Literary fiction authors are boring intellectuals with no imagination.

Ha! That got your attention, didn’t it?

Before I get slammed by literary fiction authors, please understand that I don’t actually mean that. I have read literary fiction I LOVE. I’ve also read some that I  hate. It happens, just like it does with genre—even (and possibly especially) romance, my own preferred genre.

The difference between literary authors and genre authors is that too often genre authors will just sit back and take abuse about our chosen style of writing. “It’s simple and easy,” says the literary author. A horror author replies **crickets** and gruesomely kills the literary author off in his next book. “It’s all about sex, sex, sex,” says the literary author. The romance author replies, “What? You don’t like sex? Of course it’s about sex.” But it’s not. “I can’t imagine reading anything genre,” says the literary author. “What the hell’s the matter with you, then?” says Me.

Seriously, I’m sick of it. As a librarian, I encourage reading. Period. Read what you want to read, but JUST READ. Our society as a whole is becoming less informed, less literate—and less tolerant of those with other viewpoints. A really great way to expose yourself to other viewpoints is reading. Here’s a beginner’s list of ten novels from various genres you should read now. Like, go to Amazon and download them to your Kindle because if you haven’t read them, you’re missing out.

  1. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  2. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  3. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
  4. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
  5. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  6. The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
  7. The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
  8. Swan Song by Robert McCammon
  9. Dune by Frank Herbert
  10. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

You’ll notice there are all different reading levels, genre and literary fiction included. My point with this post is that if you’re reading, you’re doing a great thing for yourself and for the world. And if you’re a writer, read what you want to read, write what you want to write and stop giving other writers a hard time. And if you’re a genre writer, STOP turning the other cheek. What you write is not less because of the genre. Only the quality of the writing can make it that.

Immersing Myself in the Culture of My Creations

I’ve just finished up a new rough draft, and while I’m very happy about it, I’m also a little melancholy. You know that feeling you get when you finish reading a book and even though it finished well, you wish there was more? I’ve felt that way about a lot of books, most of which still inhabit my bookshelf somewhere. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang (of course eventually there was more to this one!), Jane Austen’s Emma. The characters and stories of these books became like family to me while reading them, and I found it hard to let them go. That happens to me when I finish writing a story, too.

I think it’s partly because I immerse myself in the lives of my characters. For instance, this most recent book takes place on a scuppernong vineyard in Eastern North Carolina. Of course, I live in Eastern North Carolina, so that’s not much of a stretch. Plus, as part of my “research”, I’ve been drinking the wonderful scuppernong wines my state can boast of. However, to add a little complexity to my plot, I made the heroine part Greek. Of course, this precipitated a lot of reading about the Greek culture, Greek wines, Greek men (yes, that was necessary research!) and Greek cooking (lots of olives). I’ve always been fascinated by Greece, and now I’m totally in love with it. I even learned how to make pastichio, and even my kids enjoyed that!


So what’s next? I’m definitely going to miss my Greek research. I can’t imagine what could top pastichio, olives, and wine, but who knows where my next story will take me?