Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sara Paretsky

[Paretsky] was raising children, working full-time, and volunteering when she decided to write her first novel. Her decision came after thinking about Raymond Chandler's work—and not because he inspired her. She was frustrated that most of his books, six out of seven, feature a wicked femme fatale. She said, "As I began reading general fiction, I saw it as women using their bodies to try and make good boys do bad things: it was just a constant in literature of all kinds. So I wanted a woman who could be a whole person, which meant that she could be a sexual person without being evil. That she could be an effective problem solver, as women are in reality but not very often in fiction or on the screen. And that who she was sexually had nothing to do with it, except that it made her more fully human. It just took me quite a long time to come up with a way of being able to do that. And the courage, really, to try and do it at all." So she wrote Indemnity Only (1982), a novel featuring a hard-boiled female detective, V.I. Warshawski, who is smart and good with a gun and also likes nice shoes and enjoys her sex life. V.I. Warshawski was such a popular character that Paretsky has written 13 more novels about her, including Bitter Medicine (1987), Burn Marks (1990), Blacklist (2003), and most recently, Body Work (2010).

--from The Writer's Almanac for June 8, 2011