I started this blog with one idea but the words weren’t flowing. Then I tried another idea but once again it was like pulling teeth. (I’ve never pulled a tooth but I assume it’s a hard task to accomplish). The first idea was how I come up with character names and the second one was about rejection. (Once again rejection had come knocking on front door). I have thoughts and experience with both of these topics but I was struggling to put words on paper. I took a break and sat in my creative chair, a recliner in my office where I do most of my creative thinking.
I started doodling ideas and developed more thoughts on the above topics but still wasn’t feeling it. I looked around the room and my eyes settled on The Hardy Boys’ Detective Handbook. I’ve had that book since I was 9 or 10. I started thinking about what my reading habits were like and how they started.
Here’s my path to what I read today.
From a very young age I was a rabid reader. From Dr. Seuss to chapter books to Landmark bios.
Like a lot of people, my introduction to reading mysteries was through The Hardy Boys series. I wanted to be Frank or Joe Hardy, solving crimes (hence the Detective Handbook) and having big adventures. I had quite a collection but sold them before moving to California. I still kick myself about that.
At some point my mother, also a huge reader, loaned me one of her Agatha Christie book’s, The Big Four, a Hercule Poirot novel. I was hooked. I loved the puzzle aspect and both Poirot and Miss Marple became my best friends. Afterwards I’d discuss what I read with my mother and we’d tell each other when we figured out who the killer was. She was better at it then me. At least that’s the way I remember it.
When I moved to Los Angeles, of course I started reading Raymond Chandler. There was a who-done-it aspect to his books, but at that time in my life, it more about the his use of language and writing style. From there I devoured Hammett and later Ross Macdonald. I loved PI books, especially written in the first person. I continued my PI cravings with the Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker. His books influenced my current writing style, especially by the witty dialogue. I’m not saying I’m successful at it, but I try.
Then I found Michael Connelly. Even though Bosch ‘s investigative techniques closely resemble that of a PI, the main focus was on crime drama story. It was the why’s that mattered now, not so much of the who. From there I started reading more crime drama, some with a little drama and small crimes and some with the crime as the central element.
Today I read many books at once. By my nightstand are a bunch of books which are most likely a crime drama or thriller. If the last book I read was very dark I usually follow it up with a cozy or two. I’m also usually reading a non-fiction book and lately they’ve had to do with performing magic. But sometimes they’re bios of people in history. I like to take baths so I definitely have a cozy sitting on the edge of the tub. If I fire up my Kindle, I’m regularly reading a book there, cozy or noir but mostly likely I’m also reading a book about writing. With all this reading going on I still read short stories from anthologies and mystery magazines, especially if a friend has written one. I try to read in the morning and before bed. Occasionally I’ll carve out a little time and read in the afternoon, the one time I’ll read and probably not fall asleep.
I like my reading life. The several hundred books in my to-be-read pile agree.
What kind of books did you first read? What is your reading life like now?
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Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not –An Unreliable Anthology. His story, Seth’s Big Move will appear in the Last Exit to Murder anthology in the spring of 2017. He’s expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner. http://www.stephenbuehler.com