Some of the most common advice to aspiring writers is to read a lot and write a lot. I’m not sure how I’m doing on the latter, but the former has always been a passion of mine.
Back in junior high, I spent the summer on my bike, riding all over the neighborhood, all over the bike paths, at the park, and to the library. I would head over there at least twice a week. I’d get three or four books, then I’d be back in a couple days to trade them out for something else. I loved The Three Investigators. If the next book in the series wasn’t at our branch, I would reserve it. Those were my first mysteries, and I was obsessed. I liked to rewrite it in my mind as I read it, to include a character that was, in essence, me.
In high school I started reading Louis L’Amour, and I devoured the books. I would easily read two or three a week, even during the school year. I would read in the hallways at school while walking between classes. I would read in the car on the way home. I often wondered if I was the only teenager who had the threat of no books as punishment for not completing homework. To me, that seemed unconstitutional. During these years I also stumbled across Mary Higgins Clark and was instantly in love with her works. I never could figure out the answers to her mysteries until the big reveal, and I still admire and enjoy her writings.
After I joined the Army, I was introduced to R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf Trilogy and once again, I was entranced. I couldn’t even venture a guess of how many books by Salvatore I have on my shelves now, but I know that two of them are all his, with one shelf being paperbacks that are two deep with more stacked sideways on top of them.
These authors have all impacted what I read and how I write. If I pick up a fantasy book, I gauge its quality against the prose of R.A. Salvatore. If it’s a thriller or mystery, I hope they keep me on the edge as well as Mary Higgins Clark. As I write, these are the authors I look up to, that I aspire to rise to their level. But in the meanwhile, I need to catch up on my reading. Kindle can be a dangerous thing in my hands, and I got a discounted trilogy that I hope is as good as the reviews claimed. The Dragon War Trilogy by Daniel Arenson. This should keep me entertained for a few days at least…