Illusion and Reality

DSC_1623 (2)I saw an interesting question posted on a social media site: How many writers write in the same genre as they read? I took a moment to consider that – at first, my answer was “no”, I don’t normally write in the same category, but when I took a second look, I found the answer was not as simple as all that.

One my favourite genres to read is historical fiction and non-fiction – more specifically the history of Tudor England. I have a whole shelf dedicated to King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and all his wives, Mary Tudor and of course Elizabeth. I also have books on the Queens’ of England prior to the Tudor reign. I find Tudor England fascinating in all its horrific glory. There are more villains, heroes, femme fatales’ intrigue and mystery than in most fiction I have read. I love to escape to that tumultuous time during my break from writing.

I indulge in this historical world and yet, I write in the present. I blog about my life with RA, write guest posts for other sites and contribute to health articles. In writing about chronic illness, I always try to find the silver lining. My poetry bounces between shadow and light. In my fiction, I lean towards the dark and sinister side of human nature. I am attracted to characters I love to hate. I never connected my style of writing to history, but after some thought I realized that I tend to write about some of the same aspects – the survivors of Tudor England were untouchable in their exhibition of the darkness of human nature.

I suppose in answer to the question, “do I write in the same genre as I read”, I’d have to say both “yes and no”. I am influenced by some features as the things I read today, although, it doesn’t always fit into the same genre. And of course, I can’t overlook my younger years when I was drawn to the alluring stories of Stephen King – his influence lives on in some of the crime noir and supernatural thrillers I have produced. I think all writers absorb bits and pieces of the things they read and unconsciously adapt them to their own style – and that’s what makes writing a distinctive and fascinating occupation.DSC_1626

A Lesson in Writing Book Reviews

DSC_0982 (3)I was asked by a fellow writer if I would review her new novel. I was thrilled to be one of the few invited to preview her new book. There was just one problem – I had never written a book review before.

I was faced with this issue last summer when I offered to write a review of my friend’s play. I thought it would be good for me to step outside my comfort zone and attempt to write in a new genre. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I did it and was told by a reader from the other side of the world that she was ready to rush out and buy tickets. I had taken on a new challenge and conquered it with flying colors. And now, I was about to throw myself into the unknown once again.

Writing about a play is a lot different then writing about a book. A play is usually no longer than two hours and right after the show, you need to go home and write the review immediately – it’s easy to write about something that is so fresh in your mind. Writing a review for a book is an entirely different task. You need to set aside time to read, and you need to read it at least twice – once for first impressions and to get the flavour of the story, and a second time to find the flaws and inconsistencies. You can actually read it as many times as you need, but like reviewing a play, there is a deadline looming. I had agreed to read this book and write a review at a time when I had my own hands full of deadlines and submissions. My attention was torn between reading her book and getting my own work done. In the last 48 hours before her novel was to go live, I buckled down and finished her book and got my review online just under the wire. I enjoyed writing my review, but I have learned before I agree to review someone’s novel again, I am going to make sure I have the time and attention to give it.

Here is my review of Sharon Gibbs novel Bound to Survive. This book is sure to delight for fantasy lovers around the world.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1186390494?book_show_action=false