Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bouchercon 2010!

For those writers going to Bouchercon next week, I invite you to a Friday panel I'll be participating in:

INFERNO: Where will the next big idea come from?

I'm not sure about the connection between "inferno" and "next big idea" but I know with company like this, there'll be plenty to talk about:

Award-winning Swedish crime writers, Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström, Israeli playwright and author Joshua Sobol, and Iceland's queen of crime fiction, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir.

So come join us! The panel will be moderated by the fantastic Mr. Ali Karim. From all the work he's done in preparing us, I can tell you we'll be talking about the conceptual aspects of novel-writing: where do your ideas come from, how to figure out which ideas have enough meat for a novel, and how to combine all of your big ideas into a novel with simplicity and good storytelling.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Everybody Draw What??

Here's a recent news article: Molly Norris, the cartoonist who started an "Everybody Draw Mohammed" day in support of free speech is now in hiding, at the suggestion of the FBI, after fatwas were issued against her.

First of all, everybody remember "Draw Mohammed"? Yes, I believe in free speech. But NO, I don't believe in antagonizing people's religious sensitivities. And I think certain people have amply demonstrated that this is a Highly. Sensitive. Topic. for them. Or maybe more like a nuclear-meltdown topic.

Second, whoever issued those fatwas: aren't you ashamed of yourself? No? Check again.

Finally, if somebody goes into hiding, isn't it supposed to be kind of, I don't know... secret? Not a news story big enough to make it into USA Today? Just sayin.

Apparently, Molly "distanced herself" from the whole thing once it got out of hand. But her original idea was that if enough people drew pictures of Mohammed, then obviously the imams couldn't kill them all, and it would make all those fatwas seem totally lame. But alas, it turns out that the opposite occurred: she went into hiding because of a fatwa.

So what was she thinking: let's end the violence by provoking more violence? If we stoke the fire enough, it'll just - poof - vanish? You poke a hibernating bear in the chest, chances are good it will wake up and kill you.

Lawrence Wright, in an interesting New Yorker article, points out that the whole cartoon stir was essentially fabricated by a few radical imams in Denmark. That before that, not a whole lot of Danish Muslims really gave a crap about the cartoons. (Yeah, but they certainly tapped into a lot of Muslim rage.)

So when you go around exhorting folks to Draw Mohammed, you're essentially stirring up a bunch of hostility, which is pretty much what the radical imams did. In my opinion, these are ALL people who want to go to war - that's you, Molly, and you, Imam Abu Laban. You're looking for it. It doesn't really matter what your reasons are - Muslim self-righteousness, free speech, whatever - because as far as I can tell there is a way to AVOID war and still have everyone be satisfied. It's called diplomacy.

So pardon me, don't use "free speech" as an excuse to stoke a cultural war.