Sunday, July 1, 2012


I hadn't planned to blog today. Truly. I should be writing--well, on my WIP, writing. You knew what I meant, right? Cool. But it's been one of those weekends, and I've gotten up early two mornings in a row, this one starting with baby feeding, baby rocking, laundry, coffee, and... sigh. I've made a habit out of checking Betrothed's Kindle sales, and while doing so this morning, I noticed on my "recently viewed items" at the bottom of Amazon's front page rested an entire string of R.A. Salvatore novels.

"Oh, yeah!" I thought. "I was looking up some of his stuff, wasn't I?"

When I was in my late teens/early twenties a person who shall remain nameless introduced me to the fabulous, deep, adventurous world of a dark elf named Drizzt Do'Urden.  I started as I should have, with Homeland, then Sojourn, then Exile--better known as the Dark Elf Trilogy.  With the exception of Tolkien's saga, which I read as required in high school, I had never thought to pick up a fantasy novel.  I mean, the covers were gorgeous, yes, but what could I possibly gain out of reading about elves, goblins, orcs, and dwarves?  After all, I wrote romantic stories about kings and queens, princes and princesses.  I studied British history, not Middle Earth or, in Drizzt's case, Menzoberranzan, Northern Faerûnand, and Icewind Dale (to name but a few).

But here's what I gained from stepping out of my comfort zone: the incredible, talented work of R.A. Salvatore. I really can't say enough about this guy.  What's funny is that, like so many readers and writers, I fall into reading ruts. You know how it is, when you can't find a decent book?  Every one reads the same or doesn't read at all, because the writing is like... well. Not that mine is awesome, mind, but you follow me here, yeah?

So, I cross the threshold of my friendly neighborhood secondhand bookstore, shuffle right of the counter for a change (I always go left, because it'll take me to romance and young adult), and what do I find? 

The Lone Drow by R.A. Salvatore, hardback, pristine condition, $3.

I open the cover. It creaks. And I can't suppress the smile crawling across my face, because I love it when that happens. I flip a couple pages. Land on one of the many things I love about Salvatore's Drizzt novels. Ever so often the drow (that's dark elf for you non-fantasy peeps) makes a journal entry of sorts, and it's the reader's opportunity to slide deeper into his intelligent, sharp mind.

And so, I read.

And then I think, "You know this. You know he writes so beautifully your jaw falls open and drool splashes on the page while reading. You know this, so why the heck were you complaining, albeit mentally, about a reading rut?"

Yes, yes, it's taken me forever to get to the point, but I entitled this post "Revisiting," because that's exactly what I do when I'm deep into the creation process of a novel.  I revisit the people I admire and love most. Those whose writing moves me to drool and tears and inspiration. Janet Mullany, Kristan Higgins, Simone Elkeles, J.K. Rowling, and, yes, Rob--did you know his first name was Robert? Robert Anthony, actually--Salvatore. There's a deep comfort to be had within the writing of those authors you treasure, whose works appear proudly upon your Keeper Shelf.

Whom do you revisit? Who stands out among the crush of talented authors?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Juli said...

I tend to stay within the same 3 authors, Patterson, Koontz, and Sparks. Patterson for his lesser popular "family" books (like Maximum ride, Daniel X and Suzanna's Diary for Nicholas) Koontz for his wildly crazy psychopathic ones (that are so much unlike my everyday life) and Sparks for fluff.

I do have some deviation, but I'm likely to come 'home' to these books. And if I can get them for a deal, all the better.

Bonnie Rae said...

I have never read those. I am totally in a rut right now too, but I have had two really good suggestions lately that I might check out. Some older sci/fi novelists that I have heard wonderful things about.

And then there is the Game of Thrones series I have been meaning to read.

Alyssia said...

@Juli You know, I am sad to say I've never read Koontz, though I actually own one or two of his novels. Any recommendations?

@Bonnie Funny you should mention old sci fi, because after watching The Jane Austen Book Club for the bazillionth time, I told myself that I was finally going to look up some Ursula Leguin. Naturally, I forgot again, but then ran across one of her many titles on the clearance table at BAM. Bought it, looks really good, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Andrew Leon said...

I just tend to not revisit. I just don't have the time to re-read with all of the books I haven't read on my stack. Saying that, I have some books I read long ago on my stack, right now.
I don't think I have what you're talking about, though.

I also tend to not get stuck in particular genres (although there are some genres that I tend to avoid) even if I would stay in the fantasy/sci-fi section if I just did what I wanted to.

Riamber said...

Karen Hancock...The Guardian King series. Some great Christian allegory with fantasy, kings, queens, sword fighting, dragons. And the thing I love about this author, when I took the time to email her about how much her books changed my life, she emailed me back! I've read the series every year for the past 7 years. Sometimes they are read three times in a year! These are four books that will always be on my keeper shelf.

Alyssia said...

@Andrew It's definitely a good idea not to get stuck in particular genres. One thing I've discovered over the past couple of years is that it's better to stay away from the genre in which you are writing at the time, or at least keep it to a bare minimum, so your work stays fresh. Does that make sense? Anyway. I understand what you mean about re-reading. With so many new books out there, finding the time to re-read is extremely difficult.

@Riamber How wonderful! An author who actually responds to feedback and/or emails makes me love him or her that much more. I'm totally excited to know about Karen! Never read any of her stuff, so I'll definitely have to add her to the To Be Read list.

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