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February 15 – 21: “As a thriller writer, do you read or write in other genres?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5You write what you read, or so the old saying goes. This week ITW Members Michael E. Rose, Suzanne Redfearn, Paul McGoran, Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, Ken Newman, Magnolia Smith, Carol Goodman, Jodi McIsaac, Bernard Maestas, Bill Schweigart and Michael Byars Lewis discuss whether they, as thriller writers, read or write in other genres?

 

 

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River Road CoverCarol Goodman is the author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize, and, under the pseudonym Juliet Dark, The Demon Lover, which Booklist named a top ten science fiction/fantasy book for 2012. Her YA novel, Blythewood, was named a best young adult novel by the American Library Association. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches creative writing at The New School and SUNY New Paltz.

 

paying for Pain coverPaul McGoran lives and works in Newport, Rhode Island. His first novel was the noir thriller MADE FOR MURDER. He began writing crime fiction after a long career in marketing. His favorite thing about writing is disappearing into the mind and thoughts of his characters. He is convinced that writers like him have a form of multiple personality disorder–without the alarming clinical symptoms.

 

Say That to My Face by Bernard MaestasBernard Maestas lives in paradise. A police officer patrolling the mean streets of Hawaii, he has a background in contract security and military and civilian law enforcement. When not saving the world, one speeding ticket at a time, and not distracted by video games or the internet, he is usually hard at work on his next book.

 

 

northwoodsBill Schweigart revives a bit of forgotten lore from the shadow of Washington, D.C. in his last novel, THE BEAST OF BARCROFT, which finds a devilish creature stalking the residents of Arlington. Its sequel, NORTHWOODS, will be available February 16, 2016. Bill is a former Coast Guard officer who drew from his experiences at sea to write the taut nautical thriller, SLIPPING THE CABLE. Bill currently resides in Arlington, VA.

 

 

tell me no liesWith a father who was a former member of the Vietnam-era 82nd Airborne, a cousin who was a Green Beret in the eighties and nineties and a brother who is currently in law enforcement, is it any wonder that Magnolia grew up to marry a US Marine and write romantic suspense? Born and raised in North Carolina, Magnolia has always been an avid reader of detective and espionage stories of all types beginning as a child with Nancy Drew and continuing with Brad Thor and Vince Flynn. Magnolia is a member of International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.  She is represented by Holloway Literary.

 

forsaken front coverKen Newman is author of four novels, the latest being the paranormal thriller Forsaken, released by Black Opal Books. Due for publication in summer of 2016 is his upcoming supernatural, detective thriller Lost Souls, released by Evidence Press. When not writing, he enjoys sculpting, cheesy monster movies, and building the occasional trebuchet. A member of the International Thriller Writers Association, Ken lives in East Tennessee with his wife Christian and their three daughters.

 

mentorRita Carla Francesca Monticelli was born in Carbonia, Italy. She has lived in Cagliari since 1993, earning a degree in biology and working as a writer, researcher, scientific and literary translator, and freelance web copywriter. Monticelli has authored L’isola di Gaia (The Isle of Gaia), Affinità d’intenti (Kindred Intentions), Per caso (By Chance), and the science fiction series Deserto rosso (Red Desert), which is also available in English. The Mentor is her sixth book.

 

Interpol Confidential cover for ITWMichael E. Rose is a Canadian author and journalist. He is also the former Chief of Communications for Interpol at the agency’s global headquarters in Lyon, France. His usual genre is spy thrillers, with the Frank Delaney series winning new readers year after year. He has now written a satire about Interpol, a big departure for him from his thriller writing.

 

 

No Ordinary Life_coverSuzanne Redfearn lives in Laguna Beach, where she and her husband own a restaurant called Lumberyard. Her debut novel Hush Little Baby was a Target Recommends selection, and RT Book Reviews nominated it as Best Mainstream Fiction for 2013. Suzanne’s second novel No Ordinary Life was chosen as a Target Emerging Author selection and was chosen by RT Book Reviews as a Top Pick. Prior to becoming an author, Suzanne was an architect.

 

cure for madnessJodi McIsaac grew up in New Brunswick, Canada. After stints as a short-track speed skater, a speechwriter, and a fundraising and marketing executive in the nonprofit sector, she started a boutique copywriting agency and began writing novels in the wee hours of the morning. She loves running and whiskey and is an avowed geek girl. She lives with her husband and two feisty daughters in Calgary.

 

 

Veil-of-Deception-coverMichael Byars Lewis is a former AC-130U ‘Spooky’ Gunship Evaluator Pilot with 18 years in Air Force Special Operations Command. A 25-year Air Force pilot, he has flown special operations combat missions in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His first novel, SURLY BONDS, won three awards and his second novel, VEIL OF DECEPTION, will be released on April 19th.

 

 

Posted in: Thriller Roundtable

About the Author:

International Thriller Writers Inc represents professional authors from around the world. Learn more about them, their work, and the sources from which they draw their inspiration at the Official ITW Organization Website. Interested in becoming a member of the International Thriller Writers? ITW offers Active and Associate memberships.

32 Comments on "February 15 – 21: “As a thriller writer, do you read or write in other genres?”"

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  1. I’m very eclectic as a reader. I’ve been a reader for much longer than a writer, of course, and I ended up loving any book showing characters I could identify in, regardless of the genre. Later I realised I tend to invent stories with a structure that’s very typical of thrillers, with something to be discovered, suspense, mystery, murders, and so on, but it’s also true that the genre called “thriller”is quite a “transversal” one as it can touch different topics. I’m also a huge science fiction fan, in all its forms, not just written fiction (I love cinema & TV series), so the first original novel I wrote was a cyberpunk techno-thriller! From there I ventured into different shades of both genres: hard science fiction, crime thriller (The Mentor), action thriller, and space opera. I published nine books so far and all of them had what I like to call a “thriller soul”, which I think is strongly connected to my author voice and it may be one of the reasons why my older readers keep following me, even if I’m exploring different genres. In a nutshell, whatever the topic in which my characters move and show their stories to the reader, for some reason, those stories include mystery, suspense, and someone is killed. Anyway this is just one of the many nuances of my writing. In the end, “thriller” is just a label we use to help the readers understand what the story is about, but I think it’s very far to be a specific one.

  2. A good idea is a good idea regardless of genre. My published work, or my brand, is suspenseful women’s fiction, but I believe you need to grab hold of inspiration when it strikes, so I’ve written several other manuscripts outside that genre because I didn’t want to lose the mojo of the moment and have those stories disappear. Some day those works might make it into the world, but who knows? My pattern is to write a story in the box, then one out, then one in, etc. It is not the most efficient process, but it gives me the most fulfillment and stretches my writer muscles. I read anything that has good writing and a good story. If the narrative captures me and makes me think, it doesn’t matter what the genre.

  3. Michael Rose says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the notion that you write what you read. I’m working on the fourth volume in my Frank Delaney thriller series, and so I of course have read and continue to read a lot of thrillers. But my latest Book, Interpol Confidential, is a satire about my time at Interpol. That was big departure for me for me from my usual genre, so I read a lot of satire material when I was writing that one. The point is, don’t get bogged down reading just in one genre, whether it’s thrillers, satire, or anything else. A good writer needs to read widely, very, very widely, for all sorts of reasons.

    You need to have a sense of what’s out there, who’s writing what and what’s working well in your usual genre. But you need to be able to write in a variety of voices, styles and tones, even if you stick to your one usual genre. So read everything you can get your hands on. And, very, very important in my view, read what your characters might be reading.

    Your main character is a cop, detective, spy? Read all the police materials that you can get your hands on: police magazines, reports on police activities, feature stories about cops. Ditto for detective work. Read government reports about your country’s spy service. Read memoirs. Is your character a schemer. Maybe she’s reading Machiavelli. So read Machiavelli too. Or maybe The Art of War? Maybe your character likes Soldier of Fortune magazine. Read that, too. Imagine your way so fully into your character’s head that you can imagine what they might be reading, and go away and read that.

    Don’t forget that your minor characters read, too. Maybe they’re not intellectuals, maybe they read downmarket tabloid newspapers and the racing form only. So read those. Maye they read only the sports pages. Maybe they just like to look at electronics magazines, or music mags. Muscle mags, hot rod mags, travel mags: read everything. Keep up to date on what’s in other people’s lives and possible areas of interest, and get even further inside your character’s profile that way. The language in those publications, ones you yourself might never want to read, can yield ideas for angles, diversions, color, detail and texture in your writing. They can yield new tones of voice, new language to use.

    My main character in the thriller series once had his heart broken by a Jungian psychologist. I alluded to that psychological stuff in The Mazovia Legacy, so I had to read a lot about that. For The Burma Effect, I read as much as I could about Aung San Suu Kyi and the politics and main players in the Burmese junta. In the third one, The Tsunami File, I read everything I could get my hands on about the history of fingerprinting and forensic victim identification.

    Read way outside your comfort zone. You never know what you will find there, and how much this can help you understand your characters and your story better.

    • Well put and a very good point. Reading up on the things that you’re going to write about is pretty critical, especially in thrillers where accuracy can make or break you with readers. Research is a different animal from what we read for fun, though for sure. Limiting yourself to one genre is a great way to get stuck in a rut.

    • Jodi McIsaac says:

      Love love love this idea of reading what you think your characters would read; even the minor characters.

    • Paul McGoran says:

      Michael, your notion that “you need to be able to write in a variety of voices, styles and tones, even if you stick to your one usual genre” is one that I’m in complete agreement with. I think one of the most potent ways of achieving this is using the ‘third-person-limited’ point of view in narration, in which four or five main characters take the POV role, depending on which of them the author wants to emphasize in a given chapter or scene.

      While using alternating first person narrators is also possible, most readers seem to find it hard to follow (and the agents I’ve dealt with don’t like it).

      This isn’t meant to knock the traditional first person point of view in which the whole novel is told from one character’s perspective. The immediacy of that device can be very compelling, and the voices can be varied in dialog. But I do prefer telling my stories from more than one perspective.

    • Dave Edlund says:

      Magazines that are aimed at a hobby or special interest group are a fast and efficient way to come up to speed on a particular topic. It’s also fun, and can be entertaining (not so sure about reports on police activities, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that one).

  4. I love mystery. I think it’s the Ur-fiction. Someone dies; we wonder why. My first (published) novel (and the next six) was essentially a mystery, although it wasn’t stamped “mystery” or sold in the mystery section of the bookstore. But then a lot of fine mysteries aren’t. In my first six books a mysterious death was at the center of the action. But there were lots of other elements in these books—a little romance, some fairy tales and folklore, maybe even a whiff of the supernatural. Maybe that’s because I’ve always liked to read lots of different kinds of books—Gothic, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, long Victorian novels, noir, spy novels, cozy mysteries, thrillers, YA, and mainstream fiction—practically everything except for Westerns (does Lonesome Dove count?). It seemed natural to try writing in a different genre. After my sixth mystery (Arcadia Falls) I had the feeling that I might be falling into familiar patterns. I wanted to break out of those patterns. And because I’d always liked including references to fairy tales or mythology in my books, making the fairies and the mythological figures real didn’t seem like that big a stretch. Some of my readers were happy to follow me into the land of Faerie; others were not. But for me it was an opportunity to break out of old patterns and play with new ideas. When I came back to mystery with RIVER ROAD I felt refreshed—a little as if I’d been away in Faerie—and ready to find new ways to frame the old question: someone dies; we wonder why. I could feel when I was writing it that I wasn’t following any old paths, but rather discovering the characters as I embarked on the road, ready to encounter whatever might leap out.

    • Ken Newman says:

      I feel the same way. I love mysteries and whodunits, but it does get stale after a while. In my book Forsaken I add a few witches and angels to enhance the flavor of the mix. A ‘what if’ factor if you will. My upcoming book Lost Souls I introduce a private investigator with a love of all things noir investigates an adult model’s death. Adding a wee bit of the supernatural brought an entirely new dimension to the character as she faces threats far outside her comfort zone. Publisher liked it better as well and wanted a series. Change and experimentation is a good thing.

  5. As a matter of course, I read and write outside of the thriller (or romantic suspense) genre. If you looked at my reading list, at first glance you might be hard pressed to discern I wrote romantic suspense at all. For instance, the last authors I read were Charles Frazier, Sarah Addison Allen, Mary Robinette Kowal and Sarah Creech. Something of a North Carolina theme to be sure, but none of them are thriller writers. We know Frazier from Cold Mountain fame… and Allen is one of the queens of magic realism. My reading shelf is eclectic.

    However, I have read the entire works of authors like Clancy, Silva, Berry, Thor, Baldacci and Rapp – I love those guys but it was kind of a phase I went through as a reader, just couldn’t get enough of the genre! And I knew that I was absorbing technical information about weapons and procedures, etc. as I read – I knew that one day I’d write books in which I needed to know similar information

    I also write eclectic as well. To date, I’ve written a dark contemporary romance with time travel and a historical women’s fiction. TELL ME NO LIES is just the first novel of mine to be published. However, I do love the genre and have at least one more romantic suspense in the works.

    I find that I absolutely cannot read in the same genre as I’m writing. I will naturally search for the polar opposite of the genre. I do however read non-fiction and view documentaries related to international relations and foreign policy, since that informs my writing. There is definitely “romance” in my romantic suspense, but my suspense is definitely there, intelligent and though provoking – or at least I hope it is!

    I think that if you write in a particular genre, only reading in that category would be like living in a vacuum and your writing would eventually suffer for it.

  6. Thing is, I’m a horror writer. But as with most things, I’m usually the last to find out… When I signed with my literary agency after submitting The Beast of Barcroft, my agent introduced me on Twitter to her followers as “horror writer Bill Schweigart.” I read that and said, “Huh wha-?” I’d written a Coast Guard thriller before The Beast of Barcroft, so it never dawned on me that I would be labeled a “horror writer.” I just thought I was a writer who happened to pen a scary story. Now, Northwoods, the sequel, is being released on February 16, and guess what? It’s scary as hell. As is the third in the series, which I’m currently writing. So my agent was right: I’m a horror writer…but not exclusively. I have a historical noir tale I’m burning to write, and somewhere in my future, I even see a romance. I’m an omnivore when it comes to reading too: thrillers, mysteries, literary fiction, comic books, you name it. In fact, if you were to look at my reading consumption in one of those “balanced diet” pie charts, the smallest sliver would be horror.

  7. I rarely read thrillers these days and honestly, I thought I might be alone in this. A certain author has just turned me off of the entire genre so much. Nowadays, I draw most of my thriller inspiration from real life with the ghostly influences of my childhood watching action movies still there to pick up the slack. Somehow, though, I expected more thriller writers to read thrillers, perhaps even exclusively.

    Like the majority of us thriller writers, I have a real world resume to inform my thriller writing. Maybe we just don’t need to read other thrillers to keep motivated and interested in the genre?

    My roots as a reader are in comics, fantasy, and sci-fi. I believe the first prose novel I read by myself was “The Hobbit.” My mother convinced me to read it after I saw (and enjoyed) the old animated movie and, in doing so, she taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life: The movie, even when it’s excellent, is never a substitute for a good book.

    I’ve read most genres throughout my life. My mother (again) even got me into Robert Parker’s Spenser series toward the end of high school, which is probably when I added thrillers and mysteries to my reading. Today, I read a lot of young adult novels, which I’ve been doing for the past few years. And I’m still always down for a good sci-fi or fantasy novel. Of course, I will always love comics and manga, so I’ve gotta keep those in the mix. (I just reread “The Maxx,” by the way, which is an absolutely fantastic piece of literature that, if it wasn’t a comic, would probably be celebrated to this day.) For all of that, I haven’t had much success writing any of those genres (unless you count my “Internet Tough Guys” series sometimes being classified as young adult).

    When I started out writing “Internet Tough Guys,” I had no idea what kind of writer I would be or, really, into which genre the book would be lumped. Following it up, I wrote a prequel to the series, which fell squarely into the YA category, but it was never published. It has since been cannibalized to help make up my upcoming crime novel, “Concrete Smile.” I’ve been working on two YA fantasy novels (one urban) on and off (mostly off) for about a year and a half now. All of those are in addition to innumerable ideas for steampunk, fantasy, superhero, and just about every other genre of novel and graphic novel you can name which have never gotten off the ground. For some reason, thrillers come out faster and smoother when I sit down to write them. As I’ve espoused upon in my blog (and my fans should brace themselves to hear about it more with the release date on the horizon), I wrote “Concrete Smile” in a week. I’m a quarter of the way through the fourth “Internet Tough Guys” novel after only two weeks or so of actual work on it.

    I also think that if you read just one genre, you can only end up rehashing the same things. While you might not draw any direct inspiration from what you read, it helps to keep your mind open. As Masamune Shiro put it in “Ghost in the Shell,” “if you over-specialize, you breed in weakness. It’s a slow death.”

  8. Paul McGoran says:

    The common rubric for novels and stories I read and write is ‘psychological fiction.’ I like to get inside the heads of the main characters—as deep inside as possible. In my late teens, I gravitated to writers like Dostoevsky, Kafka, Henry James, and William Faulkner. During a long business career, I fancied myself a frustrated writer of literary fiction. Whenever I attempted a novel or short story, however, I failed. Couldn’t find the time to do it justice, or so I thought.

    The reality was that I had no talent for the kind of amorphous New Yorker story I felt compelled to write. I was frustrated because my stuff was boring. This isn’t a knock on literary fiction (well, maybe a little), just a realization that I can’t abide a story that meanders without a point or creates a conflict with no conclusion. I can neither write a story like that, nor can I read one with any degree of satisfaction.

    In the 1990s, I began to read crime fiction, thinking of it as an extension of my long time affection for film noir. Before long, I felt at home. This wasn’t just light entertainment, it was a whole province of literature with just as much potential to illuminate the human condition as mainstream fiction. Thinking back to the classics I admired, I concluded that a crime of some sort, whether a moral failure or an overtly antisocial act, was at the heart of each story—and the cause of the conflict that animated the characters.

    MADE FOR MURDER, my first novel, fit into the suspense thriller category, noir division. My current effort, PAYING FOR PAIN, is a collection of short noir fiction. And THE BREASTPLATE OF FAITH AND LOVE, a novel now under contract to New Pulp Press, is part mystery and part psychological thriller.

    As a writer, I’m solidly in the crime fiction camp for the foreseeable future. As a reader, though, I’m all over the place—history, biography, mainstream fiction, mystery/suspense—with a strong compulsion for delving deep inside the human mind.

    • Michael Rose says:

      I’m like you, Paul. I think psychology is key. I read as much as I can on psychological topics. Writers need, as you say, to get inside the heads of their characters. That, in fact, is not a new notion; all writers have to do that to a certain extent. But the more you try to understand about psychology, the more sophisticated your characterization can become. In The Mazovia Legacy, I tried out the device of adding details of what dreams two my my characters were having at night, as the plot developed. That helped me move things along in a new way: I could let readers see a bit more about what the characters were concerned about or where they were headed, even though in psychological terms they may still have been “unconscious” of some of these things.

      • Paul McGoran says:

        Yes, Michael, dreams are a wonderful way of clarifying what’s happening in a character’s interior life. For my novel The Breastplate of Faith and Love, I researched the symptoms of sociopathology in the preadolescent so I could accurately portray a pair of half-brothers raised in separate households, one of whom needed psychiatric care. The dreams of these children feature prominently in the novel. If I hadn’t read clinical monographs on the subject, I would have come at the task superficially–and I would have certainly botched it.

  9. Jodi McIsaac says:

    Let me be clear: I’ve quite possibly made a horrible mistake. But so far in my very short writing career I’ve written in three separate genres. My Thin Veil series is contemporary fantasy, A Cure for Madness is a medical thriller, and I’m currently writing a historical series, the first of which is out in September.

    I get a lot of questions from friends and fellow writers about why I don’t stick with one genre, and the answer is simple: I have a short attention span. The fact is, I didn’t set out to be purely a writer of fantasy—that was just the first idea that grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go. But the time I finished the Thin Veil series, I was ready for something new. Medical thriller? Why not?

    Of course, the business side of me can’t help but wonder if I’m shooting myself in the foot. I think (hope?) there will be an overlap in readership between my Thin Veil series and my forthcoming Revolutionary series, even though one is fantasy and the other is historical, because both are set in Ireland. But so far I have noticed very little crossover between my fantasy readers and those of my medical thriller. Which is to be expected, sure…but is writing in different genres splitting one’s readership, or diversifying it? I’m an optimist, so I’ll choose to look at it as the latter. But even if it’s not the most savvy career move, I still wouldn’t do it any differently. I write whatever story I can’t stop obsessing about, genre be damned.

    As for the question of reading widely, I think this is essential for a writer. The wider one reads, the deeper one’s understanding of the world and its inhabitants – and the deeper one’s fictional world and inhabitants become as a result. Many, many years ago, someone advised me to read everything: bodice rippers one day, and a biography of Pope Pius XII the next. While I admit I still haven’t gotten around to that particular biography, the advice has stood me in good stead.

    • I have the same problem with a short attention span. Writing for me is a way of living different lives and sticking on a single genre would just be boring to me.

      Moreover, I must say that changing genre or subgenres helps me avoid to repeat myself. 😉

      • I have to agree as well. People who know me wonder at all of my writing interests. I think the general consensus from readers is that writers are a one-trick pony… And it would probably be so much easier, if we were! But as a writer, I have just as many interests as I do as a reader and it’s hard to settle on just one genre.

        But it’s also more fun that way! And your fans will hopefully follow you from genres – because even though you change genres, there is usually still similarities in your themes or writing style, etc that tie your entire body of work together – at least for me that is true. Perhaps its too ambitious a thought, but I think my readers can go from romantic suspense, to mystery to historical fiction and still be satisfied. But only time will tell.

        Thoughts?

        • I think it’s also a good way to expand your readership. When I published my first thriller, I was coming from science fiction, but some old readers followed me. At the same time new readers who read my thriller became curious about my science fiction books, even if it wasn’t a genre they used to read.
          All that was due to the fact that they liked my author’s voice, which doesn’t change with the genre.

  10. Michael Rose says:

    Well, this topic is certainly generating a lot of energy. Great discussion so far. We’re getting to the heart of the matter, yes? Reading, then writing; writing, then reading. That’s the cycle we are all in. So standing back for a moment to think more clearly about these processes,and exchange ideas with like-minded writers, is a great opportunity.

  11. Michael Rose says:

    I can’t take part in a discussion about how you are what you read without mentioning “bibliotherapy”. That is, the growing body of thought about books and reading actually making people better, more insightful, more empathetic, more “human”. Good attributes for a writer….
    Here’s Ceridwen Dovey in The New Yorker edition of June 9, 2015
    “For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others, but exactly why and how is now becoming clearer, thanks to new research on reading’s effects on the brain. Since the discovery, in the mid-nineties, of “mirror neurons”—neurons that fire in our brains both when we perform an action ourselves and when we see an action performed by someone else—the neuroscience of empathy has become clearer. A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, based on analysis of fMRI brain scans of participants, showed that, when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves. We draw on the same brain networks when we’re reading stories and when we’re trying to guess at another person’s feelings.
    Other studies published in 2006 and 2009 showed something similar—that people who read a lot of fiction tend to be better at empathizing with others (even after the researchers had accounted for the potential bias that people with greater empathetic tendencies may prefer to read novels). And, in 2013, an influential study published in Science found that reading literary fiction (rather than popular fiction or literary nonfiction) improved participants’ results on tests that measured social perception and empathy, which are crucial to “theory of mind”: the ability to guess with accuracy what another human being might be thinking or feeling, a skill humans only start to develop around the age of four.”

  12. Michael Rose says:

    Nice, idea, Suzanne. I like the idea of book doctors prescribing specific books for specific psychological ailments. Feeling depressed? “Read two of these, and call me in the morning.” Marriage on the rocks? “Read this and that, add a little poetry, and see how you go.

    • I love it, probably more effective than years on the couch, popping Prozac, and dwelling on the past. Escape into a book, discover the problems of others and how they deal with them, and draw strength and wisdom from it. I think you’re onto something here. You should write a book about it : ).

  13. I do put much attention on what I decide to read in the same period in which I’m writing a new book, but genre isn’t something that I consider.
    Location and mood are more important to me. When I write, I need to connect with my characters, feel like they feel, so having the chance to experience more stories in the same locations or sharing the same moods helps me identify myself with them.

    Another important factor is point of view and style. I always write in limited deep point of view (whether it is first or third person) and I try to create a very strong emotional connection between the reader and the character, so when choosing a book to read during a writing period, I look for stories with the same strong connection.

    Genre isn’t a factor in this choice at all.

  14. Michael Byars Lewis says:

    Late to the dance, sorry! Just flew back into the country and boy are my . . . Uh, never mind. Like everyone else, I think reading outside your genre is important and beneficial. We probably all read a variety of genres before we became writers, until we focused in on our niche. We then read ‘inside’ our genre to fine tune the direction we want to go when we write. Sounds as if I’m like everybody else here (or they’re like me, you decide), reading outside our genre gives us depth and breadth.

  15. Ken Newman says:

    Sorry guys for the delay entry. The computer gods have had mercy on me and let me in!
    I agree that a writer has to be an omnivore when it comes to reading and genre shouldn’t matter. In fact it should enhance your writing style immensely. The old adage, you can’t be a writer without being a reader as well is very true.

  16. Michael Rose says:

    Remember this also:

    “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
    P.J. O’Rourke

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