Admittedly, I’m a bit of an anomaly. Of course, we all are, so I guess there’s nothing too earth-shattering about that confession.
But back to the anomaly thing.
For example, I like onion rings, but I don’t like onions. I would never eat
them in soup, for example. Definitely not raw. I like my eggs scrambled,
poached, fried, sunny side up or even baked, but if you put a hard-boiled one
in front of me, I would vomit.
I’ve noticed my TV/book reading
habits follow these same wacky patterns. I grew up watching soap operas, but I
don’t like reading romance novels. I love me some “Law and Order,” all entries
in the franchise, but especially “Criminal Intent.” “Without a Trace” and “Cold
Case” are also good. Yet, I don’t read police procedurals or detective novels.
The best writing advice I’ve ever
gotten is to write what you like to read. I like to read a lot of different
things, mostly fiction, and most of it pretty eclectic. One week I might be
re-reading “Catcher in the Rye,” or “Madame Bovary,”and the next “She’s Come
Undone” by Wally Lamb, “Strange Fits of Passion,” by Anita Shreve or “High
Fidelity,” by Nick Hornby.
Like I said, eclectic.
I also really like suspense. Two
authors whose books I really enjoy are Mary Higgins Clark and Joy Fielding. I
read Clark’s “The Cradle Will Fall” when I was 14 and got hooked, running to
the library every few days to check out her entire backlist. The way Clark
turns the ordinary into the horrifying and draws out tension to its tautest
breaking point means you can’t turn the pages fast enough. “See Jane Run,” by
Joy Fielding was outstanding. How terrific is this opening line? (“One
afternoon in late Spring, Jane Whittaker went to the store for some milk and
eggs and forgot who she was.”). She’s begging you to read more. “Whispers and
Lies” and “Grand Avenue” were also books that kept me up and night and stayed
with me long after I turned the last page.
When I thought about it, the
themes and ideas that intrigue me the most and are the ones I want to explore
in my writing, is the dark side of love. In other words, how this complex
emotion drives us to commit heinous acts (think “Snapped” and “Scorned: Love
The first manuscript I wrote
details a woman being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. The second one involves a
woman who kills her husband after discovering he’s having an affair. The one
I’m working on now and hope to release to Kindle later this year, is about a
woman searching for clues in her sister’s mysterious death. The next one I plan
to start writing is about a group of four friends where one of the women is
killed and one of the other three women did it. I have a whole list of ideas
for future novels that don’t have anything to do with hard-assed cops, jaded
PI’s or tales of romantic suspense.
Not writing something in the
“popular” or “bestselling” genres of romantic suspense, procedurals and the
like, could either bite me in the ass or work in my favor. On the one hand,
there’s a reason these types of books sell so well – because readers like
reading them. On the other hand, writing about something completely different
could make me stand out in an incredibly crowded and competitive industry.
I guess time will tell which way
the pendulum swings.