I always have to remind myself when I’m reading an author I love that I can respect and admire them, enjoy the read, but that’s IT. I’m not looking for sympathy here or fishing for compliments, but so often, when I read a REALLY good book, I wish I could write like THAT author writes. I have to remind myself that what makes each author special is his unique voice, his take on stories. And I have my own voice. We all do, so no one should try to be like someone else.
The authors that I love, but are dangerous for me:
- P.J. Parrish and Louis Kincaid. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086MXN3FQ?binding=kindle_edition&searchxofy=true&ref_=dbs_s_aps_series_rwt_tkin&qid=1679854907&sr=8-4) Louis pulls me in every time I read him. He’s so HUMAN, flawed, complex, with more problems than anyone needs. And his cases are so bizarre. Too bizarre for me to ever write. Some of the villains are horrible monsters. Disturbing. I don’t want to come up with anyone that horrible. But every once in a while, I wish I had a character with as much angst as Louis has. Not the right main character for a cozy. But boy, am I hooked on him.
- William Kent Krueger with his Cork O’Connor series. ( https://www.amazon.com/Iron-Lake-Novel-OConnor-Mystery-ebook/dp/B000FC0QBQ/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3UGQ800W7QCPK&keywords=cork+o%27connor+series+books+in+order&qid=1679855033&s=digital-text&sprefix=cork+%2Cdigital-text%2C89&sr=1-3) Just like Louis, Cork is a complicated hero. I love some of his books more than others. Right now, I’m reading Trickster’s Point, and it’s AMAZING. Joan Hall is as hooked on him as I am, and she’s written great book reviews for the series: https://joanhall.blog/2021/07/27/book-review-iron-lake-by-william-kent-krueger/. Krueger’s Cork series is set in Minnesota, and he makes the landscape as much a part of the story as his characters. And then he adds Ojibwe Indian lore and teachings into the mix. Pretty darn fascinating. In cozies, authors try to make the setting a big part of the novel, too, but for a different reason. Cozies like to have a personal feel, so a setting where people know each other, where a community has a personality, is an important part of the tone of the book. In Krueger’s stories, the settings make the story more complicated. There’s no cozy feel to them at all.
- Julia Donner’s Regency Friendship series. (https://www.amazon.com/stores/Julia-Donner/author/B00J65E8TY?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true) First, I love Regencies. The dry wit. The complicated social intricacies. Buttons are important. So are coming-outs. Once you hit twenty-five, you’re a spinster. And everything is about social status and aristocracy. Like Jane Austen, Donner has heroines who thumb their noses at the rules of the day. I love that. I love even more the men who fall for them. Unlike Austen, Donner can get a lot steamy. But I’m reading them in my living room, so no one sees me blush but HH. And he doesn’t care.
- Mae Clair and her dual timelines: (https://www.amazon.com/Cusp-Night-Hodes-Hill-Novel-ebook/dp/B078LJX83X/ref=sr_1_8?crid=21QIPZWGK7F38&keywords=mae+clair&qid=1679855302&s=digital-text&sprefix=mae+clair%2Cdigital-text%2C89&sr=1-8) It’s not just the dual plots combining the past and the present that appeal to me, it’s her language and writing skills. She’s so lyrical, her writing so beautiful, it makes my teeth hurt. I’ll never be able to write like that. I’m a plot driven person, concentrating from going from point A to point B, so that poetic language gets lost most often. Like Elizabeth George and Alice Hoffman, I just love her use of words. But I have no pretensions that I can write like that. It will never happen.
- I love historical mysteries, but I’d always be afraid I’d screw up something small in them. Or worse, something big. They take SO MUCH research! But that’s why I admire Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series and P.B. Ryan’s Nell Sweeney series. Both ladies tell great mysteries with great characters and wonderful writing, but they’re set in past times. And I know that they do a lot of work to make sure they get everything right. My friend, D.P. Reisig, is in my writers’ group, and she’s writing a mystery with Abraham Lincoln trying to solve mysteries during his days as a lawyer, and she has more books for research than I’d ever believe possible. Nope, historicals are not for me. I’d always worry I messed something up.
I have many more authors that are auto-reads for me, but these are the ones I have to remind myself that I’m not them. They do what they do well, and I do my best at what I write. They’re them. I’m me. And I have to stay true to myself. It’s not safe to compare myself to other writers. I have to stay true to me.
BUT, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy all kinds of writers in lots of other genres. And I do, (especially Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.. Lots of action and magic). I hope you find lots of writers to love, too.