When you become an author, it gets a lot harder to read. You live with a constant ache of hunger for what you’re trying to create: words that can take the mind away from everyday routine. Those words become more difficult to find.
Part of the reason is that once you’ve had your work edited, you start to see the errors in other people’s books. This is not limited in any way to works published by independent publishers or those that are self-published. In fact, as the world of publishing settles down from the great upheaval caused by opened channels, I read just as many books with blatant errors and bad editing published by the Great Traditionals as independents. I’ve given up on a few of my favorite authors (John Irving comes to mind) who are published by the established houses because I couldn’t take the lack of editing or copyediting. I haven’t been in book publishing long enough to know why this has happened. In some cases, including Mr. Irving’s, I think the author’s britches got so big, they decided not to let anyone push them around. In other cases, I think budgets have got in the way of traditional good editing, which means the Great Traditionals have become nothing more than the Big Guys.
The other reason my hunger for losing myself in a book is harder to abate, however, is story line. I am tired of formula writing and, believe it or not, I think readers are, too. It’s why I can get into certain well- written series, but only go three or four books before I get bored. The same story told twenty times is not what I seek. Some authors certainly are successful at multiples, and I think that’s because the writer can make you fall in love with the recurring characters while also finding a way to shock you with the crimes or mystery or story line (Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb comes to mind. I can always read one of those books because I love the strong woman hero. The crimes give me the creeps. But they keep me reading because I want my hero to defeat the villain). The lack of fresh story also is one of the reasons I stopped reading pure romance a while ago. I just got sick of: lonely woman finds man, they fall in love, they get separated or pissed at each other and then they get back together
So when it comes to reading these days, I just look for something that makes me lose myself in the story. We all need this. For me, that means I’m not stumbling over bad editing. It also means the story moves along nicely; I care about the characters. I have tended towards mystery and some mystery/romance the last few years. But I’ve always loved sci fi or fantasy as well. So my thanks this week to C.J. Brightley. I read the first of her Erdeman series: The King’s Sword. And it delighted me. Because I was cheering for the character, understanding his weaknesses and rooting for a new king in a kingdom that doesn’t exist except in a good writer’s mind.–Genilee Swope Parente