A Gay Day For The Black Market
"It simply doesn't bear scrutiny", opines multi-award-winning ethnic minorities commentator and Black Wives Matter champion, Ekwalo Portu-Niti as she peruses last year's Threadbone Crimeshelf Classics Catalogue before dismissively hurling it across the room. I have come to the fearless and fearsome lady's office to talk about the current state of Dorset Crime Fiction and what she sees as the scandalous under-representation of LGBTQ+ characters amongst its more than 150 titles. It isn't long before the three times DSPMRML* Critic of the Year Award winner turns to specifics.
*Dorset Society for the Promotion of Minority Role Models in Literature
"If you look at the work of their male authors - Doug Graves [Inspector Allardyce], Gordon Tanqueray [D I Stiller], E S Collater [Locke D Roome] etc - their detectives are all stereotypical alcohol-sodden white alpha-males with a frankly appalling attitude to women. Perhaps worse, the Threadbone Press's roster of women authors - Polly Anthus [Tessa Lonika], Eleanor Beechwood [Maisy Darling], Agatha Panthus [Wendell Chance], Crola Haress [The Group Captain] etc - all serve up either privileged and well-educated society girls or in the case of Ms Panthus and Ms Haress, First or Second World War heroes straight out of the school of John Buchan. Even the gender-fluid representatives - who you would think would know a whole lot better - Emma Roid [real name Mr Ahmed Aziz] [Adam Carrington] and Quintus Remus [real name Effigies Denudator] [Vinicius Pusilli], seem to find merit in writing about testosterone-fuelled semi-animated caricatures in the hope, perhaps, that a little local or historical colour will disguise the conventional prejudices of their frankly abject role models. Look through their pages in vain, you won't find a single [or even married [Ed]] gay or ethnic minority character anywhere - even amongst the victims - which is obviously a travesty given the pattern of real-world crime."
Ms Portu-Niti can - and does - go on. After an hour I leave; exhausted, but with a niggling suspicion that she may be on to something.
Is it coincidence, I wonder, as I pass a poster advertising the latest Threadbone Crime Shelf releases, that the publisher has just launched a brand new series - Threadbone Diversity Rainbow Noir - to celebrate the work of crime authors "outside the mainstream" whose characters are drawn from "minority ethnic, gender-fluid, physically or mentally-challenged, otherwise socially stigmatised or currently diversity-commentator-preferred" sections of the population. [Is this rhetorical? If not, the answer is: probably not [Ed].]
Never slow to miss an opportunity, the not-so-sure-footed publisher has also spotted this gap in the market and it now seems anxious to plug it as soon as possible. Drilling down into the details, it is clear that Threadbone Diversity Rainbow Noir will initially offer readers two well-focused sub-genres: Gay Crime Classics and Ethnic Crime Classics with a third Affirmative Action Crime Classics to follow in time for Christmas, Hanukka etc. In order to "get to market" quickly, they have quarried a number of previously rejected and/or long forgotten manuscripts gathering dust in their extensive "Not for Us" basement locker. First amongst them is Hashiel Dammit's Politically Corrected and appropriately re-titled Black Wives Also Matter together with Eaymond Bengt Handler’s LA-based Goodby Sweet Regret.
Looking ahead for that "pot of gold", the Threadbone Press hopes, I am told, to persuade visually-challenged transgender Afro-Caribbean former Paralympian - Tickallderwright Bockses - to pick up a pen [metaphorically speaking] and "deliver the big one" in time for the 2022 Diversity-in-Dorset-themed Primavera Festival. [Good luck with that one [Ed].]
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