Saturday, March 26, 2011

Even horror has its place

By Heather Justesen

So I've spent tons of time in the past couple of months reading books for the Whitney awards. I still have five left to finish off in the next three weeks--which probably seems like a lot, if you don't realize I've plowed through nineteen since the first of February. Five should be a breeze, right?

I just finished Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, whose first book, I am not a Serial Killer, won best book by a new author last year (okay, so it was a tie, but that's still awesome!). I've put off reading these books because I'm seriously not into horror, even though I bought IANASK for my husband almost two years ago. I don't like to be creeped out, and while suspense is fun, being scared--not so much for me. But to my surprise, instead of finding them totally creepy (only creepy in places, and rather gory here and there, but maybe it didn't bother me much because I've developed a warped sense of normal since I became an EMT), I found them darkly fascinating and very enjoyable.

You're probably wondering why I'm talking about Dan's genius when I've read almost thirty other finaling books already--all of them great. I admit, mostly it's because it's what I read last (about an hour ago). On the other hand, it's the perfect example for this post.

Ah, and now I get to the point. You see, as writers, we're told to read in our genre--everything we can pick up--so we can learn the rules and ins and outs of how things are done. On the other hand, reading outside your genre (and Mr. Monster was WAY outside my normal reading) helps you to become a better writer, gives you thoughts and ideas about what else is out there, different ways to attack your own writing, and may even be the inspiration to fix a plotting problem that's been giving you fits.

And reading for the Whitneys has exposed me to so many great books and new authors I've never read before. That by itself has made it all worthwhile.


Valerie Ipson said...

My recent blog post talked about reading in your genre, but this is a good reminder that we need to read outside our genre as well. Great post, Heather!

Steve Westover said...

Great points Heather!