Tue 13 Dec 2011
ROBIN W. WINKS, Editor – Colloquium on Crime: Eleven Renowned Mystery Writers Discuss Their Work. Scribner’s, hardcover, 1986; softcover, August 1987.
Col-lo-qui-um: an informal conference or group discussion.
Mr. Winks, who goes by the resounding title of “Randolph W. Townsend, Jr.” at Yale, wrote to his fifteen favorite living authors, and eleven replied with short commentaries on their journeys into the realm of crime fiction.
Robert Barnard talks of detective stories as a form of entertainment and has a prejudice for their being “well plotted, fast and ingenious.” Rex Burns comments that “mystery writing is the paradox of an art form that, while working within its own strict formal requirements, attempts to recreate the effect and appearance of contemporary life with its everyday formlessness.”
K. C. Constantine says “I started writing crime fiction because I’d had no success selling anything else I’d written.” He certainly had to go on from there as his small town cop Mario Balzic is classic. After him comes Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Michael Gilbert and Donald Hamilton, whose essay is entitled “Shut Up and Write.”
Joseph Hansen explains why he chose a gay investigator in the “uptight” insurance field as his series detective. Tony Hillerman discusses the fine art of mixing anthropology with the arcane procedures of the Navaho Tribal Police. Reginald Hill talks about how he develops the scenes of his stories from his own experiences.
James McClure says “Discovery is a vital part of writing for me.” He once plotted and outlined himself into a writer’s block. And finally… Robert B. Parker is quoted as being “an Apostle of the possible.”
The one thing that is very evident from these essays and from Mr. Winks’s commentary on them is that writers read. They read heavily, thirstily and, most of all, with perception, enjoyment and understanding. We hope all of our readers will follow their leadership.