Monday, August 28, 2017

Would I read my books?

Terry Shames answering this week’s perplexing question: if I had all the time in the world, would I like to read my own work?

I assume the question means would I pick one of my books out of all those wonderful books at the bookstore and read it. The answer is yes, and here’s why:

1)       The covers. I love the cover designs on my books. I love the colors, but even more I like the idea that they present: there is a certain desolation that each depicts that I like. The old, rusted car grill, the deserted stadium, the field with a crushed can. The last cover presented to me gave me a problem: it featured a beautiful field of bluebonnets. My objection? The book is set in dreary November (no bluebonnets blooming then), and it is a tough read, probably the hardest to write because it has some teeth-gritting scenes. Pretty bluebonnets? I don’t think so. Luckily, I know what the book after that is about, and the bluebonnet cover will fit beautifully. After I described the forthcoming book to the designer, she came up with a fitting cover—a field full of weeds and brush.

2)       The protagonist. I admit to not being drawn to cozy amateur detective books—with some really, really good exceptions. Although my books don’t have a lot of overt sex and violence, they aren’t cozies. If anything, they fit into the police procedural category, which means I would love it.

3)         The publisher. Seventh Street Books puts out some dynamite books. I am proud to be associated with authors like James Ziskin, Adrian McKinty, Susan Spann, Larry Sweazy, Mark Pryor, and Jennifer Kincheloe to name a handful. I know when I pick up a book published by Seventh Street that it’s going to be a book of substance, well written, and (especially!) well edited. These days, with so many publishers not putting a lot of effort into editing, it’s a pleasure to know that SSB puts a priority on that.

4)       It’s what I know. I grew up in Texas, and still have the sights and smells in my mind--the desolate landscapes, the Gulf Coast, the oil wells, the sandy west Texas desert, the glorious wildflowers (thank you, Lady Bird Johnson), and the dusty small towns. I have the sounds of Texas talk—different accents for different parts of the state. Even though the state of Texas politics these days stuns me, I maintain an affection for my roots. And it seems, these days, that Texas mysteries are popular. From relative newcomers Reavis Wortham and Melissa Lenhardt, to the tried and true Bill Crider and Joe R. Lansdale books set in Texas are having a heyday.

5)       Reviews. If I looked up the professional and reader reviews of my books knowing nothing about them, I would snap them up. I have been really lucky to have a following of people who write humbling reviews—ones that would compel me to read my books….if I hadn’t already read them too many times when I wrote them.


Kathy Reel said...

I agree that all of your reasons are great ones for reading your books. I'd have to change the one about being from Texas to learning more about Texas for me. As a fan of alluring covers, I am always excited about seeing what your new cover is, and I am never disappointed. The new one easily takes its place in the line of favorites. And, Samuel Craddock? How I would love to sit down to dinner with him! Seventh Street Books is now one of my go-to publishers to read books from. The line-up you mentioned is such awesome reading. And, your reviews are ones to proud of for sure. They are helping to guide readers to you daily.

You did fail to mention your titles, Terry. As much as I love a great cover, I feel equally as strong about titles. Yours are exceptionally interesting and inviting. Jarrett Creek and Samuel Craddock provide me with some of my best reading, and I feel so fortunate to have found them and found you. There are meetings that are magically fortuitous, and meeting you in Raleigh and you coming to dinner with that great group we had was something I look back on with awe at the universe for landing me there at that moment.

Terry said...

What an awesome comment! You know what? I meant to mention the titles, but forgot. Also, when I start writing about titles, they are so long that it takes the whole blog!

Thanks, Kathy!

Susan C Shea said...

These are all good answers and reasons why I snap up your books. Well, all except knowing Texas.