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Q&A with Rachel Franks and Carl Freedman

Rachel Franks, co-editor (with Alistair Rolls) for Crime Uncovered: Private Investigator

Why do you think the crime genre is so popular?

Crime fiction offers so much to so many. The genre allows people to read for character, language, setting and story better than any other: there is, quite literally, a dead body to suit every reader's taste.

Do you have any favourite crime TV shows, movies or books?

My taste is quite eclectic. I enjoy watching most crime shows, from Midsomer Murders to True Detective. I'm waiting for the next season of BBC's Sherlock. When it comes to reading crime fiction there is very little that I do not enjoy. My favourites include some of the early short stories that defined the modern genre (Poe and Doyle), novels that exemplify the clue puzzle (Christie and Sayers) and classic hardboiled works (Hammett and Chandler). I always return to Australian crime fiction. 

Why do you think Intellect’s Crime Uncovered series stands out from the rest?

This new series from Intellect offers volumes that scrutinise different aspects of the world's most popular genre. Students and scholars of crime fiction will enjoy overviews of well-known authors and characters as well as be introduced to some less-familiar names of crime fiction. 

If you could be any anti-hero or a detective who would you be and why?

I wouldn't mind life as Tuppence Beresford: Agatha Christie's adventurer for hire. Tuppence is curious, smart and quite the private investigator. She also ages across the four novels and the one collection of short stories that she appears in - unlike Poirot and Marple - this makes her one of Christie's more realistic creations. 

Carl Freedman, Versions of Hollywood Crime Cinema

What was the inspiration behind your book Versions of Hollywood Crime Cinema?

Insofar as there was any single “inspiration,” it was simply a longstanding—in some cases almost lifelong—love for the films I write about.  I did not begin with theories of crime cinema and then pick films to illustrate the theories; I began with the films and tried to construct theories that would be useful in understanding them. 

What are some of your favourite crime films and books?

The three major genres of crime cinema are mob movies, film noir, and Westerns.  Some favourites:  among mob movies, the Godfather trilogy of Francis Ford Coppola, and also Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas; in the field of film noir, above all Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity; among Westerns, the best films directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, especially The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  

Where do your own personal research and academic interests lie?

Film and television; science fiction; Marxist critical theory; US electoral politics.

What do you think makes the genre of crime cinema so popular?

Crime, by definition, is what we are not allowed to do.  It therefore defines, by inversion, what we are allowed to do, and therefore, to a considerable extent, who and what we are.  Crime and its (cinematic and other) representations show us, indirectly, what we are.

We hope you enjoy reading the interview and don't forget to enter our competition to win the Detective and Antihero books!

Read more Posted by Eden Joseph at 09:49 (0) comments
Q&A with Levi Stahl for crime week

Intellect conducted a short Q&A with the editor of The Getaway Car: A Donald Westlake Nonfiction Miscellany, Levi Stahl to get his thoughts on the crime genre and our new series.

Why do you think the crime genre is so popular?

I know why I read crime fiction: it’s when I want something that I know will engage me and actively distract me from the world—but at the same time introduce some elements of surprise or danger, a sense that there’s something real at stake. It’s comforting to know, going into a book, what you’re going to find—even if in a really, really rough fashion—yet also know you’re going to be surprised and excited. It’s comfort food that preys, brilliantly, on the fact that in everyday life the dangers and problems we face aren’t ever as clear-cut or easy to solve cleanly as what we find in the crime genre. Even in hardboiled fiction, there’s a sense that the world can to some extent be put to rights, or that there’s at least honor in making the attempt. In everyday life, that’s not always obviously true. 

Do you have any favourite crime TV shows, movies or books?

In books, Donald Westlake is my favorite, but I’m also a huge fan of the old standbys Hammett and Chandler; the two MacDonalds, Ross and John D.; writers of oddly tilted cozies Rex Stout and Ellis Peters; the darkness of Patricia Highsmith; and contemporary writers like Megan Abbott and Tana French, who keep showing that there are new things still to be discovered in the genre. Movies and TV? The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, Kiss Me Deadly, The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon, Wild Things (seriously—when Neve Campbell’s femme fatale pulls out her own goddam tooth because the guy is too soft to do it, that’s as noir as it gets), Sexy Beast, The Wire, Homicide. That’s surely enough!

Why do you think Intellect’s Crime Uncovered series stands out from the rest?

I appreciate the attempt to offer a broad—in disciplinary approach, international reach, and range of cultural items—look at the topics, and after years of working in a university press marketing department, I’m always supportive of attempts to bridge the world of scholars and fans, acknowledging that the ways they engage with their areas of interest aren’t wholly foreign to each other.

If you could be any anti-hero or a detective who would you be and why?

Detective. I’m way, way too boring to be an anti-hero.

We hope you enjoy reading the interview and don't forget to enter our competiton to win the Detective and Antihero books!

Read more Posted by Eden Joseph at 14:52 (0) comments
Win a copy of Crime Uncovered: Antihero

Be the first person to answer the question below and send it to eden@intellectbooks.com by the end of the week to win a copy of Crime Uncovered: Antihero!

What is the name of the real life mobster on which the character Tony Soprano is based on?

Here's what Fiona Peters and Rebecca Stewart, editors of Antihero have to say about the genre.

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.

Read more Posted by Eden Joseph at 09:41 (0) comments
Call for Papers: Metaverse Creativity

Aims and Scope

Metaverse Creativity is an academic peer-reviewed journal focusing on virtual creativity in online virtual worlds and other related platforms where the virtual is examined as a central theme in contemporary media art practices and applied contexts. The subject of digital creativity and its subsequent exploration are sought from the broad perspective of Art, Science and Technology in what is a widespread field of discourse. A focus of the journal is an examination of the creative activity in the metaverse from art, design and architecture, to research and education, to play and entertainment. Additionally, the journal seeks to engage with ways in which the virtual reflects upon the implications of the physical.

The spectrum of topics that fall within the scope of the journal include:

  • Creative Practices related to Virtual Worlds, Augmented Space, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality, Future Immersive Worlds, Physical/Virtual Dialogues
  • Art, Science and Technology – Art and Science, Art and Technology, Art as Research / Practice Based Research
  • Virtual technologies – Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, Cognitive Informatics, Brain-Computer Interfaces
  •  Embodiment Practices – the Avatar, Identity, Performance, Gender
  • Applied Practices related to Networked Performance, Art and Heritage, and Cyber-museums
  • Learning in Virtual Worlds, and applications related to Therapy and Health Theoretical Contexts

Call for Papers

Articles should be between 5000 and 10,000 words in length, including keywords, full references, bibliography and an abstract of no more than 300 words detailing the key areas of investigation, supplemented with colour images (to be supplied separately), which are at least 1600 pixels wide (300 dpi). Given the scope and breadth of the topics listed above, authors are kindly asked that their contributions be accessible to the non-specialist reader whilst retaining all of the requirements of academic rigor.

In addition to full text articles, proposals for reviews, scope related interviews and photo essays that document, evaluate or reflect on creative activity in a virtual context can also be undertaken. In this instance individuals are required to submit visual material together with a written proposal which should include a critical introduction of no more than 500 words outlining to the editorial team why the work submitted is relevant to the theme of the journal. Please refer to the Intellect Style Guide before submitting to the journal.

Submission Deadline: Friday 15 April 2016.

Submissions and enquiries should be sent to the editors: Elif Ayiter (ayiter@gmail.com) and Denise Doyle (D.Doyle@wlv.ac.uk). 

Read more Posted by Eden Joseph at 16:12 (0) comments
Intellect staff Q&A for crime week

Bethan Ball, Journals Manager

Why do you think the crime genre is so popular?

Everybody loves a mystery, which is the core element of Crime storytelling. Crime fiction is awash with cliffhangers and suspense that keep the reader/viewer hooked with a compulsion to consume more and more. Crime series typically centre around a detective who is troubled, complicated and often with a dark secret of their own. Readers/viewers are therefore drawn both to the mystery of the story and of the detective as well. 

Crime fiction also allows the reader to indulge in gritty – often bloody and corrupt – life and death situations that are safely disconnected from reality. 

Do you have any favourite crime TV shows, movies or books?

I’m a big fan of Nordic Noir, in particular The Killing and The Bridge. The French police drama Spiral is also excellent. I am partial to an episode of Murder she Wrote.

Why do you think Intellect’s Crime Uncovered series stands out from the rest?

Crime Uncovered offers a deeper academic analysis of the crime fiction genre than many other publications on the topic, whilst remaining accessible and reader-friendly. The series breaks down the various components of crime fiction, and investigates what it is that makes such dark stories and and immoral characters so appealing.

If you could be any anti-hero or a detective who would you be and why?

Sarah Lund from The Killing. The recent surge in Scandinavian crime series has introduced some excellent strong female protagonists that the genre was previously severely lacking. Sarah Lund is one of my favourite fictional characters, I just love how blunt and direct she is. In many ways she is very flawed – she is a terrible mother for example! – but her dedication and integrity, and complete indifference to how she is perceived by others is inspirational. I don’t always agree with the decisions that she makes, and ultimately they make her very unhappy. She is only every comfortable when focused on a case and struggles to identify with people outside of a professional environment, but it is so refreshing to see a female character who is headstrong and not preoccupied with her appearance or in need of validation by men.

Holly Rose, Marketing Director.

Why do you think the crime genre is so popular?

The mystery and the page turning nature of the books, also the clever tricks and tactics are intriguing  

Do you have any favourite crime TV shows, movies or books?

I use to love the TV show cracker when was younger, his character was powerful and really got into crime fiction with the dragon tattoo series. 

Why do you think Intellect’s Crime Uncovered series stands out from the rest?

I think this series stands out form the rest because it offers an in-depth analysis into certain character types in an accessible fashion. It also offers 

If you could be any anti-hero or a detective who would you be and why?

Scooby-doo – just because he is quite funny.

Tim Mitchell, Senior Production Editor

Why do you think the crime genre is so popular?

I think there are a number of reasons for the huge popularity of crime fiction (including film and television). Certainly nothing is quite as readable (or watchable) as a murder mystery (and it almost always is murder we are discussing when we are discussing crime fiction; fraud mysteries are slightly down the pecking order – unless murder is involved in which case they go straight back to the top, Double Indemnity for example).

Most crime fiction conforms to a number of standard rules of the genre that are rarely broken (which can make it seem quite formulaic), however within this framework of agreed rules and conventions there is room for a variety of elements to keep the crime aficionado coming back for more: Characters are clearly one element - a strong protagonist can keep a series of stories running almost indefinitely; the puzzle itself, and how well formulated it is, is important and helps to hook the reader/viewer into the story; setting/location has also become paramount with whole regional sub-divisions of crime fiction (Nordic noir, Tartan noir etc.).  Increasingly crime fiction has become a vehicle for examining society, politics and culture in a particular country, and a strong element of realism has been introduced by the Scandinavian authors to counterpoint the more traditional Golden Age clue-puzzle crime dramas. This has perhaps helped to draw more readers in who may have previously been sceptical of the literary merits of the genre. 

Following a detective or private investigator allows the writer and reader privileged access into government buildings and people’s homes, across the world, as well as the right to ask questions that require a truthful answer, but do not always get one. The reader (or viewer) is then placed in a position of constant reflection and suspicion in an attempt to understand and unravel what is going on. The best crime fiction plays with these parameters of suspense and suspicion.

Ultimately however crime mysteries satisfy something about the human search for Truth and knowledge, so one particular crime in a particular locale becomes something much bigger and more universal, encompassing ideas about epistemology, causality, mortality and redemption. I think all of this goes someway to explaining the appeal of the genre.

Do you have any favourite crime TV shows, movies or books?

I am a big fan of the Hollwood film noir classics from the 1940s/1950s, anything by Otto Preminger (Where the Sidewalk Ends, Laura), Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Criss Cross), John Huston (The Asphalt Jungle, The Maltese Falcon) Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard), or Orson Welles (Lady from Shanghai, Touch of Evil). 

The French classics from the same era such as Lift to the Scaffold, Pepe le Moko, Rififi, Les Diaboliques are also great.

Contemporary crime television  drama such as The Killing, probably the single greatest example of what can be done with the crime fiction template on television. I also like The Bridge, The Wire, The Sopranos, True Detective, Breaking Bad and Wallander (the Swedish versions). The quality of the characterization in modern television drama is outstanding.

I came to crime on the page last - a classic example of a literary snob. It is only through my interest in film noir and crime dramas that I have discovered the original texts from Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Georges Simenon, Henning Mankell and James Ellroy.

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, if you can call that a crime novel, is one of my favourites. I think it is an anti-detective novel in fact but still discusses the elements of the search, knowledge and identity whist deconstructing the genre itself.

I am currently reading Betty by Arnaldur Indridason, which is excellent.

Why do you think Intellect’s Crime Uncovered series stands out from the rest?

Intellect’s Crime Uncovered series is an attempt to capture and reflect upon the current obsession with all things crime related in popular culture. The manner in which we have chosen to explore the subject I hope helps the series to stand out from either a solely academic discussion of the topic, or a more fan-based study. We are hoping to strike the middle ground between the two – taking the topic seriously throughout its many manifestations and not solely focusing on television studies, film studies or literary criticism in isolation. 

We have also chosen to dissect crime fiction through the lens of the most compelling protagonist types, and examples of these characters. As mentioned above, it is through the vehicle of these characters that crime fiction can truly excel, once we empathise with a particular detective, private eye or antihero we are hooked for the series. What is it about these characters that we find so fascinating? The nationality of these protagonists and their authors necessarily means that we are also exploring setting and cultural variations within crime fiction. A number of the books feature chapters about non-translated characters so it is a great way to find out more about the world of crime beyond just that which is currently available in English.

If you could be any antihero or a detective who would you be and why?

Tony Soprano - for his decisiveness, and love of food and wine.

Read more Posted by Eden Joseph at 15:15 (0) comments
Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies 3.2

A new issue of Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies 3.2 is now available online. This issue focuses on the multifaceted issue of the the indigenous voice within Pacific Studies. NZPS 3.2 opens with articles on Maori theatre (by Hilary Halba), and Maori and Pacific Islands arts festivals (by Jared Mackley-Crump). A localised study by Karen McNamara, Birthday Lisimoni-Togahai and Roy Smith explores the effect of outmigration on the Pacific Island of Niue. And Erica Anderson's article on domestic violence in the Cook Islands, with her devised tool the 'Timeline of Abuse', closes the article section with a hard-hitting and highly significant subject. The issue concludes with the review section, covering 22 titles in total. 

To access the whole issue please click here

Read more Posted by Eden Joseph at 14:21 (0) comments
Win a copy of Crime Uncovered: Detective

Be the first person to answer the question below and send it to eden@intellectbooks.com by the end of the week to win a copy of Crime Uncovered: Detective!

From which English dramatist’s play is P.D James’ debut novel’s name taken from?

Please also find below a Q&A with the editor of Detective, Barry Forshaw

How would you describe the Crime-Uncovered series in a few words?

Crime Uncovered is a series that manages the nigh-impossible: fresh and provocative insights into a much-covered genre that sends readers back to the wonderful original material.

What first attracted you to the study of crime fiction?

In my case, it's a question of natural selection. I’d always loved the genre (both on the page and on the screen), but no more than (say) literary novels, the gothic or science fiction. But writing for various newspapers – and being commissioned by various publishers – to cover the crime fiction genre, I became (almost by default) one of the authorities. But I'm not complaining!

Do you have any favourite crime authors and books?

In the US: Ross Macdonald and Patricia Highsmith. In the UK: Graham Greene (in his ‘entertainments’ mode), Conan Doyle and Eric Ambler. Otherwise, far too many to mention.

What do you think makes Intellect’s crime uncovered series stand out from others?A stimulating combination of the accessible and the academic, always a rare balancing act to bring off successfully

Did you learn anything new about the genre whilst editing this book

Whenever I'm editing books on crime fiction by other writers, I learn something new every day. And I fervently hope that continues to be the case!

Read more Posted by Eden Joseph at 10:51 (0) comments