I've been thinking a lot about sex and violence lately.
Oh, please. Get your mind out of the gutter.
I've been thinking about this topic because I am part of a panel this weekend for the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. The exact title of the panel is "Love & Murder;" but we all know what that means.
Florida author Deborah Sharp, right, who is putting together the panel, has come up with some good questions for the speakers, who include P.J. Parrish (Kristy Montee) and Linda Conrad.
Do authors use too much sex and violence?
I read a crazy amount of mysteries every year. You don't even want to know how many as it would seem, well, crazy.
The good news is I believe that most authors use violence only when needed to get a point across or to add to the heart-stopping action. Some authors such as Jacqueline Winspear, Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben use violence very sparingly, making it organic to the story.
The bad news is that some authors seem to feel that if the body count isn't high, the readership won't be either. These are the mysteries that set my teeth on edge, that succumb to the cliches of the genre and follow what I call the Fair Game syndrome. And I am talking about the 1995 movie with Cindy Crawford, which seemed to have a death in every scene.
When an author believes that he or she has to have more, more, more, then chances are the story is just not there and the author needs to sit back and think long and hard about the type of story he or she wants to write.
The use of violence also parallels the use of sex in mysteries. Too much just doesn't work.
I'd like to know readers' views on the issue of sex and violence. What do you think?