introducing readers to writers since 1995

May 03, 2005

Author2Author: Kyra Davis & Lynn Messina, pt. 1

by Ron Hogan

Kyra Davis and Lynn Messina both have new books out from Red Dress Ink this season. Mim Warner's Lost Her Cool is Lynn's third; Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte Kyra's first. I was interested in bringing the two women together for an Author2Author because their stories are both part of the first wave of a new trend where chick lit meets mystery and spunky heroines wind up trying to make sense of murders. Which we did touch upon, but we also dealt with a lot of other great questions faced by commercial writers...

kyradavis.jpgKyra Davis: In Mim Warner’s Lost Her Cool, you explore the pros and cons of being part of a literary trend. The new hot genre in your book is “magical nihilism,” but you make it clear to the reader that you are using this as an analogy for the chick lit phenomenon. It occurred to me that if you had written this book in the pre-Bridget Jones days, it would have been marketed as a satire on contemporary culture and none of the reviewers would have dared used the word "chick" for fear that doing so would insult someone's feminist sensibilities. Do you feel that the chick lit label has been more of a hindrance than an aid or vice versa?

messina.jpgLynn Messina: Hmm. The jury's still out on that. When my agent was shopping around my first book, Fashionistas, we came close a couple of times but in the end the verdict was always the same: no market for it. Then RDI came along and I discovered that not only was there a market for it but it had been codified with a cutesy title. So in that regard, chick lit has been a huge help and I'm deeply grateful. But I'm not sure how it will play out over the long term. My concern is that being a chick lit writer doesn't give you any room to grow. It seems to me that no matter what you write, whether it conforms to a perceived formula or varies wildly from it, your book will be reduced to this generic monolith called chick lit. Which wouldn't be such a terrible thing if the term weren't so frequently used dismissively. But it is, all the time, which chafes because--obviously--I don't think my books should be dismissed. So in answer to the hindrance question, I have to say check back with me in five years and we'll see if I'm still chafing.
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