Au­thor Ali­son Lit­tle­wood has no time for genre snob­bery

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

Have we done with genre snob­bery yet? I’d love to think so. Af­ter all, I’m writ­ing this in the week when Stephen King re­ceived the Na­tional Medal of Arts from Barack Obama. And don’t we all roll our eyes when we hear some­thing like, “That can’t be sci- fi/ fan­tasy/ hor­ror. It’s good!”

Well, no, of course we’re not done. ( I just en­joy these flights of whimsy now and then.) Jonathan Jones can still think it’s okay to dis­miss Terry Pratch­ett in The Guardian, with­out trou­bling to read any of his books. And there’s plenty of snob­bery within genre fic­tion. Some are sniffy about mon­sters: zom­bies, vam­pires, were­wolves… ugh! But it is pos­si­ble to breathe new life into old tropes. Look at The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey, or Let The Right One In by John Aj­vide Lindqvist.

The thing is, we tend to for­get that writ­ing should be fun. I’ve been guilty of this. Some­times the words won’t flow, but I’d still rather wres­tle with them than do any­thing else, be­cause hell, this is what I love. If I’m not en­joy­ing my­self, I de­serve a damn good arse kick­ing. I’ve re­cently been im­mersed in mon­sters. I’ve writ­ten about Satan ( hey, got to start some­where), and in­deed zom­bies. I had a blast; I’m feel­ing re­freshed.

As a reader, I love it when I can feel the fun the au­thor is hav­ing, burn­ing off the page. West­lake Soul by Rio Youers springs to mind. Or Tim Leb­bon’s The Si­lence. The Haunted Book by Jeremy Dyson, and the Lu­cifer Box nov­els by Mark Gatiss. I have no idea if the au­thors ac­tu­ally en­joyed writ­ing them, but I know what im­pres­sion I got, and I re­ally want to think they were grin­ning as they typed.

I’m not say­ing that writ­ing shouldn’t have se­ri­ous in­tent. Of course it should. It’s a means of try­ing to get to grips with the world, to com­ment upon it, to make us em­pathise with peo­ple we can never be. But give me a novel, not a ser­mon. I want to be en­ter­tained, to for­get that time is pass­ing. Read­ing and writ­ing should be cel­e­brated for what they are – a joy – rather than have the life crushed out of them and risk be­com­ing as dry – and dead – as dust.

Ali­son’s latest novel, A Cold Si­lence, is out now. www. al­ison­lit­tle­wood. co. uk

Au­thor of more than 50 nov­els meets the Pres­i­dent.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.