Joyce Carol Oates: I have done two previous anthologies for Johnny Temple at Akashic Books, New Jersey Noir and Prison, Noir. I had suggested to Johnny that I would like to assemble a collection titled Female Noir, but Johnny thought that the Noir series had to remain geographically specific rather than thematically. I am not sure that there was an “origin” story— the original concept was my own.
JCO: Dividing into sections is a feature of the Noir anthologies at Akashic Books. The divisions are suggestive rather than precise, though in this case the final section is accurately titled.
JCO: We contacted likely writers, who in turn introduced us to others, and these to others. This is the usual way anthologies are organized. I have many writer friends whom I invited to contribute but, unfortunately, not all could accept.
JCO: The major challenge is always to acquire the very best work that one can; the reality is that a number of writers will have to decline because they are simply over-committed to other projects. Among these were Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, and Laura Lippman. I would have liked to include one more graphic artist, but this did not work out.
JCO: I can’t single out any individual work. Each is unique in its own way. But I was particularly happy to be able to include work by a young woman artist, Laurel Hausler, who should be better known. Her elegantly lurid cover and unsettling illustrations are just right for the book.
JCO: The future of the genre?— this is a massive question. really, I cannot predict.
JCO: The mystery/crime genre is immense, and grows more complicated and all-inclusive each year. Regional, ethnic, idiosyncratic— there are no boundaries.
JCO: I’ve been admiring the richly researched historical “thrillers” of David Morrell; I am currently reading Inspector of the Dead. Quite a tour de force, to create a mystery in which Thomas de Quincy is a primary figure!
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