I was recently invited to promote one of my books on a website, specifically World of Ash, my dear, dear little apocalyptic baby. In the promo they wanted me to share some books I recommend for readers to enjoy that would be shelved next to WOA. Great concept, I love promoting other books, especially if it helps readers understand my books so they know if mine is one they would enjoy,
There was just one problem: I haven’t read any Dystopian, Apocalyptic, or Post-Apocalyptic books in ages.
I realized any books I would be recommending would be 5 to even 10 years old. That really had me hung up for awhile. One, would people want to hear about books that weren’t the hot new thing? And two, when had I stopped reading these genres?
Of course there’s nothing wrong with reading older books. And considering most of the books we read in our formative years are decades, if not centuries old, 5-10 years old is nothing. So I did write my post and I focused on some of the books I read around the time I got the inspiration for WOA, explaining why each of these books spoke to me.
But it got me thinking about how I’ll become obsessed with one particular genre and I’ll consume multiple titles over the course of months or years all shelved in the same places and then, just suddenly, poof! No more.
In high school I read a lot of sword and sorcery. A lot of Mercedes Lackey and her contemporaries. Her Elemental Masters would greatly influence my first series, The Elemental Series. Nothing at all like her books, being modern day and teenagers, but still, influenced. I also read my way through most of Anne Rice’s catalogue, gotta love me some vampires and witches!
In college I found a taste for some contemporary romance, probably because they were a good, easy escape from all of my college texts.
After college I found my way back to vampires and witches, discovering paranormal romance and devoured all of the Laurell K Hamiliton books, Keri Arthur, Jeaniene Frost, Patricia Briggs, and Kim Harrison. I mean. I could have opened a tiny used bookstore with just their books alone.
Then, as my bookshelves sagged under the weight of their lengthy series, I found YA. And yes, it was Twilight. You can hate, that’s okay. I had a very bad flu over the course of two weeks and I needed something I could escape into, that didn’t ask me to think too hard to follow complicated plots, and was long enough to fill the time. My dear husband went back to the store for each books as I finished them. And, thanks to Twilight, I realized I wanted to read more fantasy YA. And thank goodness I did because that would lead to my writing career.
Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, Lauren DeStefano, Veronica Roth took me through beautiful fantasy realms, new magic systems, and wonderfully flawed but strong female leads. From there I wandered into Steampunk and with grabby hands added Kady Cross’s beautiful covers to my bookshelves.
For a long time I really only read fantasy but eventually I would find a love for cozy murder mysteries, especially Gretchen McNeil and Charlaine Harris (she does more than steamy vampires!).
Then, of course, zombies became all the rage and I found my way into apocalyptic books, which would lead me to Dystopia, which I would find people tended to conflate the two but they are different!
Somewhere in all of that I still read all the Harry Potters, most of Neil Gaiman’s library, and any number of books that are somewhere in my memory now. But I defintetly get hooked on one genre and read it until I am sick of it.
Surprisingly, as much as I love a murder documentary, a paranormal thriller, and a good horror movie (not gore!), I have yet to find a book in that same genre that can captivate me. I think I need the dark room, the ominous music, the silence, for that magic to work and you can’t exactly do that with a book. So I want the fantastical world, the tension of mystery, and the beautiful words for my books.
It’s strange to look back over a reading journey and realize just how vast and varied our tastes run. Maybe that’s why I have three different genres out there in my works. I’ve yet to master sword and sorcery in writing, and I don’t know if I ever plan to, but I am looking forward to seeing what else my reading and writing muses have in store for me.