The Chicks are thrilled to welcome acclaimed author Rachel Howzell Hall to her first guest post. Rachel is the author of the bestselling Lou Norton series, as well as several highly-lauded stand-alone crime novels. Her post, like her gripping mysteries, is passionate and eloquent.
Mystery and crime writers thrive off of fear and the state of uncertainty. Many of us create so that we can better navigate the world, better understand why people do the things they do—for good and bad—and what they’ll to do next. For us, telling stories makes life more bearable. The more stories we tell, and the more stories we hear, we can deal with our wounds better, maybe even come to live with them, gain the skills to dress them properly. Make even wreathe them with marigolds and fragrant lavender. Stories calm the fear and ease the flailing.
That’s why you’d think by now that stories written by people of color in crime would receive the notice and wide readership that white writers do. We know fear. We know flailing. You’d think by now that publishers, journalists and the media-at-large would throw marketing budgets and provide outlets for writers of color. We’re interesting. We’ve faced awful people with blatant hate or who are the termites-eating-away-at-an-old-house kind of evil. Believe me: we have stories to tell. You’d think by now that there would be no erasure of black women who write crime writers, or Latina women who write crime, since women are, too many times, on the receiving end of crime. You’d think the powers-that-be and the influencers and the tastemakers would say, ‘Hey, how about you? What do you think of the state of crime and mystery writing? What stories are we missing? What story are you telling?’
But even today, crime-writing is still Their World. Women of color crime-writers are an afterthought, flair on a collar. Right now, black women especially, have been the loudest in demanding more for everyone—equal time, equal pay, equal space, fair representation. We are mentoring, we are sharing our wounds, we are straight-up fiery flair with an arsenic chaser if you diminish us. The women in our books are more than fretting mothers, and stiff-spined, Bible-thumping Big Mommas, and long-suffering wives. Our women clap back and slap hard if you dare bring that shit into our house. Our stories pop. Our stories matter.
Since we’re now going on six months of living with a pandemic, you’d think by now that readers would rush to read about other people’s lives, lives that don’t resemble their own. Especially since they’ve been stuck with their own for half a year. You’d think by now that our stories are no longer seen as ‘soft’ since many of these stories center around women and home/family life. C’mon: some real shit goes down in those family homes. Which is why so many of us are f**ked up in the head.
You’d think by now, that I’d stop caring and just write.
But squinty-eyed rumination is what I—what writers—do. I will never stop needing to understand, and my figuring it all out may take writing more books and watching more episodes of Forensic Files. It will take more living and celebrating and being disappointed. You’d think by the end of this, after hashing it all out, I’d have an answer for you, especially for young writers. But how can I since I don’t have an answer for me? No—I’ll just have to write another story, one that will make things clearer… and I will have an easier time writing that book and penning an essay about that book…
Readers, do you have favorite writers of color? Share them with us! If you’re interested in discovering more terrific mystery authors of color, visit this website, crimewritersofcolor.com.
SYNOPSIS: Isabel Lincoln is gone. But is she missing? It’s up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray’s search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman’s secrets and the truth she’s hidden from her friends and family.
BIO: Rachel Howzell Hall, author of the bestseller and Anthony Award-, Lefty Award- and ITW-award nominated They All Fall Down (Forge), writes the acclaimed Lou Norton series, including Land of Shadows, Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes, and City of Saviors. She is also the co-author of The Good Sister with James Patterson, which was included in the New York Times bestseller The Family Lawyer. She is currently on the board of directors for the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a Pitch Wars mentor for 2020. She lives in Los Angeles. Her next novel And Now She’s Gone will be published in September 2020. You can find her at www.rachelhowzell.com and on Twitter @RachelHowzell.