I think often times a person’s first novel is the book they want to read–that nobody’s written. Steven Saylor. Italian-mysteries.com interview, May 13, 2004
“Read, read, read. That’s all you ever do.” I remember my sister saying this to me many times when I was a child. If you are like me you were part of the flashlight-under-the-covers club, either after lights out or early in the morning, or both. All the Charles Dickens in the library at age 11. Long before Dangerous Visions, all the hard-core science fiction at age 12. Age 16 was the Russian year—Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekov, Dostoyevsky.
I thought about Saylor’s comment last night—errr, early today—as I kept going one more paragraph until 2 AM. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Not the story outline but the actual actions taken by the characters and the words spoken. I couldn’t just leave. It was like a book I couldn’t put down.
Back to year sixteen, it’s New Year’s Eve I am reading Anna Karenina. Suddenly it is dawn and a new year. I wasn’t a virgin reader anymore; it was the first time I stayed up all night reading. Well, by golly, that’s the kind of book I want to write—one the reader does not put down until she is finished.
Without a great deal of reading—constant reading—a writer will have trouble knowing just what kind of story he wants to read and, more importantly, write.