do men read crime fiction?

Happy Aniversary - Varsovia

I had an author event at Wester Hailes Library here in Edinburgh on Wednesday evening and for the first time EVER since I’ve been doing author events (two years now), the audience was all men. Incredible!  Usually there are only women in the audience, or mainly women.  Did I notice any difference between a male and a female audience? Not really, not at first anyway: the men listened attentively to what I had to say and asked lots of stimulating questions. Perhaps their questions tended to veer a tad more towards politics and historical facts, and perhaps they were less interested in my family history, but it was similar to all other events I’ve done until the end of the session when I began to talk about Food of Ghosts, my new crime thriller. Women audiences are usually very interested in the new novel. The men on Wednesday evening were not!  Wow! Of course it could simply be that these particular men were more into politics and history than crime fiction, but it started me thinking. In the past, when I’ve been to events to listen to fellow crime authors, there are always more women in the audience than men. So, my question is, do men read crime fiction or is it just women? What do you think?

And where were all the women from Wester Hailes Library? Well, earlier in the day Wester Hailes Library celebrated its 15th crystal anniversary. As part of the celebrations the  “knit and natter” group at the library, helped from knitting groups from around Edinburgh, including Granton and Newington,  presented soldiers from the Dreghorn-based 1 Scots Rear Operations Group with 200 hand-knitted hats for the troops in Afghanistan. The hats were a request from Parcels4Troops, a charity which sends gifts and home comforts to people serving in the Middle East. From what I understand the event left the ladies pretty pooped and with that and the very heavy rain, the ladies decided to call it a day and stayed at home, and who can blame them 🙂

Read the full “nit and natter” story here an see all the great pictures.

(anniversary photo with thanks Mentat Kibernes via Flickr)

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4 Responses to do men read crime fiction?

  1. Louisa says:

    Wow, very interesting! I wonder, like you, if the topic of history/politics/WWII is more compelling to many men than murdery mystery? Does a male writer like Ian Rankin also notice a gendre bias? Are most of his readers women? Interesting to find out… It is something to think about because as I work on my own novel, which is a murdery mystery and has mostly female characters, I wonder if any men will want to read it at all!

    • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

      Hi Louisa, I’m not sure if it just happened that those men were more interested in the history and politics of the time, or whether they represent all men. It is difficult to say. But, it is fact that there are always more women at the events I do and when I go to a crime event there always seem to be more women there. I think there are facts and figures, I will try and look them up, which suggests while more women read crime fiction than men, there are more successful male crime writers than women crime writers – not sure where that leaves 😉

  2. Mark says:

    Hi Marianne,

    Might it be that men are just less likely to attend author events and signings? I’ve only been to two, and both were at the Hay Festival. The first was to get an autographed copy of a Jacqueline Wilson book for my daughter, and the second to was to chat up the East Anglia Creative Writing MA group to find out how they got their slot. Both times I had an ulterior motive – I’ve never been to an author event just to meet the author. So what does this say about men? (In the background I hear my partner cry “That you’re a bunch of selfish bastards!”) Okay, but apart from that…?

    My guess is that the men you met were indeed a group of history and politics geeks. They probably have no interest in books which, on the face of it, aren’t going to add to their knowledge (though in the case of Food of Ghosts they are wrong). When you’re doing events for FoG, why not try a bit of audience research?

    • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

      Hi Mark, great to hear from you and thanks for saying nice things about Food of Ghosts 🙂
      Yes, it may well be that men are less likely to attend author events than women, though I don’t know what it says about men, if anything. But it was the crime fiction thing that intrigued me the most. Of course, the talk did overrun a bit as there were lots of questions – they really were a small but really interesting and friendly bunch of men – so maybe they simply wanted to get home. And they did have an interest in books, because they were well read and even bought bought copies of The Blue Suitcase, but they showed little interest in crime fiction. Hm?? Yes, I think I will start a little audience research.
      btw, do you usually read crime fiction?

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