Reading to Writing: An Author’s Journey
I’ve always loved thrillers. I read a ton of thriller and horror classics back before I started reading romance novels at thirteen. Authors like Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Lois Duncan, Diane Hoh, and Leslie Rule. I didn’t get into the Goosebumps books much; I was getting a bit old for them. But I read just about everything else for young adults. I even started drafting my own novel with dark themes (I never finished it, but it’s still in my head).
Following in my sister’s footsteps, I started reading romance novels at the age of thirteen. My first two romance novels were a Harlequin romance titled Master of Glen Crannach by Stephanie Howard and Rebellious Desire by Julie Garwood. After those I got into western and historical romance. I read books by Connie Mason, Teresa Medeiros, and Ellen Tanner Marsh. And that phase lasted into my mid-twenties.
After that, I switched to adult murder mysteries and psychological thrillers. Books by Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, and Dean Koontz. Those were so good. I couldn’t get enough.
Looking back through my reading habits, I can pick out the ones that have had the most impact on my own writing career. The books that have stuck with me through the many years.
Recently, I’ve gravitated back toward romance but with drama elements. I guess it’s the best combination of the two – emotional and heartfelt love stories. They’re psychological. They’re dramatic. They’re the best of both worlds.
That’s the kind of fiction I write under my own name*. My novels in The Hexon Code series are filled with these elements. They’re a little dark; they’re a little gritty; they’re difficult to read because they’re so emotional and filled with hard topics; they’re filled with clean romance; and they’re filled with characters trying to find hope for a better future despite everything that tells them otherwise.
I write the books that want to be written, and I tell the stories that my characters demand for me to tell. I doubt I’d be able to do this without the influences of everything I’ve ever read. Reading helped me define the genres that move me in the ways I want to be moved. Without reading, I wouldn’t be a writer.
*I use a pen name for stories that aren’t as “clean” – stories written for adult women who don’t mind a little adventure with a lot more steam.