Thursday, February 26, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY -- Unbelievability in fiction

My guest today is Vicki Delany, author of the Constable Molly Smith mystery series from Poison Pen Press.

Cosby show Remember the Cosby Show? Mom was a lawyer and Dad was a doctor and they were inevitably at home at three o’clock when the kids came in from school. I would point out to my children how unrealistic that was. Eventually one of them said, “You always ruin it, Mom.”

I’m still ruining it. But these days I only ruin it for me. I was born without the suspension of disbelief gene, I guess. I don’t go to the movies or watch TV much because I find myself pulled out of the story every time something unbelievable happens. (I do better with Science Fiction, for example I watch Battlestar Galactica. I guess if the premise is totally unrealistic then it’s okay for the plot and the characters to also be so.)

I prefer to read. And when I read, I demand that things be reasonably plausible, allowing for some literary license. If the heroine goes up against a gang of machine gun wielding bad guys, I expect her to either get shot, or be saved by an bunch of machine gun wielding good guys, not scamper off while the bullets kick up the dust at her delicate feet, because for some reason all the guns issued to the Russian army/Nazis/street thugs/drug dealers/mafi a hitmen don’t shoot straight.

I expect the novelist to have done his or her homework and to know something about forensics/science/location/history/geography and, most importantly, human nature and human physical limitations. I can accept a coincidence or two, for the sake of moving the plot along, but too much or too many and I’ll put that book down. Fortunately a lot of readers are just like me and we don’t have to suspend our disbelief – too much – to enjoy a great book.

And what's bugging YOU?
Valley of the lost
Valley of the Lost, the second in the Constable Molly Smith series by Vicki Delany, has just been released by Poisoned Pen Press. For a sneak peek visit Vicki's web page at, to read the first chapter or watch the exciting book trailer. Vicki also blogs on Type M for Murder.