Crime writing? Duhhhhhhhhh

Writer says fumes made her “go lowbrow.”

A prize-winning novelist has won a settlement of more than £100,000 after she claimed to have become so intoxicated by fumes from a nearby shoe factory that she was reduced to writing thrillers.

Joan Brady, who beat Andrew Motion and Carol Anne Duffy to win the Whitbread Prize in 1993 with her book The Theory of War, has received £115,000 in an out-of-court settlement after she suffered numbness in her hands and legs allegedly caused by solvents used by Conker, a cobbler based next to her home in Totnes, Devon.

She told The Times that the fumes were so bad that she was unable to concentrate on writing her highbrow novel, Cool Wind from the Future, and instead wrote a brutal crime story, Bleedout, which she found easier.

Mark Lawson says the idea that crime novels are easier to write than “serious” books is rubbish. I’m not going to disagree.

9 responses to “Crime writing? Duhhhhhhhhh

  1. Ah! So solvent abuse is the secret, I knew I was going wrong somewhere. Meg, do you have something you would like to share with us?

  2. At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I believe good writing knows no bounds. It cannot be categorized. To me, it’s always been about the story itself. If it’s well written and has characters that I care about, that’s all that really matters. A good story is just that, no matter the genre.

  3. Oh, it’s all just too much fun, this one.

    Setting aside that it’s a Good Thing to fight against toxic fumes filling the air, here are the points that struck me:

    1. A cobbler, able to pay out 115,000 pounds in a settlement? He’s going to have to work those elves double and triple time to get there. Oh, wait, it’s a FACTORY? Okay, a trans-Atlantic language gap.

    2. Well, I’m guessing here, but isn’t it a basic tenet that you write Litery for the glory and Commercial for the money? I mean, I know the vast majority of popular writers still can’t quit their day jobs, but unless you’re Atwood or Kingsolver, isn’t it still better odds than trying to pay off the mortgage with a critically acclaimed treatise of great merit? I’m wondering why The Cobbler isn’t asking for a piece of the action.

    3. I like the quote from the factory owner: “My two children worked at the factory for six years each. Theres no way we would have subjected ourselves, let alone our children, to toxic fumes. The Dickensian image is delicious.

  4. C’mon guys, where’ve you been? Everybody knows you have to be high on paint thinner fumes to even contemplate writing a crime thriller. Sheesh!

  5. No kidding, Ken. Blacking-out can be a pleasant break in the day…

  6. Word of warning to all of you, don’t ever light a match near Meg when she’s been writing!

  7. Pingback: No duh: thriller writers not so dumb after all « lying for a living

  8. Pingback: Highbrow, lowbrow, one more time « lying for a living

  9. Just another way to feather one’s nest–and a nasty way to do it. If her writing was as good as she claimed, she would not have had to stoop so low.

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