Friday, June 1, 2012

The Dark Side of Love

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.

Weird, huh?

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 Kills.”)

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.

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