Thursday, October 13, 2011

Surprise, Surprise

By Kelli Stanley

It's a tough topic this week. First, because it's difficult for me time-wise to read anything other than research materials and novels to blurb, and secondly, because I don't dare read fiction when I'm working on a book (I'm afraid it will influence me, and when you're in the business of world-building, you don't want to get sucked in to another world).

See how boring being a writer can be?

How to compensate for this stultifying ennui? Well, here's what I'll do. First, I'll throw in a video, in honor of my buddy Shane Gericke, one of the original Criminal Minds. This one's for you, Shane, ol' buddy!

Next, I'll name five books that surprised me. Granted, I didn't read these this year so they're not exactly recent, but hey--they're books. That I read. And that surprised me.

5. Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand. I'm not politically aligned with Ayn Rand. However, I read this gargantuan political tome/thriller in high school, and it shocked the hell out of me because it was well-written. Whatever else she did or believed, Ms. Rand could write. And English was a second language.

4. The Lost Museum. Hector Feliciano. This is actually a recent read for the next Miranda book. I discovered some interesting facts about art dealers during the Nazi era, in both France and Switzerland, that surprised and disappointed me.

3. Organized Anti-Semitism in America. Donald S. Strong. (Yeah, I know, I know ... I have such a cheery reading list. This was research for CITY OF SECRETS, and the surprises I encountered worked their way into the book).

2. Murder on the Orient Express. Agatha Christie. I read it when I was about eleven years old and I still remember how shocked I was. A masterpiece of pulling the reader along!

1. Farewell, My Lovely. Raymond Chandler. The most wonderful surprise of all. My first Chandler experience. Unbelievably lyrical, tough and tender, Romantic and hardboiled. I've never recovered.

Honorable mention must be mentioned. Short stories are renowned for their twists, but when I was about ten years old, I remember reading Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". It was like a rite of passage into a world far less innocent, and word-for-word, one of the most brilliant things ever written by anyone.

So there you go. I stretched the question and played a video. And I thank you for reading, and for cutting an over-extended writer a little slack on her reading assignments! Please chime in with any treasured surprises from your reading list, past or present. I'll be on the road next week as part of the CITY OF SECRETS book tour, and hope to see any regular Criminal Minds readers at stops in Scottsdale or Los Angeles!


Vicki Delany said...

Have a great time on your book tour! I'm sorry I'm too far away to come out and see you.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Interesting list, Kelli. I read "The Lottery" when I was in jr. high and it has stayed with me since. Absolutely haunting.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Vicki!! My dream is to take two months off and cover the US and parts of Canada while touring (road trip!), but alas--can't afford it.

Hope to see you at LCC!! :)


Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks for dropping by, Sue Ann!! "The Lottery" profoundly changed my view of society, even if I didn't realize it at the time. "Lord of the Flies" owes everything to Shirley Jackson, who conveys the same basic message with much more restraint and elegance.

Graham Brown said...

Kelli - the Lost Museum sounds interesting to me - one of the best parts of our job - the gathering of knowledge.

Kelli Stanley said...

You're so right, Graham!! Constant learning is a good thing!! :)

And the stuff *you* get to learn is *really* cool!! :)

Diana James said...

Kelli - Great list!!! You really got my attention with Raymond Chandler. I've never read Chandler, and no one has every really compelled me to...til now.

Kelli Stanley said...

Wonderful!!! :) Thank you, Diana!!! Any time I can convince someone to read Chandler is a red letter day for me!! :)


lil Gluckstern said...

I loved the video, and I hope you have a great tour. I've read "City of Secrets" and really liked it. I read "The Lottery" as a child, and then as a grownup, and I'm still chilled by the dangers of people in a group. I am a child of Holocaust survivors, and I must admit that organized hate is very frightening to me (Politics, any one?) I look forward to your next book whenever it is set :)

Kelli Stanley said...

Oh, Lil--thank you so much!! :) You've made my day!!!

Organized hate is something I deeply fear as well ... I've never been a group person, and have felt the power of the mob on more than one occasion.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, the fear and horror of such things must run deep. And yes, there is far too much organized hate under the guise of political movements.

Thank you for sharing with us, for reading my books, and for reading Criminal Minds!! :)

Gabi said...

I'm adding The Lost Museum to my list so I'll be ready for more Miranda.

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks, Gabs!!! :) I know you'll enjoy it!! :)