A Gentleman and a Rogue

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's all about Reading

Well, I thought I'd continue talking about the books and genres I like to read. One of the earliest authors I discovered was Victoria Holt. (My friend Idgy turned me on to her.) But another author I discovered early on was VC Andrews.

I discovered VC Andrews when I was in high school. The first book I read of hers was "Flowers in the Attic." "FLOWERS" had a very Gothic feel to it, but Andrews added a twist - a secret that was unbearable. Uncomfortable. Taboo.

From Wikipedia, VC Andrews was born on 6 JUN 1923 (Hey, June 6 is my birthday, too!) and she died on 19 DEC 1986, due to breast cancer. She was 63.

Contining from Wikipedia...

Andrews' novels combine gothic horror and family saga revolving around family secrets and forbidden love (frequently involving themes of consensual incest, most often between siblings), and they often include a rags-to-riches story. Her best-known novel is the infamous bestseller Flowers in the Attic (1979), a tale of four children locked in the attic of a wealthy Virginia family by their estranged religious grandmother for over three years.

Today, work under her name continues to be published, but it is a ghost writer that is writing the stories. The novels that are contributed to her are the Dollanger (Flowers) series.

What was the appeal of Flowers in the Attic?

For me, I loved that it was "readable." I kept turning the pages. I didn't want to put the story down. Not only was her style highly readable, but her characterization was spot on. I wanted to get to know her characters. Through her writing, she made her unspeakable acts almost bearable, sympathic even.

So that's where I was in 1986. Hooked on VC Andrews and Victoria Holt. Both of them had Gothic writing in common.

After that, I joined the army and reading took a back seat. I read a bunch of comic books while in the army. I enjoyed such titles as the X-Men and Legion of Superheroes. About the only author I read while in the army and developed a passion for was Anne Rice.

I read Rice's Lestat Vampire series and enjoyed them. My favorite Anne Rice book is "The Witching Hour." (At one point I wanted to name my daughter Rowan, but my husband would never go for it.)

Again, from Wikipedia:

Anne Rice (born Howard Allen O'Brien on Oct. 4th, 1941) is a best-selling American author of gothic and religious-themed books. She was married to poet and painter Stan Rice for 41 years until his death in 2002. Her books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history.

There's that word - gothic again.

Surprisingly, I also discovered Victoria Holt again - as Jean Plaidy. I read "Queen in Waiting" in 1988 about Caroline, the wife of George II and I felt in love with Plaidy and British royality.

I got out of the army in 1997, but I didn't really read. I continued with my comics until about 2000. It's only been recently that I've taken to reading again. Why?

Because reading everything you can get your hands on helps you expand as a writer.

I've always enjoyed a good romance. Romance writers I enjoy include:
Jillian Hunter
Judith McNaught
Lisa Kleypas

I LOVE historical fiction. This goes hand-in-hand with my love for Jean Plaidy.
Alison Weir is my go-to author when it comes to royality.
I also enjoy Phillipa Gregory.

I enjoy a good biography. Some of my auto/biographies include:
Julie Andrews
Cynthia Lennon
Charles Schultz
Barak Obama

Some recent books I've read which I've enjoyed:
Push Not the River & Against A Crimson Sky by James Conyrod Martin
The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer. What I like about Meyer is how "readable" she is. I find myself flipping pages and before I know it, I'm 200 pages into the novel.
The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. Again, she's very "readable."
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostov.
The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield

Do you see a bit of a "gothic" theme going on here? (grin) Surprisingly, I have yet to tackle a gothic tale in my own writing.

Anyway, I'd love to hear some of your favorite authors. Share.
Smiles,
Steph

7 comments:

  1. 911 Dispatcher, eh? That's not stressful. This was fun.. I always enjoy hearing what other people are reading.

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  2. Steph--you mentioned one of my favorites, although her books are old, now.Judith McNaught. I think her books are being re-relased with new covers, but they were written in the 80's and 90's. She has a wonderful way of drawing you into the feeling and emotions of the characters. I alway mention LaVyrle Spencer--she retired years ago, and now hers, too, are being re-released. Her books are a study in the exact way to write romance--I have all 26 and actually study them.Nice blog--you did a superb job of researching. And good luck--my blog is new, too--I love blogs. Celia

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  3. Clover, For me being a 911 dispatcher is not very stressful, but to some, the stress can be overwhelming. The actual success rate of a class is around 50%.

    Celia, good luck with your new blog. (smiles) I would like to read more McNaught books, but I need to do a little research on other books she's written. "Once and Always," and "Whitney, My Love" were recommended to me by a friend.

    Another romance author I enjoyed was Rebecca Brandywyne (not sure on the spelling) She wrote "On a Moon Dark Moor" and "Across a Star Lit Sea."

    I'll look into LaVyrle Spencer. Could you recommend a book?

    Smiles,
    Steph

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  4. Hi Steph! Nice post. I can see gothic authors are a real fav of yours. I read Victoria Holt as a teen and loved her. I liked the edgy feeling of gothics and the romance. That's what eventually tipped my hand toward writing romantic suspense. Some authors I devored in my initial reading frenzy: Jude Devereax, Julie Garwood, all iterations of Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora and later her JD Robb alias.

    Great topic!

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  5. Maggie, I haven't tackled romantic suspense yet, but it is something I'm dabbling with on my sequel, "Twilight Over Moldavia," (to "The Wolf's Torment") I agree - I liked the edgy feeling of the gothic and romance genres combined. I haven't read any of the authors you mentioned, but I have heard they are masters. Again, is there a book you'd like to recommend?

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  6. Victoria Holt has to be one of my all-time favorite authors. I also got into her in highschool. I beleive I have read all of her books under that name, almost all of them under Phillipa Carr (although, I read them out of order,as they were harder to find.)
    I also enjoyed some of her books under Jean Plaidy, although they aren't as easy a read. I do love the way she writes biographies of sorts, but fictionalized. (not sure the writer's name for this.) The one about Marie Antoinette & Queen Victoria were favorites.
    I'm really not into other romance novels that I used to like when I was a teen.. Historical smut, not sure the proper name.

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  7. I never read any of Holt's work as Phillipa Carr. I think I'd like too. I'll have to put her on the list. Historical smut. Haha. Smiles, Steph

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