I picked up Patricia Highsmith’s book on writing titled “Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction” last week for $1.00 at a library book sale. Bargain!
The book is entertaining, for the most part, and she tells anecdotes about writing and editing several of her books, everything from the germ of an idea to development through multiple revisions. At the end, she includes a “case history” for her novel, The Glass Cell.
My aim in reading was to understand the writer’s task from the non-literary fiction angle. So when I reached the last chapter, it felt like she was speaking directly to me in a section titled “The Suspense Label:”
…Strangers on a Train, which was just “a novel” when I wrote it, …was labeled a “suspense novel.” From that time on, whatever I wrote was put in the “suspense” category, which means to have one’s novel fated, at least at the start of one’s writing career, to no more than three-inch reviews in newspapers, squeezed among good and bad novels that get the same treatment…In France, England, and Germany, I am not categorized as a suspense novelist, but simply as a novelist, with greater prestige, longer reviews, and larger sales, proportionately, than in America…
Hey you, Jilanne! Get off your high horse about this literary cr@p.