When I quit reading the other day, I was in the middle of the interview with Elizabeth Peters, which I have to admit was one of the sections I most wanted to read. Although I had read a good portion of the book years ago, nothing in the beginning of the interview seemed familiar this time around, so I'm pretty sure I had not read it.
After the disappointment I experienced with the Mary Higgins Clark interview, I was prepared for the worst on this one. I was most pleasantly surprised.
Peters, who in real life was Egyptologist Dr. Barbara Mertz, also wrote as Barbara Michaels, and while the Michaels books skew slightly more toward romantic suspense and/or gothic romance than true mystery, several of them do involve the puzzle of solving a contemporary murder (Vanish with the Rose, Into the Darkness) or a much older one (Ammie, Come Home; Be Buried in the Rain). Conversely, most of the Elizabeth Peters mysteries also featured very strong romantic elements. Regardless what Mertz may have considered herself, enough readers considered her enough of a romance writer that she received Romance Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.
I mention that because this interview in Deadly Women contains a couple of quotes from Ms. Peters that echoed my own sentiments and, perhaps, Dale Spender's as well regarding women's writing, and especially women's popular fiction writing.
Asked about the reception her not-quite-standard female characters got, part of her reply was ". . . and I am still slightly annoyed at being overlooked by feminist critics."
When asked about those characters' "endearing" qualities. Peters concludes her lengthy response with, "Of course the main thing about all three is that though they are ardent feminists, they all adore men. Especially certain men."
Interestingly enough, she also had a long commentary on the state of publishing, especially the pressure on writers to produce blockbusters, and on the burden placed on authors for promotion. And that was in the late 1990s. Gee, do you think it's changed any since then?