Strange how things work out.
Many of us tend to stick to the genre we know and appreciate (dare I say love?) during the early part of our lives, but this could be a grave mistake for the aspiring writer.
As a hardened sci-fi reader (I was a big fan of E.E.’Doc’ Smith, Heinlein and Clarke), being passed the complete ‘Sharpe’ series (British soldiers fighting in the Napoleonic era) made me shudder, but I quickly learned to appreciate the works – eventually going on to buy the entire televised series on DVD.
And when I shelved ‘Homeworld‘ and embarked upon the (Stephen Donaldson-inspired) fantasy saga that was to become ‘Elementals‘, the same benefactor who had introduced me to Richard Sharpe then revealed to me the wacky (Disc)world of Terry Pratchett. Traces of those wandering wyrd-oes can be found within ‘Elementals‘, despite its serious nature.
Genre blindness can be a very sad thing. Think of it as akin to literary inbreeding. If an author restricts their reading solely to their pet genre, that genre can only expand so far before it implodes for lack of new material. A good writer (and I’m not counting myself among them) should look beyond his own works and read voraciously of other genres, to bring back new material and further the diversity of their own.
What I’m saying (without the pseudo-19th century english) is basically read, read, read and don’t restrict it to fantasy if you’re a fantasist, or sci-fi if you’re a futurist. As I mentioned in my last post (Extra-genre readers), I was passed a book (Run for Home) that revolved around a 13 year-old girl who was kidnapped for the purposes of white slavery. It’s a subject I would never, ever have chosen to read, but I read the book out of politeness, never realising that the feelings it invoked would stay with me for life (ok, 12 years to date).
These feelings, served me well they have, as I attempt my first (supernatural) romance novel.
Read well, my friends, and go on to write…um…weller?
So, what have you taken from books outside your genre? What unlikely story has had an influence on your writing?
P.S. I make no apologies for the scattering of links within this post. Not to everyone’s taste, they may yet stir your curiosity enough to explore them…