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Saturday Guest Bloggers: 5/4 Marci Rendon, 5/11 Diane Bator
WWK Satuday Bloggers: 5/18 Gloria Alden, 5/25 Kait Carson
Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:
Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.
Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!
Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.
Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files
Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p
Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.
KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.
Warren Bull also has a story in Shhh...Murder! Look for "Elsinore Noir," Warren's short story, in this anthology.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Q & A Part I
In contemporary novels you’ve read (not the classics), are there any strong characters you particularly like, compelling you to read more? What method did the author chose to reveal the character?
EBD: One of my favorite characters to emerge in the last two years is a character named Chet, a dog. In Spencer Quinn’s Dog on It, Chet is the main character and narrator of the story. Using Chet as the narrator allows Quinn to explain Chet’s thinking. Quinn doesn’t humanize the dog too much, as much as many books do, and I think this is the key to Quinn’s successful character. Chet frustrates the reader. For example, it takes him time to make logical deductions and sometimes in a humorous way, such as when he is on the verge of making a connection of clues and is distracted by a Slim Jim. Quinn also shows Chet’s positive attributes too, such as his loyalty to his man Bernie, but dogs are loyal so that trait is concordant with a normal dog’s behavior. Making characters too perfect only stereotypes the character or makes them into a cliché.
JMJ: Some people are addicted to television series; I’m a book guy. The character doesn’t have to be realistic or larger-than-life. They need to have interesting problems. They need to have interesting friends. They can’t be stuck in a rut.
For example, I still enjoy Robert B. Parker books. He has several series and they overlap, but even though I’ve read plenty of them, each new one is like a box of popcorn: easy to go down in one quick sitting. After a few dates with Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum, I got tired of her and her friends. Same with JD Robb’s Eve Dallas and Rourke. I keep reading John Sandford’s Prey Series because Lucas Davenport remains interesting to me, and I’m probably going to stick with Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone through the letter Z.
JSR: I loved Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy (of trilogies). Perhaps because Fitz, the main character, didn’t always do or say the right thing. He made decisions that we, as readers, could see were mistakes but possibly the same mistakes we’d have made in his position.
Unlike Jim, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series didn’t grip me at all. I read ‘A is for Alibi’ and really couldn’t get into it. I don’t know if I read it coming off the back of a book I loved but I found it pretty forgettable. The story seemed a little dry to me.
PA: I’ve read most of Lisa Scottoline’s books that feature a female law firm in Philadelphia. The author is a lawyer and lived in Philadelphia. I think that gives the novels a sense of authenticity. I follow Michael Connelly’s Terry McCaleb and Harry Bosch because the characters strike me as complex human beings. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher fascinates me. I doubt whether I could live wandering from place to place with so few possessions but occasionally I feel a yearning for just such a life. I plan to follow Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone to Z.
I also follow the characters in NCIS, particularly Jethro and Ziva. I watch “Cold Case” and Waking the Dead” because the characters can’t rely on DNA and modern technology so they have to use deduction and interview other characters. Patrick Jane in “The Mentalist” fascinates me and I’m interested in the relationship between that character and Teresa Lisbon.
How do you choose novels to read?
JMJ: I have lots of favorite authors. I accept suggestions from people who know me, and my interests. If someone just says, “This is a great book, you should read it,” I usually thank them and go my own way.
I check the NY Times best sellers to see what’s selling. Many of the long-term NY Times best seller authors write quickly and poorly and I have scratched them off my reading list. But I continually find new authors who are good.
I also read the Edgar and Nebula nominees each year.
JSR: I have my favourite authors like most readers and if they have links to authors they like on their website then I’ll usually check them out.
Like Jim, if someone who doesn’t really know me recommends a book I’ll thank them and nod politely. Sometimes I’ll make a mental note to check it out but mostly I won’t. The exception to this rule is someone who makes a good argument for why I should read their recommendation and if their passion for the story shines through what they say (like my bus driver).
PA: I read Edgar and Agatha winners. I read the recommendations of friends, especially those in writing groups and Sisters in Crime. I check reviews in The Boston Globe and New York Times. When I’m ordering a book through online Barnes and Noble, I look at the section headed, people who bought the above book, also bought, etc. I listen to the local librarian and I take note of bestseller lists. If people I know through a writing group or because they are friends publish books, I usually read them.
EBD: I usually get a recommendation. If I like the author, then I read everything they write and try to use the library as much as possible because I read so much. On those occasions when I buy a book, I read the blurb on the jacket, but sometimes I am influenced by the cover. I recently bought a book titled Apologize Apologize, by Elizabeth Kelly, which had a dog on the cover. I thought that it had something to do with a dog as a character. No! There were dogs in the story, but the cover was purely symbolic.
What type of books do you read?
JSR: I go through phases where I’ll read anything and everything I can get my hands on to weeks where I’ll pick a genre and stick with it for a few months. It all depends upon how much spare time I have and where I am with my own writing.
EBD: I like variety, but I have to admit that genre reading and writing have affected my reading of literature. In mystery, we want to capture the reader in the first paragraph and start the plot immediately. Literary writing now seems aimless to me. In Apologize Apologize, a well written book that was a pleasure to read, I groped for a plotline. A third of the way through the book, I concluded it was a fictional biography, but that didn’t spur me to read more. Only the writing saved this book. There really wasn’t a plot and the ending, typical of literary fiction, was anticlimactic, in theory, designed as such so the reader takes what they will from the story, which is a cop out in my opinion. I have a tendency to spell out too much in my writing without letting the reader draw their own conclusions, but the lack of an ending in Apologize Apologize detracted from the “story.”
JMJ: My reading habits are very eclectic. In our personal library we have almost 900 books of fiction and 750 nonfiction books. I say that I seduced my partner, Jan, to the dark side of reading. She used to read lots and lots of “good” fiction until I introduced her to the best genre has to offer. Now she reads more genre than literary. I’ll occasionally dip my fingers into literary as long as there is a story. If it’s all navel gazing, I’m gone.
Although I tend to read more Mystery/Thriller than other genres, I dip into SF and Fantasy. My nonfiction reading has no bounds. Any topic can be interesting if the writing is good. Bad writing and any topic can be stultifying and I’m off to another book.
PA: I read mysteries and thrillers because I like puzzles and action, and protagonists who act as well as think. I also enjoy, because of the characters, books by Jodi Picoult, Toni Morrison, Anita Shreve, and Margaret Atwood. I don’t read romantic fiction. Until now, I haven’t read paranormal fiction but I’m going to try paranormal suspense and mystery.
Let us know how you answered these questions, and watch for Q & A Part II next week, when we'll have more riveting answers for you.