Thursday, July 7, 2011

Richard Thomas, On Reading

"Part of what fuels me as a writer is the world around me. I need to get out into nature, interact with people, ride a subway train, or sit in a coffee shop. But I can't travel to Mars, or go back in time, I don't want to be a serial killer, or live in a van down by the river. So in addition to film and television, I read.

And I read a lot. So far this year, I've read 33 books. Part of that is because of my MFA program, and part of that is because of my book reviews at The Nervous Breakdown, but mostly it's my desire to find new voices, and to revisit old friends. And I read everything, I'm no snob. I'll read books off the NYT bestseller lists and I'll read books from tiny independent presses. Doesn't matter. I read just about every genre out there (sorry romance) from fantasy, science fiction and horror to neo-noir, literary and steampunk. I read big names like Stephen King and John Grisham, as well as new indie authors like Amelia Gray, Mary Miller, Lindsay Hunter, and xTx. I read dark fiction from people like Stephen Graham Jones, Benjamin Percy, Paul Tremblay, Brian Evenson, Craig Clevenger, and Craig Davidson and I read literary masters like George Saunders, Flannery O'Connor, and Mary Gaitskill. I read short story collections, and memoirs and non-fiction too. And don't forget graphic novels.

My point here is that whatever you write, read other genres. You can learn something from every style of writing. Pick up the tension that horror writers need. Study the narrative voices of literary giants. Pour over the technology that science fiction put before you. And learn to create new worlds in fantasy, or build on our own with magical realism.

And if you're not a writer, just a fan of writing, just a reader? First, God Bless you! But also, don't be afraid to expand your horizons. Some of the best books I read in 2010 were by authors that I had never even heard of before. Step outside your comfort zone.

I read for entertainment, I read to experience things I could never do in my real life, and I read to embrace the voices of other authors. There is nothing more intimate and personal than reading a book—the details and emotion fusing with your real life. I read for all of that, and more."

Richard was the winner of the 2009 ChiZine "Enter the world of Filaria" contest. His first novel, a neo-noir, speculative thriller entitled Transubstantiate, came out in 2010 (Otherworld Publications). He has published over 40 stories online and in print. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in such publications as Shivers VI (Cemetery Dance) with Stephen King and Peter Straub, Warmed and Bound (Velvet Press), Murky Depths, PANK, Pear Noir!, 3:AM Magazine, Word Riot, Dogmatika, Opium, and Vain. In 2011 he was awarded a residency at Writers in the Heartland. Richard was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and in his spare time writes book reviews at The Nervous Breakdown.}

1 comment:

  1. Chris Lewis CarterJuly 7, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Great stuff, Richard. Couldn't agree more.