Thursday, July 11, 2019

Shall I compare thee to a police procedural? by Catriona

Reading: Do you read the kind of books that you write or do you tend to read books that are the opposite or different – and why?

I'm following Cathy's lead from yesterday - it's always a good idea - and starting by saying what I write: a series of presposterous 1930s detective novels (I truly think that should be an official genre); contemporary domestic noir psychological suspense thriller standalones (I don't know what to call them so I just use all the words and hope for the best (a good way to sum them up is "we meet a woman on the worst day of her life and follow her downhill from there")); and what was going to be a trilogy of comic mysteries, until a publisher offered a contract for book four. 

But is that what I read?

I inhale Lori Rader Day, Alex Marwood, Clare Mackintosh and Ruth Ware, who all write contemporary domestic noir psychological suspense thriller standalones too. Hey! I've just thought of a better way to describe them: "where's she off to now" books. Because of the covers - 

Where's she off to now?

In fact, I'm so greedy for these books that if I have to wait till publication day instead of scoring an ARC, I feel like I missed the party.

I also read a lot of books I would write if I could but know that they are completely beyond me. In the crime genre, I'm a huge fan of Steve Cavanagh's series of Eddie Flynn legal thrillers. I also revere and adore PJ Tracy's Monkeewrench series, police procedurals with a good dash of technological wizardry thrown in. I'd embarrass myself if I ever tried anything like that.

Maybe the biggest mismatch between my reading and my writing is that I love poetry - from Shakespeare's sonnets onwards - but am utterly prosaic. I cannot get poems to come out of me however many I stuff in and no matter how closely I study them on the way. Some of my favourite poets, like Kathleen Jamie, Carol Ann Duffy, and Vicki Feaver, write linguistically and structurally quite simple free verse and you'd think it wouldn't be that big a leap but I've tried and it's hopeless.

Considering that I've written fifteen historical novels, I don't actually read many of them. Some exceptions are The Underground Railroad (wow), Vicki Thompson's Counterfeit Lady series, Hilary Mantel's Tudor trilogy (never thought I'd have a crush on Thomas Cromwell, but Mantel's a great writer and here we are) and Flavia de Luce

But then I never conceived of the Dandy Gilver novels as historicals. I wanted to set myself back then and write as though they were contemporary, rather than looking back from here. And if I'm allowed that bit of fancy footwork then I do read a lot of similar stuff, because I'm a devoted fan of Persephone Books. They have published 132 and counting forgotten gems from - mostly - between WW1 and WW2. Pretty well all fiction, predominantly by women, and all with the same beautiful soft dove-grey jackets and exuberant end-papers. 

If you decide to check them out and find yourself ordering all 132, plus overseas shipping, feel free to blame me.

Happy reading!



Dietrich Kalteis said...

I'm not so sure about the 132 Persephone books, plus shipping, but I will check out The Underground Railroad and Steve Cavanagh's books. Thanks, Catriona.

Finta said...

You do know I rate you up there with Dorothy Sayers, minus her several issues with matters regarding Jews, et al. Thank you for writing all these books for me.