If you’re kind enough to read this blog on a regular basis, you may remember that I’m working on some research into the way crime fiction teaches idioms, language and culture. One set of questions I asked in this research has to do with readers’ interest in culture. Are readers aware of and interested in the cultural details and context that they encounter in their crime fiction? Here are a few things I found when I looked at the data that you folks were kind enough to help me get.
One question I asked was whether crime fiction readers choose novels because of their cultural content. That is, do readers choose a novel because it’s set in one or another cultural context?
As you see, culture is an important factor in choice of book, at least among the participants in this study. One hundred seven (just over 86%) of the 124 participants said that they often or sometimes choose a crime novel because it’s set in a different culture. This, to me, suggests strongly that crime fiction readers are interested in other cultures and in cultural content.
It’s one thing to be interested in culture. It’s another to follow up on that interest. So I also asked about topics that readers explore further after they’ve read a crime novel. I wanted to see whether readers are interested enough in culture and language to look up extra information and read more. Here’s what I found.
Of the 124 participants, 65 (52%) said they look up further information on culture or idioms/language. This certainly isn’t an overwhelming trend. But it does suggest that readers are interested in learning more about culture, and that crime fiction may play a role in sparking that interest.
Regardless of whether readers want to explore culture in depth, it seems very clear from the data I examined that readers do want cultural authenticity in their crime fiction. I asked participants how important it is to them that their crime fiction represent culture in authentic ways. Here was the response:
It’s very clear that readers find authenticity important; 114 (almost 92%) of this study’s participants reported that it’s either very or somewhat important to them that their crime fiction be culturally authentic. To me, this implies that culture is interesting and important enough that readers want it portrayed accurately. It seems that, just as readers want their characters to be believable and the plot elements to be credible, they also want the cultural context to be realistic.
In Other News…
I’m planning to present this data at a conference next week. Where? I thought it might be fun to invite you to use your own detective skills to find out. So I’ve invented a little game/competition. Here’s how it will work:
Each day, beginning today, I’ll provide one clue as to my destination.
Anyone who’s interested is invited to put the clues together and see if you can work out where I’ll be.
The first person to get the right answer wins!
What’s the prize?
I will write a special short crime story just for the winner. That means the winner gets to tell me where the story will take place, what kinds of major characters are involved, and so forth. I’ll use those details and write the story. Then, I’ll post it right here on this blog.
If you’re the winner, you can send me a ‘photo to inspire the story, or you can simply tell me what you want the story to be about; you can even have me put you in the story if you wish. I only have two conditions: I won’t write ‘torture porn’ or extremely violent kinds of stories; and I won’t write stories in which harm is done to children or animals. Otherwise, I will be your ‘story genie’ 😉
Here is your first clue:
I will need this in order to get where I’m going. Good luck!
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Sass Jordan’s Going Back Again.