Sam Hawken Posts

A man shrugging.I’m sorry, but I cannot read your writing.  Actually, scratch that, I do not want to read your writing.  Though before you go away angry, let me assure you that this has nothing to do with your work.  Or you, for that matter.  It’s a question of time, feelings and lawsuits.

Let’s start with feelings.  A few years back I acted against my better judgment and read the work of an aspiring crime writer.  It was terrible, and though I tried my best to couch my distaste in gentle language, I still received an email from the man saying I was the only writer who had ever hurt his feelings.  He then proceeded to have various bitter tirades on social media about how mean writers are.  There may be some truth to that, but not in this particular case.

It’s not my job to teach others how to develop the thick skin necessary to succeed in this business.  It has to be done, but it has to be done alone.  I have no part in that process.  Whoever you are out there, I’m sure you’ll get where you need to get on your own.

Then there’s time.  I simply don’t have time to read all the stuff people ask me to read.  I don’t even have time for all the things I have to read.  I just don’t.  Again, it’s nothing personal.  It’s either read someone’s writing or do my own work.  I must choose the latter.

Finally, the biggie: lawsuits.  Even though idea theft is exceedingly rare, if not nonexistent, many aspiring authors think their brilliant concepts are unique and prime targets for robbery.  They aren’t, but that doesn’t stop people from suing authors who may one day write something that’s vaguely similar to a piece they read.  If I don’t have time to read, I certainly don’t have time for court appearances.

I’m sure you’re a very good writer and your ideas are great and you’ll be a tremendous success.  Let’s leave it at that.


Year of the Pig 2019


crime scene tape

I couldn’t give you an exact date, but I can definitely nail down the general period when I decided I no longer wanted to write crime: late 2012.  At that point I’d enjoyed measurable sucess with The Borderland Trilogy (link), and there was significant pressure (which still hasn’t abated) for me to write more of the same.  Maybe not set in Mexico, but it had to be crime.  The thing is, I didn’t want to write crime, and I had good reasons for that.

Though I’m sure there are exceptions, I feel crime is a genre which revels in misery.  How many brooding, alcoholic detectives are there out there, listening to opera or jazz until they have to track down the next serial murderer or rapist?  How many tortured or mutilated women have you read about?  Or dead kids?  Or self-destructive drug addicts?  Wife-beaters?

You may notice elements from my own books in there, and that’s because I was hip-deep in the demands of the genre.  And I wanted out.  I wanted to be able to get up from the keyboard every day without feeling like I had to take a shower.  I wanted my characters to have accomplished something at the end of their stories, regardless of how much it might have cost along the way.  I wanted to write about heroes, not temporary winners.  If crime is the genre of misery, then I was tired of being miserable.

This isn’t to say all endings are happy.  They certainly aren’t.  Over the last few months I’ve submitted a couple of manuscripts with decidedly dark (or at least murky) endings.  But, again, this is not the same as the nihilism posited by so much crime fiction.  There’s a point and purpose to whatever darkness exists in these fictive worlds.  It’s not noir for noir’s sake, which is the tiresome norm in the crime genre.

Will I never, ever write a crime novel again?  I wouldn’t say that.  But if I do, don’t expect what you read before.  I’m all done with that.