Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Of final chapters and zombies by Cathy Ace

 "Once you start a book, do you feel compelled to finish it? If not, what causes you to put it down?"

Once upon a time, the answer to this would have been – “I always finish what I’ve started” but, recently, I find I’m having to allow myself to not finish a book I’ve begun. It’s a pretty alien concept to me – like not clearing my plate. Ingrained absolutes are tough to shake.

Books were so precious to me for most of my life (and still are, don’t get me wrong!) that it would be anathema to me to not work through to the end of a volume to complete the journey the author planned for me to take. Now? Not so much. Now I find my reading time is so much shorter than it used to be, and I have to read so much because of “authorly” commitments, that reading for pure pleasure has become something where I need to be grabbed by the book as soon as possible and not let go until the last page or – yes – I’ll wander off and find someone else who can give me that fix before I reach the final chapters
Waiting for a long vacation
 By week two of a two-week vacation I might be able to face a book with le Carre’s stately pace, but in week one I’m smashing through the Pattersons and Childs like a crazy person with smart characters, quite-but-strong types and high body counts littering my waking hours in a blaze of joyous entertainment-crime. Then I can stop, and allow the pace to slow into a panoply of nuanced ne’er-do-wells, all of whom shouldn’t be trusted further than I can dribble. Lovely!

Now all I need is a month off, and I’ll be enjoying Jane Austen all over again. (I recently watched the movie “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and LOVED it! Yep, there were plot-holes, and the lines from Austen’s pen dripped slowly from the mouths of zombie-killing characters, but, overall, it was great fun. I couldn’t manage the book when it came out though. Yes, the zombie-version of Pride & Prejudice was too slow for me!)

And that’s about where I am with reading at the moment: if it ain’t grabbing me right away, I won’t finish it. But, oh, to have the time to luxuriate in the manners of the Bennet sisters without worrying that they gained their zombie-fighting skills in China not Japan? That will mean I’m having a real break! And finishing every book I pick up. But maybe not too many of them will be about zombies. 

Are zombies or spies your kind of thing? If neither - what keeps you turning the pages until you're at the back cover?

Cathy Ace writes the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER was published in hardback in February, and book #1 THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER was published in trade paperback on March 1st) and the Cait Morgan Mysteries (book #7 THE CORPSE WITH THE GARNET FACE was published in paperback in April). Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at    


Paul D. Marks said...

I'm like you, Cathy. There's certain buzz words or phrases that make me go one way or the other. When I was ten zombies or vampires might have had me diving in and wanting more. But now those words in both books and movies make me run the other way.

Art Taylor said...

Catching up on the week—and interesting this trend (for me too) of folks who used to read all the way to the end but don't anymore (time, priorities, etc. changing our perspective on things). So many books, so little time, and I think sampling works wonders both for exposure to many authors and then the opportunity to discover the ones who really engage and to dive in deeper with those.

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Paul - I reckon phases are pretty normal things, and I'm on a bit of a piratical one right now. Yes, me timbers are shiverin' and I have yet to find a swash I don't want to buckle! Pirates, pirates, pirates....though all in the name of research, I promise :-) As to how pirates manage to work their way into my future books, well, that will have to remain a deep, dark secret for now. Eventually I will provide a map marked with an X !!!!

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Art - it is an interesting trend, you're right. And I agree, I've stuck with authors I've met on a "first date", which is a good thing. However, I am aware that the specifics of my personal situation also impact my readiness to be drawn into a book - and I try to allow for that my revisiting a book I "haven't enjoyed" on at least a couple more occasions, so I can be sure it's the book that doesn't suit me, rather than my passing mood/constraints being the problem.

Susan C Shea said...

I am a rabid Austen fan and the very thought of clogging up her wonderful stories, characters, and settings with zombie trash turns me off (even though I know the author of that book and respect him for his other novels). I can't decide if I read more slowly these days or if I'm just not as easily 'grabbed' by the stories I start to read. At the moment, I have four books (one non-fiction) partway finished, which is so different from former days when I dove in and finished a book at a time, but quickly.

Carol Garvin said...

Like you, I was conditioned to finish what I started, but I've finally overcome that urge in favour of reading what gives me enjoyment. I read with a different intent now -- the writer in me critiques in a way the naive reader didn't! If opening pages don't catch my attention I don't buy the book. Or if I already have it and the opening doesn't intrigue or the characters are bland, I may read to the end of the first chapter to give it a chance, but that's it. Someone else has already said it: "so many books, so little time". It's a good reminder to the writer part of me, that readers are becoming more discriminating.

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Susan - I know....the book, the movie.... poor Miss Austen! :-)

Cathy Ace said...

You're right, Carol - being a discriminating reader is something I find I MUST be these days :-)