Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The joy of rabbit holes... by Cathy Ace

Reading: Do you read different stuff when you're writing from when you're not? Why?

This is an interesting one – because I “don’t read at all” when I’m writing (see section below for more about what I do, in fact, read when I’m writing!). 

Maybe this is because I’m not the sort of writer who writes every day. Not fiction, in any case; oddly, I don’t think of writing blog posts or promotional stuff as “writing”. What I mean by “writing” is my writing or editing of works of fiction, created by me. And I don’t do that every day – I only do it in a burst of activity associated with one book. When I was writing three books a year the periods associated with writing and editing each book bumped up against each other and overlapped; I didn’t read much at all then, other than on vacation (and research-y stuff…see below), during those years. 

The reason I don’t read when I’m writing is because I find it difficult enough to cope with my own created world swirling about in my head, without having to contend with those created by others at the same time. I do, however, watch TV and movies when I take a break in the writing day, as a world created by others and shown to me is something I am able to cope with…it’s just the imagining of a created world I can’t manage!

Last year I promised myself and my husband that, from this year on, I would write only one book a year; we want to spend more time together, and now that he’s retired we’re able to do that. Nowadays, therefore, I am wallowing in the delight of having more time to read…so what am I reading?

Let’s just say I’m not short of options! My “To Be Read Pile” toppled over to create a “To Be Read Mound” some time ago; I reorganized it, and it’s now a collection of short stacks of books sitting on the floor along the baseboard. I’m working my way through them.

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I’m only now getting around to reading ARCs of books given to me some time ago – several have been launched to much acclaim, and have even been superseded by the next book by the same author in some cases…I refuse to divulge the names of said authors on the grounds I might offend some lovely people.

What I’m trying really hard to do is not buy new books until I’ve read those I already have – but that’s a bit like telling the sun to not rise. Pointless.

As for what I DO read when I’m writing – well that can be anything, and sometimes it might seem a bit of an odd collection. For me, researching a new book begins with points of inspiration for plotting, which might require me to read widely…or even joyfully disappear down rabbit holes for a while. 

For example, knowing the basics of the story I wanted to tell in The Wrong Boy, I read dozens of psychological suspense and thriller books through 2018…from books that were fifty years old to books not then help me find my footing within the sub-genre. I wanted to work out which paths were already well-trodden, and which seemed to be largely unexplored. It helped. I also then read books delving into Welsh mythology as well as archaeological discoveries in Wales, plus a great deal of online research reading to allow me to deal with specific factual points. Excellent fun! And all for research purposes. YAY!

Now the Blatant Self Promotion bit: on June 11th I found out I didn't win something...but that I was one of seven finalists! The International Book Awards have been presented for the past ten years, and this year The Wrong Boy was judged a finalist in the suspense/mystery category. Congratulations to everyone else on the list, and to the winner Steven James (who is published by Berkley/Penguin Random House, by the my book was up against the Big Guns!) So chuffed! More info here.

And maybe please consider reading my books? You can find out about me, and them, by clicking here. Thanks! 


Paul D. Marks said...

I agree with you, Cathy. When I think of writing I'm thinking of fiction writing. Not working on the blog or other things. But I do read other things while I'm writing because, since I'm always writing, I'd never read anything if I didn't :-) .

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Paul, I think I'm a bit odd in that I'm not writing fiction all the time. For me, it's just not practical...writing three books a year almost did me in!