The panel, “Crime Fiction: The Genre of Dissent, Values and Codes of Conduct,” part of Gemini Ink’s State of the Book conference, was a great success even on a very hot Saturday afternoon in San Antonio. Part of the reason was the location of the retro-Latino hotel, El Tropicano, on the banks of the Riverwalk, and a lot of people in the crowded lobby and bar also attending a Shriner’s convention.
Rod Davis and his co-panelists Christopher Cook, author of Robbers and other crime and literary fiction, and Eusebio Diaz, vice president of the Baptist Health Foundation and an avid reader of classic crime and crime noir, took the audience of about 30 into an exploration of the evolution of crime and crime noir, and also the fundamental issues of right and wrong, crime and sin, and vengeance and justice that mark the country’s second most popular literary genre.
Rod and Christopher also discussed the need to avoid didactic messages and the value of making even the bad characters at least a little “good” to make then memorable characters. Rod, author of the critically-acclaimed crime noir, South, America, and the forthcoming Shoot When You Shoot, Die When You Die, explained how the addition of even small humanizing effects on the bad guys, along with flaws in the good guys, makes the conflict between them more dynamic.
The panel was based on audience interaction, which carried over into lengthy conversations following the presentations. Rod also got to visit with former San Antonio Express-News colleague Gregg Barrios, known for his plays Rancho Pancho and I-DJ and work with actor/poet James Franco. A number of authors from Texas and elsewhere also presented at the 4-day event, with closing remarks from Clay Smith, Editor in Chief of Kirkus Reviews and Literary Director of the San Antonio Book Festival.
South, America is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.