Q&A with Fiona Peters and Rebecca Stewart

What was the inspiration behind Crime Uncovered: Antihero?

The paradoxical idea of an anti-hero is one that continues to fascinate and enthral. These characters, who subvert notions of heroism, are often ineffectual and flawed, and yet we are drawn to them. Furthermore, we are enticed to be complicit in their acts of ‘anti-heroism’. This collection of essays was born out of a desire to understand why we continue to root for the anti-hero in literature, film and television, despite our conscious revulsion at some of their actions. As well as engaging with well known characters, such as Walter White of Breaking Bad fame and Patricia Highsmith’s deliciously amoral Tom Ripley,  this collection introduces readers to lesser known anti-heroes, such as John Burdett’s Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. 

Who are some of your favourite crime authors and why?

Agatha Christie has always been one of my Rebecca’s favourite crime fiction authors. This is partly due to the fact that she has been reading Christie since she was 11, and have been devouring her narratives ever since. Further to the sheer pleasure that she gets from her writing, you arguably get a lot more from her writing than the reputation of cosy whodunnits would suggest. Christie was a writer who in her time broke every ‘rule’ of Golden Age detective novels.

As evidenced by her chapter in the volume, Fiona’s favourite crime author is Patricia Highsmith. She became hooked after being given a copy of Deep Water in 1982, and it has been a great pleasure to her to be able to incorporate this love into her teaching and also the monograph Anxiety and Evil in the Writing of Patricia Highsmith (Ashgate, 2011) and several journal articles and book chapters, most recently this volume and her guest edited issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection(2015)

What first attracted you to the study of the crime genre and fiction?

Partly we were attracted to the study of crime fiction because we love it: this hugely popular genre is one that we have always got a lot of pleasure from. However, more than this, the critical approaches to crime fiction that have appeared in recent years, such as gender studies, narrative theory and film theory, have all inspired us to study and teach the genre. The very fact that narratives that deal with crime and detection are so diverse and essentially defy classification make the engagement with these texts so satisfying. Furthermore, with an interest in what literature can show us about social and historical contexts, the study of crime fiction is one that is particularly fruitful. 

How do you think critical and literary theory for crime fiction has grown and evolved over the years?

As can be seen in the increase of academic conferences and university courses that look at crime fiction, this genre is clearly being reassessed from a critical and theoretical perspective. Rather than being ignored or looked down upon as ‘genre fiction’, critical engagement with this genre is becoming ever more prevalent. A case in question is the international conference series Captivating Captivity, that has been run by us at Bath Spa University, and that continues to identify different relevant themes every years – ones that prove to demonstrate that crime fiction is more than a genre but a way of thinking about the world. 

What do you think makes Intellect’s Crime uncovered series stand out from the rest?

What we find most exciting about this series is that it presents a focused discussion of some of the key areas in which crime fiction illustrates and reflects on social and individual morality, in this case the Anti-Hero, but also seen in the collection of essays dealing with the Detective. Furthermore, the volumes all include a variety of different perspectives and authors/series in one book, something that is not available elsewhere at the present time. The mixture of current and well known authors/series with the lesser known will allow the reader to both learn more about what they know, and be introduced into what they have yet to discover.

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