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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Devyn Quinn


I'm often asked this question: What does a writer read?

Since I write fiction, I spend most of my time living in a universe of my own creation. The places my mind takes me (and some of those places I imagine make people wonder where they can get the crack I must smoke to make stuff up) range far and wide. Sometimes my mind is lurking in cemeteries, lurking in shadows as I disturb uneasy graves. Other times I'm in a more contemporary mode, wondering what would happen if I took a piece of my real life and added a dash of fantasy, say about a handsome coworker... Through it all, though, one thing remains constant. I make it all up.

SO I must read a lot of fiction to be able to write it. Right?

Wrong.

I rarely read fiction. Pick your jaw off the floor now. The sentence you read is correctly written. I don't read much paranormal or erotic or contemporary fiction. Sure, I've read my share. Who hasn't? When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with authors like Stephen King, Anne Rice and too many others to mention. I literally devoured books, every damn gothic and paranormal romance I could get my hands on in the 70's and early '80's. I read so many that I had 5 library cards to juggle, so I could have the maximum amount of books at any given time. It was nothing for me to read 2-3 paperbacks in a day.

And then I had a bright idea. After getting a kernel of an idea, I decided I wanted to write my own stories. To me, that meant putting other fiction authors down and concentrating on my own. I haven't regretted that choice, but why, you wonder, did I make it?

Simple. One, as a new writer I didn't want to do as many others unintentionally do and try and copycat the styles of my favorites. That's a common thing new writers fall into, imitating the voice of a style they admire. I will cop to trying my best to imitate Stephen King, all the while swearing I was an original. I wasn't. I was just tossing out all I recalled of King's style, and not doing a very good job. Two, I didn't want their ideas creeping into my mind. Yes, I know I write, for example, vampires. so do Anne Rice and King and countless other authors. As a newbie I decided the one thing I didn't want to be was intimidated. Opening a book and see that someone is doing your genre better than you ever could will scare the pants off any new writer. How can you possibly be as good as they are? After all, that writer is published. And you. You're a beginner without a single credit to your name.

Pretty scary stuff.

So I put down the fiction and picked up non-fiction instead. What's more, I found it to be just as original and entertaining as fiction. Sometimes even more so. And I was delighted to learn that there were thousands of books waiting for me on the subjects I most love dearly, history and biography. I love Hollywood and its history. I adore reading biographies of the actors and producers, directors and moguls that make up the business of entertainment. I can't get enough of biographies on famous faces like Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Mary Pickford, Sam Goldwyn, and all the old stars from the beginning. I admit Hollywood loses its allure when it comes into the 70's... Admittedly I draw the line on current personalities. I want a beginning, a middle and an end to their lives and careers. I'll wait until Brad Pitt is 80 or 90 to read his bio. Of course, I'll be 80 or 90 myself, but hey, I can be an optimist. I also love history, especially the English royal family and I cop to be a Princess Diana fanatic and have read every book I can find on her. I've also covered the rest of the royal family, as well as general English and Irish history. Accounts of WW 2 and other battles fascinate me, as does the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust.

So many books to read, and so little time. I am sure you can see why my time to read fiction is limited. Not that I am knocking anyone's choice in reading fiction. After all, I do write it. I simply prefer to keep my professional side and my pleasure side separated now.

Do I cheat and pick up a fiction book now and again, you might ask.

Why sure. Every now and again a title catches my eye and I just have to put down the bio and take a peek into another writer's world. Fiction is like chocolate. If I eat a lot, I'll get fat. If I just nibble, I'll keep my girlish figure.

So what do I read when I am cheating on my non-fiction books? Well, I love to take at authors like Kate Douglas, Red Garnier, Sara Reinke, and Stephen King--to name a few of my many favorites.

So what do you, dear reader, prefer? Give me a shout out at author@devynquinn.com and tell me who some of your favorite authors and subjects are, and why you enjoy them so much!

1 comment:

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Devyn,

I know exactly what you mean! I am a reference book junkie. To read fiction while I am in the midst of my world throws me out of it. I have to be between ideas or at a block.

Amanda Stevens is one author (my favorite) whom I cannot read while I am writing. Having had to opportunity to meet her, I have told her that when I read her books, I just wonder that I could every write so well.

Like you, I do not read biographies of people who are still alive. I'm not interested in People magazine or things like that. I'd rather read about someone in history and how they influenced history.

Yes, so many books, so little time! I have not read your fiction before, so I will have to give it a try. I've certainly enjoyed your posts the past two days.

Julie