Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Joan Brady's eight year struggle

Award-winning novelist Joan Brady was working on her new book in a sleepy Devon town when she began suffering from the fumes produced by the shoe factory next door. Her response? To abandon literary fiction and write crime instead. And to start a lawsuit. She tells Stuart Jeffries in The Guardian how it took her eight years to win the case.
The legal wrangling may be over, but Brady is left with dead nerves, heightened allergies and a rage against the legal system and local democracy. On the plus side, she also has a lucrative new career: a few years after abandoning Cool Wind From the Future, she channelled her rage over the dispute into writing a new book, a thriller called Bleedout, which has become an international bestseller.
Meanwhile, Mark Lawson ponders what coverage of the case tells us about attitudes to crime fiction.
One example given of her problems - and here we come to the reason that Brady should probably not walk down any dark alleys filled with crime writers - was that she had become so confused by the fumes that she was forced to abandon a serious novel, Cool Wind from the Future, and turn instead to mystery fiction, with Bleedout.

So, in the course of a compensation dispute, we have medical and legal support for the traditional libel against crime writing: that it is done by authors whose brains aren't fully working. Perhaps, in the way that the dim in showbusiness became known as airheads, leading crime and thriller writers should in future be designated fumeheads.

1 comment:

  1. Another self-important writer condescending to genre, then. Usually it's some lit-pages name publishing sub-par science fiction while making special claims for it.

    Lawson said what many of us will be thinking, but hesitate to come out with in case it might be read as professional peevishness.


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