influential in your life? (Many thanks to my fellow panelists: Susan Breen, Cate Holahan, Kelly Oliver and Carrie Smith. Check out their books in stores and online. Great reads all.) 

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Mystery women

On March 1, I’ll be speaking at  a feminist mystery writing panel at the Book Culture bookstore in NYC, with several of my fellow Miss Demeanors. Whenever I think about feminism, I think about my mother, who was a very reluctant feminist. My mother got married in 1955 and she embraced the whole suburban dream. She used to joke that she was one of the few people in the world who actually wanted to be a housewife. We lived near Levittown, Long Island, which was the epicenter of suburbia at that time.  My father worked as a display animator, which meant that he made mannequins move. You might have seen his work at the It’s a Small World ride at Disney World. Everything was going to plan, except that, when he turned 30, my father came down with a form of Multiple Sclerosis so virulent that within a few years he couldn’t move.  My mother found herself in desperate need of a job. We were blessed to have a business in the family and she got work there, but the experience taught her, and me, that no matter what your plans, a woman has got to be able to rely on herself. When writing my Maggie Dove mysteries, I was drawn to yet another woman whose life did not go to plan. Maggie Dove was a woman content with her life as a mother and wife. She thought she had everything all figured out, but then her life was jolted by tragedy and she had to build everything up all over again. She solved a mystery, started up a detective agency, made new friends. Took risks. If I had my life to do over, I would take many more risks than I have done, and yet I’m glad that now, as I hit my sixth decade, I’m not yet too old to take challenges. This January I went on the Women’s March, which was not at all the sort of thing I would have done in years past, but as I looked around at all the strong women around me, I thought how proud I was of all of us for speaking up, for taking a stand. My mother would have been right at the front of the line. Info about the panel:http://www.bookculture.com/event/112th-kelly-oliver-susan-breen-tracee-de-hahn-carrie-smith-cate-holahan

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