Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deborah Cooke

Deborah Cooke is the author of the fantasy romance Dragonfire series. She has also written over forty romance novels under the names Claire Cross and Claire Delacroix.

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her response:
The Library and Bookstore Buffet

Everyone who visits my regular blog knows how much I love an analogy, so here’s one for today about reading and writing.

If libraries and bookstores were buffets, then the works of individual authors would be the offerings on the buffet. It would be a long buffet, long enough that dishes could be sorted into groupings – desserts, for example, or salads. And if that were the case, what kind of buffet visitor would you be?

I would be the kind of buffet guest who wants one bite of everything. I can never decide in a book or library what book I want to read, or even what kind of book I want to read. I cruise the entire library and browse the whole bookstore, looking. And because my reading days are shorter than the sum of authors in the world, I usually choose something I’ve never had before. A sample bite from a different dish. I seldom read two books by any one author, because I want to try them all.

I’ve always been an avid reader but becoming a writer has cut into my sampling. Like many writers, I don’t read fiction when I’m writing fiction. It’s not uncommon for me to be in a phase of tight deadlines that doesn’t allow for any extra-curricular reading.

That only emphasizes my tendency to sample! December of this year is my reading month. This month is my time to get to my To Be Read pile. Like many authors, I also tend not to read within the genre in which I’m working – that gives me another way to refine my hunt at the library buffet. Lately, I’ve been cruising the literary fiction aisles, although I do have a tendency to choose magical realism. I can be seduced by an intriguing cover.

I’m currently finishing a lovely book, which I started over a year ago and had to put aside to get back to my own writing. It’s been haunting me, though. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards is eloquent and touching. I’m really enjoying her dexterity with language. This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m glad she pointed me toward it.

After that will be Whistling In the Dark by Lesley Kagen, a book that has been waiting on me for a while. This book, interestingly, was not recommended by another friend. I usually disagree with him (!) so expect I will love it. We can have a rousing argument over the holidays, each trying to change the other’s mind while our significant others fill up the wine. What’s fun about these discussions is that we tend to find a balance point and usually end up agreeing.

Next up will be a book that was a wonderful surprise to find. Writers’ groups tend to form and dissolve in an organic way, as writers change focus or move or take on different challenges. A while ago, I was in a group which included Lynda Simmons. We both drifted from that group, but I remember that she was determined to “write Rosie’s book.” Well, I found Getting Rid of Rosie by Lynda Simmons, published, and am very excited about reading it.

I also have high hopes for Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, which will be one of my reads this month. I’ve heard very good things about this book and the package is exquisite.

Finally, I have The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I love magical realism and am past due to read his work.

After that, if time permits, I’ll dig into the really big TBR pile. Some books have been in there for years, waiting on my attention. My husband enjoyed Sea of Poppies by Amitav Gosh so I’m curious about it. The Tiger Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin is waiting patiently, added to the stash because I enjoyed her first book, What The Body Remembers, so much. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is in that pile, as is In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant. (I liked her first Italian historical novel a lot.) They’ve both been there a while, despite my interest in them both.

No matter how you look at it, my buffet is fully loaded.

I’ll round out the year with my usual ritual. On New Year’s Day each year, I begin to reread a favourite book. The final choice is still pending for this year, but I’ve narrowed it down – it’ll be Possession by A.S. Byatt or Blackberry Wine by Joanna Harris. The choice will depend upon how quickly I need to start writing again!
Visit Deborah Cooke's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue