"I don't get that much respect because I write popular fiction," Roseville mystery writer David Housewright said Sunday at Minnpost's annual Book Club Blast. "Though why anybody would want to write unpopular fiction, I don't know."
Ba DOOM boom!
And so he went, throughout his 40-minute keynote speech to about 100 people gathered at The Loft at Open Book in downtown Minneapolis. They were there to meet authors face to face, talk about writing, buy books, and, of course, listen to and laugh with Housewright.
He compared himself a couple of times to Mickey Spillane, who "got no respect at all because he was a pulp fiction writer." People bought his books in the milliions, but "he never got invited to anything."
Housewright's message was that good writing, and good storytelling, should transcend genre, and that writers of mysteries, sci fi, and romance should not be pigeonholed. "Genres only exist to tell bookstores where to find stuff."
Housewright's latest book, "The Taking of Libbie, S.D.," is a Minnesota Book Award finalist in the genre fiction category.
Authors of popular fiction, he says, deal in the real world. "The truth is, you're not going to find any subject in literary fiction that you won't find in mysteries, and probably sooner," he said. "We have been writing about the social issues--homelessness, racism, poverty, gay issues--before anybody else."
Think Tony Hillerman, Walter Mosley, R.D. Zimmerman, Ellen Hart, he said. "Pick a subject matter and a mystery writer has dealt with it, and we've dealt with it well, and we tell a good story along the way."
Housewright is the author of more than a dozen mysteries. A small publishing house published his first book, "Penance," after it had been rejected by "the finest publishing houses in the world."
"That year, I won the Edgar for best first novel. Does that mean that all those other publishing houses were idiots?"
Dramatic pause. "Why, yes, it does."
Ba DOOM boom!