Friday, June 5, 2009

Chick v. Noir

So is it chick lit - lighthearted, sarcatic and funny? Or is it noir - dangerous and cynical and bleak???

The big day is coming soon - Thirty-Nine Again will officially be released in just a couple of weeks by The Wild Rose Press, although B&N and Amazon are already selling it online. People ask me what genre this book belongs to, and I've never known what to say. It's a bit of romantic comedy, some chick lit and a good dose of romantic suspense too. So I christened it "chick noir."

So what exactly is noir fiction? Real noir is much, much darker than Thirty-Nine Again. Although people die in my story and the heroine's in very real danger, her point of view isn't anything like the bleakly cynical attitude of Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett's unnamed Continental detective.

I think there's a reason there are no great female noir detectives and that's because women don't tend to develop that bitter, crusty, fatalism so essential to Sam Spade and his ilk. I don't know if that's a hormonal thing or a cultural thing. Possibly it's just because women rarely have enough time to themselves to wallow in their own disappointment! In Thirty-Nine Again, for example, Sabrina's view is realistic and maybe just a teensy bit bitter. But for good or ill, like most women, if she feels mistreated by life, she accepts it as her due and tries to make a joke about it.

At one point, my hero Evan, a Homeland Security agent, confesses to Sabrina that his superior wanted her brought in for questioning but Evan resisted, due to his own rather unprofessional attraction to her. Sabrina laughs at the very idea of having that kind of affect on a man and slaps him down (pretty literally, in fact) with a snide reference to Sam Spade and his ill-fated involvement in the search for The Maltese Falcon.

That's why Thirty-Nine Again is more "Chick" than "noir." Or at least, I hope it is!

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