10 June, 2013

Fiction Friday: Reading outside your Comfort Zone

If you're like me, you tend to read books in the same genre as you write: I write cozy mysteries and that's my preferred reading material. And that's fine, but you're missing a lot of opportunities to learn from masters of the mystery genre art. Personally, I'm not into Stephen King, but I acknowledge his literary prowess.
In an effort to shake up my reading life, I joined a local mystery book club, aptly named The Usual Suspects. And, as a result, in the past two years I've read some wonderful mysteries and some which, IMHO, should never have been published, although others in the group enjoyed them.
The larger benefit has been exposure to the styles of a wide variety of amazing authors. With each book I've learned something about setting or characterization, about dialogue or red herrings, about hooks or point of view. Every mystery writer faces the same basic problems; it's all in how they approach them within the constraints of their genre.
As one of the great unpublished, I struggle with openings and closings(denouements to use the technical term). I’m always surprised when a well-know author opens with one of the "no-no's": prologue, dream, weather, backstory dump). I've also been impressed by the creative ways others have found to draw in their readers.
Here's our reading list for 2013:
  • 61 Hours / Lee Child
  • Flying Blind / Max Allan Collins
  • Murder on Astor Place / Victoria Thompson &/or Murphy’s Law / Rhys Bowen
  • Belshazzar’s Daughter / Barbara Nadel
  • Busman’s Honeymoon / Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The Attenbury Emeralds / Jill Paton Walsh
  • The Coroner’s Lunch / Colin Cotterill
  • Case Histories / Kate Atkinson
  • Tug of War / Barbara Cleverly
  • Mr. Churchill’s Secretary / Susan Elia Macneal
  • Black & White & Dead All Over / John Darnton
  • A Place of Execution / Val McDermid
  • Morse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories / Colin Dexter
And if you really want to go way out there, try something like Mary Buckham's Invisible Magic Book One: Alex Noziak (Invisible Recruits), an urban fantasy mystery-- a far cry from my world of culinary cozies!

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