Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fiction Writers, What Kinds of Worlds Do You Create? Flat or Three Dimensional?

I do love me a book that draws me into a living breathing world. My reading pleasure seems to double when the pleasure drops unexpectedly into my lap. Case in point: Martin Cruz Smith's Rose. It's not fantasy. Just a fabulous Mid-Victorian mystery set in Wigan, Lancastershire, with plenty of twists and red herrings to keep you guessing, Oh, the clues are well marked along the way but there are so many suspects with so many guilty secrets, including the missing cleric whose disappearance must be solved.

Wracked by malaria, Jonanthan Blair, a disgraced mining engineer, accepts a commission to find a missing curate, who happens to be the fiance of his former boss, a bishop, lord-of-the-manor, and mine owner. If he's successful, Blair can return to Africa to find new gold mines under the imprimatur of the bishop's commercial interests. As he searches for the cleric, all clues lead back to Rose, one of the Wigan pit girls who is the linchpin that holds the plot together until the twisty ending.

Cruz Smith is known for his research. At least, a lot of reviewers reference it. What they don't say so much is the sensual way he uses that background to create a touchable, smellable, gritty world. Can't remember one info-dump in the whole story ... and this is a historical novel that's true to its period.  He writes  good fight scenes too,  using brass-tipped clogs no less, something that was new to me.

One apt quote that had me laughing outloud: "Leveret handed him an envelope as covertly as if he were passing French postcards." It's a beautiful example of Victorian hypocrisy.

For me though, it's the multiple-dimensional characters that shine. All writers know the drill of creating living characters -- describe them, list three memories, set goals, set conflicts and give them a tic or two. Cruz Smith goes way beyond Characterization 101. Even his sadistic villains exhibit well-layered motives ... and the plotline is filled with villains of many ilks.

The book appeared out of the bowels of the basement as we tried to clear tradeable and donateable books from the shelves. Now I have mixed feelings because Rose is so well-crafted. Cruz Smith deserves his reputation if his other books are as well done. Unfortuantely, I don't often read in his genre. 


This is a five star book, in case you want a commitment.
Still don't know if it's a keeper.

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Doesn't time pass fast when you're having fun?

Don't usually pay attention to milestones. I know I missed the fact when I posted my 300th blog. This is my 350th. Basic question running through my mind at the moment: Why I'm still here. Guess I can't shake bad habits. ... I consider this blog sort of like talking to myself even though the stats say between 75-100 page views happen. My highest view rate? 875.

Hey, other bloggers out there.
How many blogs have your written? 
Or, did you give up somewhere along the way?

Another fun statistic: My author website now ranks under 900,000 according to Alexa. I think I need to revamp it, though, because I can't see where it's helping me sell my novellas.


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