On Reading: Seeking Inspiration

There are writers who cannot read whatever they are writing at that moment. Meaning if they are writing (insert genre or sub-genre of choice) they steer clear of reading same genre or sub-genre for pleasure. They don’t want to be influenced by someone else’s work. Some even fear the author’s work (words) could bleed into their own. Taking it to another level, there are some who read non-fiction only when writing a fiction novel.

I am not one of those people.

I don’t fear that I will be influenced by another writer’s words, but I do hope to be inspired by them. If I am writing a historical western (like I am now), I like to read novels set in that same time period. I also like to watch movies set in that same time period. I also read and refer to numerous non-fiction books dedicated to that same time period. In short, it’s important to me to immerse myself in whatever period I am writing. I suppose you could compare it to method acting. Live it. Become it.

Last week, someone returned a book to the library. I checked it in, noting the title: Gunfight at Eagle Springs. I wasn’t familiar with the author, Frederic Bean, but the title and the cover caught my attention. A western. Historical. Not romance, but no matter. In the past I have read traditional westerns by Larry McMurtry, Robert B. Parker, and William W. Johnston and been entertained and inspired. I decided to give Mr. Bean a whirl.

One of the best feelings in the world is to be hooked and reeled in from page one of a book and that’s exactly what happened when I started reading Gunfight at Eagle Springs. I quickly learned that it was not only a historical western, but a murder mystery, and—bonus—there was a romantic element.

There was only one POV—the protagonist, a nineteen year old farmer who took on the job of sheriff as a way to supplement his income. The romantic element—the relationship between the protagonist and his young, but daring and clever wife. An alpha anti-hero, devious villain, and a cast of colorful secondary characters. Tight writing and just enough historical description to root me in the 1800s. The plot device that kept me turning the pages? This earnest young man’s courage and determination to solve a ten-year-old murder mystery.

I soaked in the lingo, the historical aspects—social and political. My brain sparked to solve the mystery. I read lickety-split, lightning-quick, and finished the book in two days. That’s fast for me, given my crammed schedule. This book would easily appeal to men and women, lovers of westerns and mysteries, and as I said, it even satisfied the romantic in me.

Thank you for entertaining me, Mr. Bean. And above all, for the inspiration.


chryscat said…
You know...I did the whole "avoidance" thing until this month. Then I threw caution to the wind and said, "What the hell?"
So I'm reading Paranormal Romance. I don't feel the big need to be drawn into it (as was my fear before). I can read objectively. And for that, I'm thankful.
Plus...I like to see other authors and how they convey the story.
Beth Ciotta said…
Hope you're enjoying the reads, Chrys. And I hope they're providing a healthy dose of inspiration. I just picked up a paranormal too (although that's not what I'm writing). Heather Graham's THE DEAD ROOM. Ghosts. Spooky. Yum. :)

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