The Good and the Bad

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading, not only a vast number of books, but also a wide diversity of genres. I was that nerdy girl in high school who always, and unapologetically, carried around a book. With kindles and smart phones, it means I have access to hundreds of books at all times. I mean, seriously, you never know when you might be able to snatch five minutes to read, amiright?

James HerriotAt times in my life—and often simultaneously—I’ve read memoirs like James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small about his life as a country vet in Great Britain. (SO good!)  I was a huge science fiction/fantasy geek and devoured series like Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series and all its offshoots. Cozy mystery writers like Sharyn McCrumb or Margaret Maron. Funny mysteries like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (Three to Get Deadly made me laugh so hard, I had to put it down for a few minutes while the tears cleared.) Gritty thrillers by Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson. Gothic romances by Mary Stewart or Victoria Holt or Jane Aiken Hodge. Family sagas by Rosamund Pilcher or John Jakes (North and South was my jam for a while there—especially when the mini-series came out. Orry Main!). Historical fiction like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan or The Other Boleyn Girl. Women’s fiction by Jennifer Weiner or Jill Mansell or Kate Morton.  Young Adult books like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants or Suzanne Collins’s lesser-known, but fabulous series, Gregor the Overlander. “Serious” fiction like Louise Erdrich’s The Round House or Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.Poisonwood

A rose in winter I inhaled adolescent/soapy romances like the Sweet Valley High series (Oh, Jessica Wakefield, you saucy minx!). I mixed in some Sweet Vally High category Harlequins in late middle school and progressed to full-on historical romances by Judith McNaught and Kathleen Woodiwiss in high school.

(I recommend all these books and authors, by the way—if only for nostalgia:)

First off, let me say I never felt a strong compulsion to write until recently. I spent thirty odd years thoroughly enjoying other people’s worlds. I never doodled story ideas or kept a journal. Never wrote fan-fiction. I was *grabby hands* for the next book to read…and the next… I was every author’s wet dream—a super-reader.

Still, none of these fabulous books or authors inspired me to create my own worlds. Instead, it was a bad book that spurred me to write. Not terribly written, but soooooo borrrriiinnnnng. After skimming the last hundred pages of the snooze-fest, I put it down and thought, I can do better than that. The “more exciting” book I sat down to write less than a month later became An Indecent Invitation. Readers have to be the judge of whether or not I succeeded.

To be honest, if I had held all my favorite books/authors up as standards, I’m not sure I would have ever been brave enough to start writing. So tonight, I’ll raise a glass to that bad, boring book for sending me on the journey of a lifetime—and hope one of my books *doesn’t* inspire someone else in a similar fashion!

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