You talk in this piece about how you came to draw as inspiration not one but two books: Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and Thomas Harris's Silence of the Lambs. What do you think Christie and Harris would make of the resulting book? Would Christie prefer the more cerebal parts and Harris the more action-oriented parts perhaps those featuring Aldiss, who DOES sort of remind me of Hannibal Lecter?
Great question. I would hope both writers would see Dominance as an homage rather than a blatant rip-off of their creations, but one never knows. I will say this: I read Silence of the Lambs for the first time as I was beginning Dominance. I'd seen the movie but had never read the novel. The novel is a true masterpiece, one of the books in our genre that can stand up to the finest works of 20th century literature. A truly tranformative work. I used some of Harris's tropes, including of course the dynamic between the heroine and the villain, but if I can even remotely touch the brilliance of his book then I am in very good company.
Why do you think you (and you're not the first to think this) used to look down on the crime genres? If you haven't already you should check out Patrick Anderson's book ((I interviewed him here about societal's gradual acceptance of the crime nor genre. Put another way, what will it take for programs like the one you used to belong to to believe that Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman and others are, as you say, worthy of praise and reading?
I looked down on the genre because I knew nothing about it. We disparage what we're unfamiliar with. I think there is a sense in many MFA programs that if something sells, if it has a wide appeal, then it somehow must be wrong. I've come to find that I love certain books and writers who do have this appeal, and with some of these people there is a reason why they became popular in the first place. As for the programs ever adopting crime writers, it's already happening in some programs — I read recently of a college that was giving an MFA in crime fiction. So it's slowly happening. But for the most part, books are labeled either "literary" or "other," and the two schools often swim in different streams. I wish it weren't so, but I think for the most part the writers who turn their nose up at genre fiction haven't read too much of it to begin with.