People often ask what I’m reading. Who my favorite authors are, what topics I like to read about. Unequivocally, I love reading mysteries, because I love solving puzzles, unravelling riddles. My love of mysteries started young and hasn’t stopped. And I suspect that won’t change any time soon.
But that aside, I enjoy reading other works by a variety of authors. Experts say (and I agree), reading in quantity and breadth will improve your writing. Since I’m all for refining my skills, I read as much as I can.
The month of May opened with two cool celebrations, Children’s Book Week and Teacher Appreciation Week. Stories in the news and online made me think of my childhood reading habits and how they affected where I’m at today.
I don’t remember a time when books didn’t surround me. Thank goodness. My mom and dad read me so many wonderful stories: Francis the Bear, Curious George, Just So Stories. And my dad made up incredible tales of his own. He captivated my brothers and me with sagas of The Land of the Kingdom of The Land of the Kingdom of Wuff, fruit that fell upwards off trees, tse-tse bushes and elves. I remember we’d beg him every night to tell us more about his make-believe world.
First my parents and later my teachers helped grow my love of reading, learning, adventure. Sure, as a kid I had my moments, but then—and now—I put my nose in a book when I want to learn something new, experience a new location or solve the mysteries of someone’s life.
What began as a child’s obsession—I fell in love with the Nancy Drew mysteries (with a penname of Carolyn Keene, how could I not?)—continued as a young adult’s, then a grown woman’s. After I tore through those teen adventures, I moved on to Grandma’s Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen novels. Hooked from the start, it seems.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe reading is a substitute for living; it simply opens up worlds I might otherwise not experience first-hand. Reading is a door to new discoveries. In many instances, though, I learned how to do new things, then I went out and did them. Now in writing about those experiences, I can share my adventures and maybe encourage someone else to explore.
Take Emerald Obsession. Six years ago, I found myself in dire need of a relaxing vacation. I’d read about one of the Bahamian Out Islands, Eleuthera, and decided that would fit the bill. Did it ever! It remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. And its beauty, culture and vibe inspired me to write Emerald Obsession, which became my first published mystery novel. Talk about freakin’ cool.
I’m in the throes of writing Book 2 in the Found Mystery Series. I’m calling it TB for now. This, too, is partly set in the Caribbean, and all I can say is the more research I do, the more I’m jonesing to travel again. I can’t wait!
So, before I sign off and head back to the Turks and Caicos with TB, I’d like to leave you with two thoughts.
First, a couple of my favorite* reads: And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allan Poe. Everything written by Michael Crichton. Along Came a Spider, James Patterson. Ice Cold, Tess Gerritsen.
(*Hard to say “favorite,” because I have so damn many.)
Second, this weekend marks the celebration of Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer here in the States. For many folks, this translates into the first weekend to laze on the beach with a good book. However, Memorial Day is also a time to reflect on the lost lives of the service men and women who fought for our country’s freedom. Whatever your beliefs, men and women died fighting for us and our country, and I respect and am grateful for their service.
I wish you all happy and enjoyable weekends. And please consider sharing your favorite books and what you’re reading now in the comment section below. I always appreciate suggestions for new reads. : )