Friday, June 28, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Some people love to read about exotic new places, while some prefer
settings they recognize. How about you?
I thought a lot about this question (I usually think a lot about our very-thought provoking questions), and finally came to a realization.
I’m not a very adventurous soul, in real life or vicariously, so I guess it follows that I don’t care much about traveling to exotic places, physically or in my head. It’s no surprise, then, that I prefer reading about places I’ve been, where I can recognize landmarks or restaurants or neatly-kept neighborhoods. Where I can practically taste the local culinary specialties because I’ve tasted them before.
Okay, I’ll stipulate I’m boring.
(Of course, maybe here’s the spot in the blog post where I should also stipulate that I’m not much into settings, period. Give me some compelling characters in a high-stakes conflict, and you can put them in a closet, for all I care. Yeah, not much of a “settings” guy.)
Now, I’m not a total dweeb. There are many books I’ve loved set in unusual places, but these places are typically set apart by their physical characteristics, rather than their cultures. Think harsh, extreme environments. Like the bottom of the ocean (Sphere) or the jungle (Congo) or Antarctica (Freezing Point) or outer space (any of a hundred space operas). Those types of settings—where the characters must struggle against the elements to survive—are pretty awesome, in my totally unadventurous opinion.
BSP: Today and tomorrow, my horror/thriller THE TASTE, is FREE for Kindle. Download your copy today! What have you got to lose (except maybe your lunch)?
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Some people love to read about exotic new places, while some prefer settings they recognize. How about you?
|Not the ideal place to be reading Arthur Perez-Reverte|
|Reading in Uganda|
|Relaxing at home with a good Canadian book.|
Monday, June 24, 2013
by Meredith Cole
Yes. Both. I love reading a book set in an exotic place and experiencing (vicariously) the sights and sounds of somewhere new. It's (almost) like going on vacation there. I also enjoy reading books set in places I've visited or lived (at least most of the time). It's fun to know a little something so you can picture the corner or place exactly when the character does something in the story. The only problem I've encountered with reading books set in familiar settings is when the author is clearly unfamiliar with the place they're writing about, and starts to get confused or muff up their geography. I find this very distracting!
So--what am I reading now?
On a side note, I thought it was interesting how the cover was a bit similar to my second book, DEAD IN THE WATER. Maybe the same cover designer?
I'm looking forward to doing a lot of reading this summer (in exotic and familiar locales) and always looking for recommendations-- so please share with us what you're reading!
Friday, June 21, 2013
By Sue Ann Jaffarian
I have a confession: I seldom read cozies. You know, those light hearted, sweet mysteries spawned by Agatha Christie's legacy. It's not that I don't like them, and there are many excellent ones out there, but they are too much like my own mystery series and I'm afraid of my voice being tainted by another author's voice. And since I write a couple of books a year, I seldom have down time in which to squeeze in some of those books for fun.
I write humorous, light mysteries. My Ghost of Granny Apples mysteries are true cozies in that there is no sex or violence on the page. My Odelia Grey series is a bit edgier with some sex and violence and adult themes. In the mystery world, Odelia is usually labeled "soft boiled." Neither are graphic or hard hitting. It would be very easy for ideas and themes to leach into my spongy brain as I read similar work. It’s the same reason I never read ghost mysteries or vampire books. While I did read a few ghost novels prior to penning the Granny Apples series, they were very few and very different from the idea I had for my own series. I still have never read a vampire novel. Never. I am a virgin in that regard save for my own fang-based books.
Considering how few "cozies" I've actually read, it's a mystery to me that I manage to write them and write them well. But there you have it.
Also, in my personal reading I generally prefer harder mysteries and general fiction. And although I often read intense fiction, I despise gratuitous violence and sex. If I feel an author has slipped it in purely for shock or market value and not to move along the story, it can ruin the book for me. In my opinion, it’s a cheap shot. A hack habit. I don’t mind it if it’s a necessary part of character development and plot.
Another confession: I am always miffed when I’m buying a book or speaking to another author and they caution me saying, “You won’t like it. It’s hard and edgy.” This happens to me all the time and even as recently as a few weeks ago.
Well #*%@ the fiction police. (How’s that for a cozy answer?)
What gives you the freaking right to decide what I will like or not like based solely on what I write? Or what you think I write, because I doubt you’ve read my books based on your smug and condescending attitude.
Fellow authors, if you say something like that to me I guarantee I will not purchase and read your book, and not because I’m some senior delicate flower who writes lighter fiction.
Okay, rant over. We are now returned to our regularly scheduled program.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
1. Books similar to mine that I want to be able to say I didn't read and haven't stolen from even if we've both got retired burlesque dancers who fly the first air ambulances in Worcestershire and killed their twin brothers with a grapefruit spoon.
So that's Jacqueline Winspear and Rhys Bowen - the other two blonde Brits who live in northen California and write amateur detective stories set in the UK in the 1920s. And Carola Dunn (as above except it's Oregon) and Kerry Greenwood too. Which is a lot of great books to not read. Moof.
2. Books in the wider genre so breathtakingly, heartbreakingly fantabulous that I'd get a case of the why-bothers only Ben, Jerry and Sheldon Cooper could cure. This sees off Dennis Lehane, Ruth Rendell and Ann Cleeves. There are more but I need to stop now because even listing them is dispiriting.
3. Books by writers whose style is insidiously contagious (and who are too famous to hyperlink).
Raymond Chandler is just about the worst of these. I was reading him once while writing and decided that Dandy Gilver's tea frock could fit her like a mermaid's scales. Why not? (I caught it in the edit.)
Ernest Heningway isn't worth the risk either. Nick and the fish and the big two-hearted river? Hugh Gilver sometimes poddles off with his rods hoping to catch a salmon but it's not the same.
But pipping them both at the post (or poking them both smartly in the second waistcoat button, as he would say) is PG Wodehouse. Some of Wodehouse's lines make me laugh out loud no matter how many times I've heard them. When Bertie Wooster had a hangover and "a cat stamped into the room". Or when Mr Beach is displeased but says nothing and PW describes it thus - "ice formed on the butler's upper slopes". Genius. Or when . . . I think it's Bingo Little . . . sends a telegram that begins - "I say Bertie old boy stop yes Bertie stop I wonder old chap if I might have a word stop" The narrative goes on - "The telegram is not Bingo's natural form."
So part of the joy of getting that first draft done is to be able to read absolutely anything again. Mystic River or Right Ho, Jeeves. The world's my TBR pile.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I think Reece nailed this week's question in his post on Monday. (I suggest you check out his post, and while you're at it congratulate him on his new book deal!) Pretty much the only stuff I won't read while I'm writing is anything that plays in the same sandbox. For my Collector series, which straddles the line between old-fashioned noir and the creepier side of fantasy, that means waiting until between books to read Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series, Neil Gaiman's grown-up fiction, or anything by Stephen Blackmoore or Tim Powers, to name but a few. I also, for the record, had to quit watching Supernatural when they started getting all biblical on me. The last thing I wanted was to get called out for ripping off somebody who simply happened down a similar narrative path.
That said, there are a host of authors whose books I often pluck from the shelf when I need a literary shot in the arm to kick my writing into gear. Hammett, for his grit. Chandler, for his poetry. Block (particularly his Scudder novels), for his raw emotion. Westlake (writing as Stark), for his spare, pitch-black perfection. And of course Dante (with a little help in my edition from Messrs. Longfellow and Dore), for bringing hell to terrifying life in much the way I hope to for my poor, damned Sam.
Sometimes, I'll read 'em clean through while I write, but just as often, I'll simply grab one and read a passage or two at random before I sit down at the keyboard. I'd recommend you try it sometime with your great literary inspirations; you'll be surprised how much it serves to fuel your own creativity, and inform your day's writing. And heck, even if it doesn't, at least you got to read some pretty sentences.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Question - Whose work can you not read while reading your own?
Answer - Gillian Flynn.
Monday, June 17, 2013
By Reece Hirsch
The only books that I will not read while I’m writing are the books that I don’t trust myself not to steal from. By that, I mean books that deal with the same subculture, place or specific type of story that I’m writing. For example, about half of my current work-in-progress is set in another country. There are several mystery and crime writers who have placed their stories in that part of the world, and a few them are on my To Be Read list, but I must stay away until this book is done.
I’ve heard some writers say that they don’t like to read truly great writing while they’re working because it's too intimidating. I understand that point of view, but I don’t share it. There is something therapeutic about reading a solidly entertaining, craftsmanlike book where you think you understand the writer’s choices and how they could be improved upon. Sometimes you do learn more from a book’s flaws than from its strengths.
* Raymond Chandler's similes;
Friday, June 14, 2013
Despite some years devoted to imbibing various concoctions before bed so I could dream clever attributes about my characters and envision twisty plots, from hot toddy, whisky neat to Chamomile tea, the scenarios would not unfold across the landscape of my sub-conscious. But I now have a shiny new goal to dream about. This fall in San Antonio they’re opening the first bookless library as part of the state’s ongoing BiblioTech effort.
From the press release: “The $1.5 million facility in Bexar County will not house a single printed book, but will offer 100 e-readers on loan, and 10,000 digital titles accessible to readers via their home computers and digital devices, with more being added regularly.”
I dream then of flying to San Antonio, the plane partially flown on auto-pilot. The instructions having been texted to me on my iPhone, I call and summon my robot car like the ones Google has been experimenting with these last few years. The car arrives, a Cadillac CTS with a number by jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery bumping softly on the sound system. The driverless car whisks me off without incident to the bookless library.
Inside are people, real people, not cutouts or beamed in via closed circuit – though maybe a few are in “attendance” like that. We chat some. The librarian, who is also trained in keeping the machines running, introduces me.
I give my talk about my recent novel, an ebook exclusive, a decades spanning mystery of conspiracy and double dealing and masked vigilantes. There’s laughter in the right parts and a lively Q & A post the presentation. I see fingers moving across e-reader devices and I sing their e-reader cases. Later, checking my account on my IPhone, I see that there’s been a respectable up tick in my ebook sales.
I have a sip or two of whisky neat later in my hotel room, the doors of it zipping open and closed like they do in Star Trek’s Enterprise. As I drift off to sleep, soon I’m dreaming of building an android to take my dictation of stories. The robot will begin thinking like me as this process goes on. At some point, I’ll just have to give her, as I’ll have designed my personal simulacrum, to look like a combination of Beyoncé and JLo, she’ll be able to write like me, with me supplying the outlines.
In the dream I sleep too. When I wake, my mind has been transported into a Kindle. N this way I project my stories like someone standing behind a large frosted glass and writing the words backwards with a marker...my thoughts the words that appear onscreen to the reader.
I have eliminated the middleman. I am the machine of words.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Do you ever dream about your characters? Or other people’s?
To the best of my recollection, I have never dreamed about my characters. Nor about anyone else’s characters.
Some people like to analyze dreams, putting a lot of stock in what they mean. I’m not one of those people. I believe that dreams are simply a way for my subconscious to blow off a little steam (or a lot of steam, depending on the dream). I don’t think I’d make a very good subject for a psychology experiment.
That’s not to say that my nighttime slumbering isn’t ever productive. Sometimes I will cadge a bit of dialogue from a dream and try to work it into something I’m writing. Like Tracy described in her post yesterday, I’ll wake up, scribble a few ephemeral snatches of something witty or clever on a piece of paper on my nightstand. In the morning, I’m disappointed when it reads, “Mfxxth Strxtmet. WACHNRVPQ!”
Also, on occasion, I’ll get an idea in the middle of the night. When I was at Sleuthfest last year, I woke up one morning at 4 a.m. with a mostly-fully-formed concept for a thriller with a dynamite premise.
Maybe I should take a nap now. I could use another great idea!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
By Tracy Kiely