I’ve never really been one to reread books,even when I LOVE them. There are copies of books that have been sitting on my shelves for years. I look at their spines, and the memories of reading them make me smile: Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, too many others to name. I’ve just never had the urge to crack the covers of these books again.
This week I found myself rereading a book I read fairly recently, Laurell K. Hamilton’s A Kiss of Shadows. I’d checked it out for my roomie, but she never got to it. I don’t know if it was the looming deadline or the fact that I don’t own the book that made me go there. But I did. Two days before it was due back at the library, I found myself sucked back into Merry Gentry’s world. It was almost as if I hadn’t been there before. The juicy parts were still juicy. The funny parts were still funny. And my mouth still fell open at the jaw-dropping parts. Good times.
Still, there were quite a few new experiences as well. I was able to give the book a much closer reading. Of course, there were things that I completely missed the first time. But I was more intrigued by looking at the writing from a technical standpoint. I got a much better grasp on how LKH weaves description and backstory into her work. I became aware of the subtle, but effective foreshadowing that was lost during the first read. And then there was steady building of characters without slowing the pace of the story. All good lessons. Hmm, I’m thinking I should break open some other oldie-but-goodies and see what I can learn.
“Third person isn’t my thing. I like first person narration.” Laurell K. Hamilton
Since I’ve been enamored with all things Laurell K. Hamilton lately, I decided to watch some videos of her on youtube. In one, she gave the statement above. It kind of implied that she sticks with what she likes best and that got me to thinking. Most of the writing teachers I’ve encountered, books I’ve read, even other writers I talk with all recommend the same thing. That is, work hard, learn every aspect of craft. But here’s a highly successful, talented author who doesn’t bother with what doesn’t ring her bell. Now I’m sure LKH could crank out excellent work in third person if she wanted, but the point is she doesn’t want to.
Some writers are just better at certain things than others. One of my friends writes the best descriptions that involve all the senses. They aren’t flowery, but they are thorough in way that just feels forced when I try to write that way. My writing is much stronger in pacing and clarity than hers. I know that its important to push yourself and to keep as many tricks of the trade at your disposal as possible. But I’m starting to see that finding your voice is also about playing to your strong suits as well. Maybe mastering the tools you are most proficient at is a better strategy than taking on ones that don’t feel as natural for the sake knowing it all. Note to self: Be less serious, have more fun.
So, my bestie and I were roaming around our local library looking for new reads. I’d found a couple of things in the stacks that looked fairly promising. As I walked over to the lounge section to sit with my gal pal, I noticed a book called Divine Misdemeanors. I read the synopsis, then passed the book to my friend. We like fairies. We like detectives. Sounds like a go. There were two copies, and we each checked out one. We are our own little book club after all.
Got the book home and read chapter one. Looked up the series, realized I had book eight of eight, and promptly put it down. Put book one on hold, and boy was I glad I did. A Kiss of Shadows was quite the cracky experience, highly addictive.
If you’re put off by sex or violence, then this is not the series for you. There is more than a fair share of both. I didn’t even realize that it was categorized as erotica until I had already lovingly dubbed the series “fairy porn.” Of course there is much more to it than that, but you’ve just got to love a girl with a harem. Sigh.
Laurell K. Hamilton does a good job of totally immersing the reader into a new culture. It’s fast paced and thoroughly detailed at the same time. It’s lovely and imaginative. You add politics, prejudice, and novelty to the sex and violence , and well, it’s just hard to put down. I’ve read the first three books in a about a week and a half. Picked up book four, A Stroke of Midnight, today. I’m sure I’ll be done before the weekend is out.