October reading…

A couple of weeks ago I decided on little more than a whim to take a dip into the well of nostalgia and reread an old favourite ‘Pawn of Prophecy’. It a book I first read when I was a teenager in the middle of my epic fantasy stage. As I am in my fifth decade, that was along time ago, but in fairness that was not the last time I read it, its a book and a series I have fallen back into about once a decade. Every time I do I half expect it to disappoint me, yet it never does. There is however a few problems with ‘Pawn of Prophecy’….

Plot wise the five book The Belgariad and its five book sequel The Malloreon could be described as a little trite. Hidden Heir stories always are. But what keeps me coming back in the characters and the interactions between them. Quite frankly I love the characters, even though each individual main character is a caricature of fantasy land characters, the sarcastic thief, the hulking berserker, the wise old wizard, etc. The characters still feel well rounded and interesting. There are a host of other things that seem predictable and a tad hackneyed even, yet even knowing the story, knowing the characters , and knowing everything that happens in these books I still find myself picking up the books every decade or so and reading them again. And every time I do I have to read all 12 books (there are two others after the two series) because I genuinely love these books and love getting lost in David & Lynn Eddings world and characters.

This is a problem…

The problem being that unlike going back an rereading a Terry Pratchett novel, or one of my David Gemmell’s, or picking up a classic like Fahrenheit 451, a big fantasy series, and this is a particularly big one, becomes a reading time sink. As such, while I indulge in nostalgia, with the occasional scribbled note about character interaction (as its the interactions between characters that make this series) as its hard as a writer to switch off that part of my brain when reading, my reading pile of new books has started to stack up.

Now that’s not a bad thing, I always have a stack of books to read, but it still gets a little bigger every few days. It is also a matter of balance, one of the most important skills a writer needs is reading. A writer does not just read for pleasure, which is not to say that reading is not a pleasure, but to expand there toolkit (hence the comment about making notes on character interactions). The greater the breathed and depth of your reading the more tools you find yourself able to play with. Rereading old books can be as useful as reading new ones, more in some ways as I tend to be more analytical when I reread old books these days, but reading something entirely has the capacity to send you off on entirely new tangents of thought and imagination.

The problem is however, on top of all the other books in my reading pile I have two new books from a couple of my favourite people as well as authors, because as part of a growing community of indie authors that is slowly spanning the globe I am exposed (for want of a better word) to the novels and worlds of some fabulous authors outside the mainstream of supermarket paperbacks. I always look forward to these books from any of my fellow indie writers. Yet they are sitting in the fallow pile waiting for me to finish the series I am reading, which has left me feeling a tad guilty (which is clearly ridiculous, but I’m a ridiculous kind of person.) I feel all the more guilty as it is #IndieOctober a made up festival of indie writers, made up by me of all people, which I use to try and help indie writers find an audience, and grow a readership by letting them post guest blogs and doing lost of reviews and other things indie writer relates through out the month of October (I did this last year and it was quite successful) So I feel I should be reading these indie books I have on my reading pile…

This is all a tad ridiculous, the obligation to read these two books is entirely self-imposed, and its not as if I don’t want to read them… I just want to finish the last four and a half books of the Belgariad/Malloreon first… But that may take a while, the last two are particularly long novels… I am also entirely sure neither Craig or Nils will be offended that I want to finish other things before reading their books, yet I still feel guilty…

Self-imposed obligations are the worst…

I’ll just need to find more reading time. damn you sleep, why are you required?

As a side note, as well as loving indie writers, I have a soft spot for indie publishers, so as it is #indieOctober a little mention of them too. I often mention 6E publishing, as they are personal friends, produce the Harvey Duckman anthologies and importantly are are just fabulous people. Sloth Comics are also seem to be particularly good people, but that maybe because I love Hopeless Maine… But the special mention today is for Inspired Quill, as I decided to buy Craig Hallam’s latest novel direct from the publisher, mainly on a whim and because Amazon make enough money out of me. Supporting small press publishers is important to me because they support indie writers, and care more about the books than the money. But its also such a nice experience when they send you a free bookmark along with the book , and a hand written note… Bless there cotton socks… It brought a extra little smile to my face.

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