Thursday, June 23, 2022

Books make such good friends . . . in place of fear, by Catriona

  Q: Do you read only crime fiction? If so, why? If not, what else do you read? Does it affect your writing? 

What? The blog title? Yeah, I was trying something. I wrote a book called Quiet Neighbours, see, and "Books make such good friends and ..." was the perfect strapline for it. I thought I'd see if it would work again. It didn't. 

Disclaimer: I just got back to Scotland (about 20 hours ago) and am loopy with jet lag, as well as being slightly undercaffeinated. Bear with me.

Vew from hotel window

At the end of the year I tot up what I've been reading and it usually comes out at 50% crime fiction of various kinds - psychological suspense, traditional, procedural, cozy, historical, comic, PI, YA, in roughly that order (except that Tracy Clark and Cheryl Head are tipping the PI count upwards) - 35% other fiction - literary, fantasy, horror (well, Stephen King) 10% non-fiction - biography/memoir, poetry, essays and travel and a bit of poetry.

If I was at home I'd take a picture of my TBR shelves - the best way to show what I've been buying and am about to be reading - but since I'm at home home here's a picture I happened to have of what I read in June. It's at least 50% crime fiction, right enough, but the rest is non-fiction - memoir, autobiogtaphy, essays, and a fascinating history of the handshake. I was deliberately trying to read the Antnony shortlists, and deliberately interspersing them with completely different fare, so they didn't merge in my head and I could remember what was what come voting time at Bouchercon (because, let's face it, it's going to be difficult enough to pick one to vote for).

And that's the answer to the question, kind of. I never worry about what I read affecting my wiriting- Wait, except for things like I'd never read PG Wodehouse if I was working on a comedy because his style is too infectious. I do watch what I'm reading in case it affects my other reading though. I always want to give each book a fair shake and not cloud it with what came before.

For the plane journey here (11 hours in total) I picked Anne Tyler's latest, French Braid in print - a banker (guranteeed to be utterly delightful) and soothing enough to stop me fretting about the tight turn-around in Dulles (which worked out okay actually). On audio, it was Elly Griffiths' The Chalk Pit, familiar enough so it didn't matter if I dozed off and, again, soothing. That's the thing about being steeped in crime fiction, isn't it? The Chalk Pit, with multiple murders of vulnerable people and a a bit of light cannibalism to boot truly is a comfort read. (Isn't it weird when you come across someone who says 'Oh no, I don't read crime. It's so upsetting to think of people doing all those terrible things.')

So - incoming segue of no great subtlety - if you, like me, find sundry skullduggery just the ticket (Hmmm, I only mentioned PG Wodehouse's name and here he comes), then you might care to know that In Place of Fear is coming out in the US next Tuesday. 


1 comment:

Josh Stallings said...

Loopy with jet lag and undercaffeinated, yet still a joy to read. Made me think about what are my comfort reads. And yes to the outsider they may seem dark. But I find murder and mayhem helps me sleep. Maybe it's like Grimm brothers, having it in a book makes the chaos of life feel manageable.