I was tagged for the September Sisters in Crime SinC-Up for Bloggers by my dear friend, Linda Townsdin, who is an active member of Sisters in Crime (SinC) in the Sacramento, California area. I, too, have been a member of SinC for many years -- uh oh, I wonder if I remembered to renew this year -- and have learned a great deal from the online resources of this national mystery writers' organization. Though my publishing credits are in young adult (YA) fiction, I've been working on adult mystery novels a lot longer than YA. Finishing them and getting them published -- well, that's a different story! I've been an avid reader of mysteries, especially those by women authors, ever since I discovered Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers in my early twenties. A long time ago.
The Blog Hop invites us to answer questions about ourselves as an author. Here are the ones I chose:
Which authors have inspired you?
I remember checking my first Agatha Christie novel out of the library and getting so excited I ended up reading all of her books, and then when I could afford to buy them, reading them all again and again. And then, when someone suggested I try Dorothy Sayers and her Lord Peter Whimsy series, I was blown away and did the same thing with them. I was very young and all I was writing at the time was poetry. Suddenly all I wanted to read were murder mysteries. My strong preference has always been for the female voice in this genre. At the moment, I'm gob-smacked by Louise Penny and her Armand Gamache series. I've read and re-read the series more times than I want to admit trying to figure out how she does that seamless switching of POV. And also, just because I want to hang out in Three Pines with those characters. I've recently done the same thing with Laurie R. King's series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. In middle grade and young adult fiction, the authors that have had the most influence on me are Madeleine L'Engle, E.L. Konigsburg, Laure Halse Anderson, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Cynthia Rylant, Sharon Creech, Jacqueline Woodson, and Linda Sue Park. And poets whose work keeps me going are: Diane Glancy, Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, William Stafford . . . the list goes on and on.
I love almost everything about the writing process, so let me just get the challenging part out of the way first. Wanting to start something new but feeling paralyzed sucks. The enormous gap between what's in my head and what comes out on paper (or the computer screen) can be terribly frustrating. Fortunately, I enjoy rewriting. And I've noticed that my favorite authors write about many of the same things over and over and over again, so I'm assuming that means even they are still trying to "get it right." The best part of the process for me is when a brand new character starts talking in my head (and talking and talking and talking) and suddenly I can't wait to get the words down. I love the way that part of the process flows, how consuming it is, yet how energizing it can be. The puzzle of a novel (compared to the much briefer form of a poem) taps into a different set of problem-solving skills and I have a really good time tracking threads through the story, making sure all the details make sense and work the way they must.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
Hope's Edge: The Next Diet For a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe. This is the 2003 follow-up to Diet for a Small Planet, still timely and a fascinating look at the many ways committed people around the world are challenging the status quo of food production and consumption. I'm enjoying it a lot.
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny. I am in love with Penny's characters and setting in her Armand Gamache series and have already read this most recent one twice.
The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman. I've recently started re-reading some of the mysteries that I enjoyed many years ago. Let me just say that I'm appreciating Emily Pollifax in a brand new way now that I'm nearly her age. Enough said.
Covered Wagon Women: Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 edited by Kenneth L. Holmes. One of my favorite birthday presents this year -- the first two volumes in this series. This period of women's history in our country has always fascinated me.
Chopper! Chopper! Poetry from Bordered Lives by Veronica Reyes. Another fav birthday gift. An amazing voice from East LA. I'm loving her.
Skirt Full of Black by Sun Yung Shin. My first reading of this Korean American woman's poetry. She grew up in Chicago and now lives and teaches here in Minnesota. The way she pushes linguistic boundaries and form reminds me a little of my hero, Native American poet, Diane Glancy. Powerful work.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah; Agatha Christie (a new Hercule Poirot)
The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1) by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot #1) by Agatha Christie
Lucky Us: A Novel by Amy Bloom
Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature by Tina Welling