So I’m taking a new writer’s workshop given by the fabulous Candace Havens. We’re two weeks in and right from the start I knew this was just the class I needed. I have heard much of what she has asked us to think about before, but it was back when I was just beginning and knew nothing about the craft of writing. I’m still learning but now I have perspective and some knowledge that is helping to make the information sink deeper and have more of an impact on what I am doing now. I can tell you it’s going to be a very rewarding journey if I can keep up!
One of the topics she asked us to consider as authors is what do we like about our favorite books. Break them down in terms of themes, messages, or what the characters are saying to the readers. In a round-a-bout way, all this had me thinking about what led me here. What led me to want to try to write books and what do I want them to say.
I love reading, of course. It’s been my favorite activity for as long as I can remember. I was never a writer in school. Hated it and don’t ask me about grammar- pretty sure I was not a star in that class. I was not one a teacher would point to and say was especially creative, though I did love drama. ☺
It has to be those books that I read that were so captivating they were somehow seminal in my evolution from aspiring anthropologist to aspiring writer. I have a list of several books that are the ones that pop to the front of the line as my favorites of all time and I have to read them again and again. These are not just great stories. These are characters that I feel are old friends. I know them and their lives influenced mine as much as any other person or experience. When I re-read these books (some I’ve been reading for twenty years) I laugh, I cry, I get frightened all over again. The characters and the settings transport me into places beyond my reality. They made me feel so intertwined with the story that I didn’t want them to end.
These are my reasons for wanting to be a writer. That kind of connection. Am I there yet? Not even close. What I know is that I want to achieve that level and nothing could be more satisfying than to having someone laugh, cry, or curse at something I’ve written. If I elicit some type of emotion from a reader, then I have done something special and they will always remember it. The worst thing would be to be easily forgotten!
Actually listing these books together gave me even more insight into who I am as a writer. The themes and types of characters I go to over and over in my plots, my love of romantic suspense and paranormal romance and, of course, the alpha hero loner who has to find true love to complete his mission. It explains so much of my development over the years.
If you have read any of these then you can see where my love of the lone hero came from. I don’t have a single true romance in the list above, though there is romance and true love and a happy ending in each of those books.
I discovered “real” romance in late high school/early college and fell in love immediately with the genre. Historical bodice rippers were absolutely wicked to me at the time and made the biggest impression. I had so many to catch up on, I read through everything from certain authors I could get my hands on sure that nothing else could be any better. The authors’ style, enticing characters and masterful delivery of the story had me hooked. The ones that I will say are my all time favorites and read again and again are:
Everything Johanna Lindsey wrote in the 80’s and early 90’s- I mean everything.
Everything Julie Garwood wrote in the 80’s and early 90’s- Yep, her too.
I soon branched out from historicals and discovered romantic suspense and paranormal romance. I’ve had to add Elizabeth Lowell and Sherrilyn Kenyon to my list of favorites that have helped grow my love of the genre into full-blown have-to-write-them passion. There are many others that I re-read, but they aren’t the same as my first. The first in a series or genre or historical time period that makes the greatest impression and causes the greatest emotional attachment.
There you have it, the books that birthed an aspiring romance author. I would love to know what your favorite books are. I mean the ones you will always have on your shelf. The ones you would take with you anywhere.
If you haven’t read any of those I listed, I highly recommend checking them out! If you have, then I hope you loved them as much as I.