BOOK & BLOG
December 30, 2007
Books of the Week (many!)
It’s been a pleasure to start tackling the piles of books I DIDN’T get to read this year. Some of them have proved to be disappointments. Books don’t necessarily improve with the anticipation of reading them. But some have been real pleasures, just as I’d hoped.
Setting aside a few that were less than wonderful, let me mention Diana Gabaldon’s LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorite writers. Her books are so long and detailed and full of the results of careful research that they’re very rich to read, the literary equivalent of eating lots of chocolate cake. Gabaldon is such a skilled writer that the research never intrudes, which is quite a feat. THE HAND OF DEVILS is a collection of three Lord John novellas, two that have been published before and a completely new one. Lord John Grey, homosexual in an era that publicly pilloried homosexuals, member of a complex family, soldier in an era of war, is a great character. I’ve never been disappointed when I laid down one of Gabaldon’s novels, and I wasn’t disappointed with this one.
I also finished Carrie Vaughn’s KITTY AND THE SILVER BULLET. Vaughn’s gotten better with each book. Kitty the reluctant werewolf has grown in strength and resolution, matured into her new state, and become a much more interesting woman in consequence. I loved the fact that in the first book, she was such a subservient pack member; not all women are born to be kick-ass. But Kitty has changed with every book, and Vaughn’s writing style is growing noticeably more assured and confident with her well-deserved success.
Right now I’m re-reading WORLD WAR Z, Max Brooks’ book about the survivors of the zombie war. Reading the book for the second time, I’m struck anew with Brooks’ selection of characters, and it’s really intriguing to follow his process. This is a wonderfully innovative book, and I’m enjoying it all over again for different reasons.
The last Book & Blog of the year! I know I’ve been spotty in my posting, and I’ll try to do better in 2008 . . . my first New Year’s resolution. The quick pace of reading for the Edgars took me by surprise, and I felt I was scrambling to stay on top of the list for much of the year. One corner of my bedroom is still stacked with books, awaiting the final verdict of the committee. I’ve certainly read a lot of things I wouldn’t have read otherwise, and I think this has been good for me as a writer. Of course, I can’t discuss the workings of the committee or the decisions it reaches, but it’s been an honor to serve.
I’ll also be off the board of Mystery Writers of America, as of next month. It’s been an exciting two years, and I’ve learned a lot about how a large organization like MWA works, about getting along with other people on the board (not too hard, since they’re all intelligent and polite), and I’ve also reaffirmed how truly terrible I am on boards. I never come up with any original ideas; I only second other peoples’ proposals. Sure, the world needs “seconds,” but I feel awfully inadequate. Serving on the Sisters in Crime board should have taught me my lesson, but no, I inflicted myself on MWA as well. This time, maybe I’ll remember vividly enough to turn down any further offers I may receive.
My one remaining commitment is sitting on the vestry of my little church. I can’t do too much harm there. (For those non-Episcopalians, the vestry is the lay governing board of the church.)
What does 2008 hold? Who can know? But FROM DEAD TO WORSE will be out right on schedule, as far as I can predict. Next October, the second anthology Toni L.P. Kelner and I have edited, WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE, will be on the shelves. Toni and I have had wonderful luck with MANY BLOODY RETURNS, and we hope WOLFSBANE will be just as successful. The stories all deal with werewolves and Christmas. As we did with MBR, we solicited a great list of writers, about half mystery writers and half urban fantasy or science fiction writers, and once again, the result is really exciting. The story I contributed is a Sookie Stackhouse story, and I’m really pleased with the result. Aside from FDTW and WAM, I’ve written a short story (“An Evening with Al Gore”) for a Horror Writers of America anthology, and I’m on the verge of completing a novella for a collection tentatively titled MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS.
If the writers’ strike ever ends, 2008 should also see the debut of “True Blood.” With only three episodes filmed, there’s no way the series will begin airing on schedule. So keep your fingers crossed that the two sides can reach an agreement. This has been a long road, hasn’t it?
Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support in the past year. Dawn has been a great and patient website maven, BigMama has been a huge help to me, and Debi has been the best minion/moderator a writer could ever claim. SonofNorway has hung in there on the website, helping to moderate when many a lesser woman would have jumped ship. I appreciate all you ladies have done, and all the posters have done, to keep the board a civil and pleasurable place to visit. We’ll enjoy the new year together.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris