CENTER FOR FICTION: “FEMME FATALE: VILLAIN OR ANTIHERO WITH HILARY DAVIDSON”
Via Zoom 10/25/23, 11/15/23, 12/6/23, 1/3/24, 1/17/24
Ever since Eve offered Adam an apple in the Garden of Eden, women have been blamed for the downfall of men. But in post-WWII America, the archetype of the femme fatale became an obsession in novels, films, and the popular imagination. During the war, women had unprecedented freedom and independence, often taking on traditionally “male” work to support the war effort. But when soldiers returned home, women were expected to retire quietly to the domestic sphere. Those who insisted on keeping their independence were dangerous to the status quo.
The femme fatale became a staple of hardboiled crime fiction. She was often written about as a conniving, cruel woman who uses her beauty and sexual charms to dupe good men into committing crimes on her behalf. While some authors treat these women as obvious villains, others offer a more interesting, nuanced take, exploring what it means to move through the world when the deck is stacked against you. Misogyny, poverty, class, and race are all motivating factors for the femmes fatales created by the authors we read in this course. All of them offer thought-provoking perspectives on the archetype of the femme fatale.
VIRTUAL EVENT: IN CONVERSATION WITH DAVID SWINSON
Thursday, November 9, 2023, noon-1pm Eastern Time
It’s launch week for David Swinson’s standalone novel SWEET THING, and Hilary will be interviewing him about the book in a virtual event hosted by Fountain Bookstore.
NOIR AT THE BAR NYC
Sunday, July 30, 2023, 6pm-9pm
Come to the best live-reading series in crime fiction! Noir at the Bar NYC takes place at Shade (241 Sullivan Street, NYC, 10002; 212-982-6275). Hilary will read with a great group of writers including Alison Gaylin, Lee Matthew Goldberg, Dennis Tafoya, Jen Conley and Scott Adlerberg. Free event, open to all!
CENTER FOR FICTION: “THE HORRORS THAT HAUNT US WITH HILARY DAVIDSON”
Via Zoom 1/12/23, 2/9/23, 3/9/23, 4/6/23
Gothic novels often deal with the supernatural, but a powerful tradition of female writers have long employed the genre to explore the terrors and anxieties of the real world. Early examples—such as Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, and Charlotte Brontë—dealt with dark themes including trauma and domestic abuse, tyrannical family and madness. This subgenre of Gothic fiction holds up a mirror that reflects the darkness of the world and the fragility of our bonds with each other.
The authors we read in this course continue that tradition, using tropes of Gothic horror to explore contemporary fears and anxieties. The Gothic tradition exposes the rot beneath grand surfaces—revealing there’s as much terror to be found in a gentrifying neighborhood as in a decaying mansion—and probes the toxic power of family secrets. This diverse group of authors asks who we can trust—and if we can even trust ourselves.
SISTERS IN CRIME PANEL: “WHEN DONE IS DONE”
Tuesday, June 21, 7pm Eastern Time (virtual event)
We’ve all heard that the secret to great writing is in rewriting, but what’s the secret behind great rewriting? For an author, diving back into your own work for draft after draft is both a necessary process and a risk. How do you know if you’re actually strengthening your story, or if you’re stuck in a loop of endless revisions? What do you do if you and your editor have different visions for the book? This panel featuring bestselling and award-winning authors Hilary Davidson, Brianna Labuskes, Alma Katsu, and Alex Segura and Mulholland Books editor Helen O’Hare will discuss what goes into rewriting (and editing) to make your fiction shine.
CENTER FOR FICTION: “AGATHA CHRISTIE’S HEIRS: MODERN MYSTERIES INSPIRED BY THE QUEEN OF CRIME FICTION WITH HILARY DAVIDSON”
Via Zoom 3/10/22, 3/31/22, 4/21/22, 5/26/22, 6/23/22
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Agatha Christie in the world of mystery fiction. Between 1920 and 1976, Christie published some 75 novels, 165 short stories, and 16 plays—a body of work that continues to fascinate and delight readers around the world. Christie’s fiction—and her perennially popular detectives Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot—endure in part because her impeccably crafted mysteries are logical puzzles that are almost unsolvable, and yet can be worked out by the most attentive readers. (Christie always provides the necessary clues, albeit in a mass of red herrings.)
Christie’s work has inspired many modern crime writers, who have created their own captivating locked-room mysteries and unforgettable detectives. The contemporary writers this course focuses on bring varied perspectives to their books, exploring themes of class, race, and gender, broadening and deepening the appeal of their work. Some are set in international settings far from Christie’s English villages, but all will intrigue fans of her classic mysteries.