Guest Blog: Accidentally Noir by Fleur Bradley

When Paul asked me to guest blog, I said, “Sure!” then immediately wondered what on earth I was going to talk about. I mostly write a YA—blog about all that on my own spot—but I did get my start writing (and still write on occasion) short crime fiction, or noir fiction, or something like that—whatever you want to call it.
So I thought I would share how I got my start, since it sort of suits the noir theme. If you ask most writers, they’ll tell you that they’ve always wanted to write, and even started in elementary school. “As soon as I could pick up a crayon.” Not me. I drew pictures with the crayons I was given, and then went on dreaming about being a doctor, an actress, an anthropologist (long story for another time), and a radio show host. Instead of all that, I became a wife, mom, and that’s when I started to write short stories. Just because I was afraid that if I didn’t, I might pick up scrapbooking. Or knitting, or something like that (which would have ended badly).
It took a few years, a few publication credits, and a look at the lineup of my writer friends to realize that I write noir. Pulp fiction—most of my writer people have a great knowledge and affinity for the pulps, which is always a bit intimidating, because I know so little. I just like dark. I’ve tried to write romance (honestly, because the pay is better), but someone usually winds up dead and the killer gets away, or something like that. I like it that way, and you can’t change who you are as a writer, I’m pretty sure. But I didn’t set out to write noir. Like my writing career (I use this term loosely) came by accident, so did my genre affinity. I’m the accidental noir writer.
It’s still a mystery to me where my love for dark writing came from, but there you are. I’ve gotten to know the genre much better, and find it interesting to see it become trendy now. Crime TV shows abound—even Scifi ones that play on the pulp theme, like Caprica. Dark is cool, though noir is misunderstood by so many. Sure, it’s dark, shocking at times. Gritty. The dialogue is sparse, the characters tough. But it’s not just that.
The secret to noir is that it uses this darkness to balance out an extreme sentimentality. For you to relate to a character’s pain, to feel it to your core, you have to work hard. Understand what your tough lead is feeling just by his one line of dialogue. And this is what I love about noir, and short fiction in particular. The story is all there, but you have to work to uncover it. The crime may be gruesome, the justice elusive, but the feelings run deeper than in any other genre.
With the trendiness of noir, it ticks me off when I see that whoever jumped the bandwagon didn’t get that. They think (like in Caprica for one example) it’s all about the violence, shoot-em-up and all that, add a few dames—but it’s not, actually. It’s about getting kicked in the teeth, and then still finding a reason to stand up. That’s what noir is about. So maybe I’m an accidental noir/pulp writer, but at least I know what this means.
It’s not about the darkness; it’s about the tiny bit light underneath. Or something like that.
Here’s my bio:
Dozens of Fleur Bradley‘s short stories have appeared online and in print, in places like The Thrilling Detective, Shred of Evidence, Mysterical-E and Versal. She’s recently completed a YA suspense called TIMEFIX, which her agent will soon be submitting to publishers. You can find out more on her blog YA Sleuth (http://yasleuth.blogspot.com/) and her website (www.fleurbradley.com).
Fleur lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters, and way too many pets.