What’s up everyone? I hope you are having as fabulous of a week as I am! Campaign starts on Thursday, snagged an Interview, learned Doctor Who was back, new book idea about vampires and zombies – – and what can be better than all that? Why, so glad you asked!
What can be better than all that is having a very special new Ask the Reader!
That’s right folks. The only interview where WRITERS ask READERS what they are looking for in a book. And why not? Readers are our bread and butter so to speak. It’s important to know what they want so we can give it to them. I know as a writer these answers have helped me, and I hope they help you too!
So now let me bring in my VERY special guest star, my long Twitter-friend @lexcade! Better known as Cate Peace. A hotel worker by day, writer by night. You can find more about her by her lovely blog here, which I highly recommend you visit! Going from nobody to somebody is her blog.
And now, without anymore delay, here is her very insightful Ask the Reader:
1. How often would you say you read, per week? Per month?
Oh wow. For me this one is kind of hit or miss. Because I’m a writer, too, I tend not to read as much as I want because I’m concentrating on MY books (and the insanity they make me feel). So I have spurts. For instance, I read an entire book on Saturday. I’m in the middle of another one. But after this one, I may not read again for a while.
For me, my favorite thing about reading and writing is the same: the chance to be someone else for a while. I’ve always loved a good story. My grampa used to tell me stories all the time when I was a kid, and I fell in love with reading partly because of that. But I’m a pretty mild-mannered chick in real life. I work at a hotel. I do practically the same thing day in and day out. So, if I have the chance to pretend I’m a super hot chick getting hit on by an incubus (thanks Allison Pang), or heck, even have a chance to have a different high school experience (thanks every YA book ever written) because I HATED high school, I’ll take it.
I try to read primarily science fiction/fantasy because that’s what I write, but I’ll read anything. And not just fiction, either. I love true crime non-fiction, historical books, and *ahem* books about Jack the Ripper. 😀
5. What is your ultimate favorite genre?
Science fiction/Fantasy. Not just because I write it, either. Science has always fascinated me, and even though the only science I was ever good at was chemistry, I LOVE LOVE LOVE imagining the things the human mind can come up with, and I’m amused by the sheer amount of what’s been invented just because it showed up in science fiction first. Google it. It’s amazing! I’ve read almost every HG Wells book ever (The Island of Dr. Moreau actually inspired the manuscript I’m querying now), love Jules Verne. As far as fantasy goes, I LOVE LOVE LOVE immersing myself in a totally new world. Elves? Heck yes. Winged things? Please. Dragons? I’m so there. Swords and shields and magic? BOO YAH. Bring it! As much as I love books in general, I get a special thrill from reading and writing on the fringes of reality or jumping straight off into fantasy.
6. Is there any genre you refuse to read? Why so?
Not that I can think of. Once, I would have said romance, but I’ve met some fabulous authors whose books and ideas have changed my mind about what romance can be. Keri Stevens, Taryn Kincaid, and Phoenix Sullivan just to name a scant few of many. Seriously. The world is full of fabulous stories. We just have to categorize them to figure out where they fit in a book store.
7. Anything you hate about reading?
Ok. I’ve read a few…less than perfect books. Price you pay, you know? I think if I had to pick something to hate about reading, it’d be either unchangeable endings or knowing an author could have do SO MUCH MORE with a story and just copped out (I’m looking at you, Bram Stoker; yeah, I know you’re dead, but dammit, the ending to Dracula still makes me furious!)
8. Do you skim? If so, what kind of scenes do you find yourself skimming?
Hello. My name is Cate, and I’m a skimmer. I will skim through repetitive sections (which is how I made it through Twilight so fast), whining sections, and infodumps. Basically anything that qualifies as bad writing, I’ll skip. Also if your book is full of poor grammar, I will skip to the last page and put the book away. I always have to know how something ends, but I refuse to suffer through bad writing to get there.
((Claire’s note: On Cate’s last point, that’s why we have these LOVELY PEOPLE called Editors, folks. Look into them. Find a cheap one. Save your book! Seriously, they are right when they say a writer’s best friend is an editor! I love all three of mine ^_^ ))
9. What was the last book you recommended to a friend? Why did you love it so much?
Well, I’ve recommended two in the last couple of days. One is The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Heiber (I’m proud of myself for remembering the title) and the other is The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker. The only thing the books have in common is genre, but I LOVE THEM BOTH. OMG. Percy is a gothic romance, and being the lover of Mary & Percy Shelly that I am, I fell in love immediately with the atmosphere, the characters, and Leanna’s writing. Her style is beautifully evocative, poetic almost, and Percy herself is such a different character than any I’ve read. She’s not the kick-ass heroine we find in YA. She has her own quiet strength, and her Albinoism makes her feel like an outcast. She’s…just amazing. The Roeckers’ Kate on the other hand? Total kick-ass chick, rocking pink hair and her dead BFF’s pearls. The Sisters Roecker weave a fantastic tale and a majorly awesome mystery that I could NOT put down. I refused to go to sleep until I got the whole story, and I can’t wait for the sequel next year!
10. Do you ever tell your friends if a book sucked?
Oh of course. Most of my friends are book nuts, so we share recommendations and things to avoid. I’m pretty sure I’ve bitched about Dracula to every friend I have.
11. If you think a book tanks, do you read it in hopes it gets better or do you stop reading it?
I try to give every book a chance, ESPECIALLY now that I know how hard it is to even write one, let alone get it published. I worked for ten years (off and on, of course) on my first novel, and the querying process is a sobering experience. Obviously someone saw the potential in books I consider bad. I won’t hold back my opinion, but out of respect for the author, I try to be fair. And yes, I try to finish.
12. Who’s your favorite author, and what would you ask them if you could meet them?
Anne Rice. She’s been my favorite since I was fourteen, when I first picked up Interview with the Vampire. Like Leanna, her style is beautiful. Her words are like poetry, and I’m always captivated by her characters. She paved the way for the True Bloods and *ahem* Twilights of the world, and though her vampires don’t sparkle (thank GOD), they carry with them the sorrows, the joys, and the tragedies of their lives as both human and vampire. I fell in love with Lestat through his novel, The Vampire Lestat. I mean, seriously, how many vampires become rock stars? If I could ask Anne one thing…oh wow. I’ve always fantasized about that, you know? I mean, what if I’d been at Comic-Con??? I’d probably have passed out. But if I could ask her one thing, I’d have to ask her what the hell she was thinking when they made the Queen of the Damned into a movie. Amazing soundtrack, but I almost walked out of the movie in the first ten minutes. That counts, right? 😀
((Claire’s note: Don’t hate me, I never read Anne Rice hehe. It’s on my to-do list though!))
13. What is your number one pet-peeve that writers do that you wish they didn’t?
I’m guilty of this too. My number one pet-peeve is copping out (YES BRAM STOKER). Here’s what annoyed me about Dracula. We have this really intense book–well, once you get past the journal entries and letters anyway–which I thought was going to lead up to this EPIC showdown between Dracula, Johnathon Harker, and Van Helsing. You just wait for it, breathless, for the entire book. What happens? They STAKE HIM IN DAYLIGHT. DAYLIGHT?!?! SERIOUSLY?! NO. I mean, granted the sun was going down, but you couldn’t give Dracula one last chance to get Harper? No? Really? Damn.
Kids, learn from Bram Stoker. Learn from Stephanie Meyer. Learn from the authors who have somehow let you down. If you’re gonna try your hand at writing, don’t take the easy road. I started my manuscript as a simple love triangle. My antagonist was a man who’d been in love with my MC. She spurned him. He changed her into a panther hybrid. Thank God it grew into what it is now. Not saying that simple love triangles aren’t great fodder–they are. BUT it’s not if it’s predictable and cliche. Think outside the box a little. That’s all I want. Please.
((Claire’s note: Funny you mention this, just downloaded it last night and am struggling with it hehe. Worth the read? And I respect writers like yourself who can self-criticize. I think that is also an important aspect of writing too, not everything you write is good. Learn from what stinks. I do this almost too much hehe. ))
14. What is your favorite thing that an author can do to enhance a story or character?
I like extras, admittedly. I guess it comes from being a major video game lover. If there’s a character description, or a map like Beth Revis’ Across the Universe has…then I’m all over it. Another thing is–and this seems like such a small thing, but it’s actually major–is to make the characters REAL. Not one dimensional, not black and white. Everyone has a gray area. I don’t like my heroes and heroines to be 100% goody-two-shoes all the time. Everyone has baggage. Everyone has ambition, and everyone has motives. Create a well-rounded character with issues, and I’m putty in your hands.
15. When you read, are you watching TV or doing something else too, or are you 100% focused on the book?
I’m one of those people who cannot have silence. EVER. It freaks me out and makes me nervous. I’ll have the TV or radio on for background noise, but my attention is totally on the book. (I multi-task 😉 )
16. Does your mind wander on other things while reading, or does it wonder to the story you’re reading?
It stays on the story unless I get bored with it. When I get engrossed in a book, the outside world disappears and I become engulfed by the story.
17. Where do you prefer to read, library, home, coffee house or outside? And do you read via an e-book or old school hard copy?
I read wherever I can, whenever I can. I prefer to be at home, curled up on my couch with a blanket. Sometimes I’ll read by candlelight. If I’m out of my house, I typically have a purpose.
Haha, I think I’ve answered this one a few times over.
19. Do you drink coffee or tea while reading? If so what’s your favorite kind?
Neither. Depending on the time of day and outside temperature, I might have some hot chocolate. But I’m fairly certain I bleed Mt Dew by now, thus resulting in some highly caffeinated vampires.