To Read Or Read Again

Our bookshelves are sagging. One of these days they are going to fall forward, brackets pulled out of the wall by the weight of all the words.

We’ve taken lots of books to the thrift shop over the years. Some were awful, some were good, but not so good they became best friends. Those are on the shelves.

I know there are people who never re-read a book once it’s finished. But my family isn’t like that. When we find books that we love, we treasure them and read them over and over.

It’s like having a visit with a best friend you haven’t seen in a long time. They may tell you a story that you’ve heard many times over the years. But you want to sit with them, treasuring being in their presence again, even if you know how the story ends.

So which valued friends are weighing down my shelves?

Elizabeth Peters (and in her persona of Barbara Michaels). Mary Norton. Stephen King. Robert A. Heinlein. P.J. Parrish. L. Ron Hubbard. Agatha Christy. James Heriot. John Sandford. Victoria Holt. Elly Griffiths. James S. A. Corey. J.K. Rowlands. Winston Graham. Ann McCaffrey. David Weber. JRR Tolkien. Meg Gardiner. C. J. Box. Barry Lopez.

And on and on and on. I just pulled out a Harry Potter this morning. The book has been read by all three of us so many times that the binding is separating from the pages. Same with some of my Elizabeth Peters books that are almost thirty years old. Same with one book Brite and Fair by Henry Shute, which is almost a hundred years old and still makes me laugh out loud when I carefully turn the fragile pages.

A couple of the Elizabeth Peters books I’ve replaced with newer copies that are sturdier. But I still reach for the well-read ones. Because when I open the old ones, it’s not just the story. It’s the memories of all those who borrowed the book. It’s the finger smudges from all who have read it. It’s the treasures you find inside from dried flowers to breadcrumbs.

All things that show me the story is loved and part of a larger family.

So do you re-read books or are you unable to return to them after finishing?

And what old friends are on your shelves?

The Traveling Interview

Author Susan Schreyer ( asked if I would like to be part of a ’round robin’ author interview. The questions stay the same so you can follow the trail and see what each author thinks.

What are you working on right now?

Book #2 in the Mountain Mystery series, Sparrow’s Silence, is due soon. Book #3 is beginning to simmer in the depths of that space where ideas come from. Oddly enough, the first new character to spring to life is a troublesome dog. And then there’s this story in a different genre plaguing me.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Well, let’s see. Sparrow’s Silence is set in Wallace, Idaho, which is such a unique setting. One thing I strive for is a setting that becomes as important as the characters. I want the ‘place’ to be so real, that it pulls at you and haunts you. That’s what I like in books I read, too. I want to be swept away, not just by the plot and characters, but by wherever the author wants to send me.

What experiences have influenced you?

Moving to the woods was a huge influence. The mountains seem so mysterious. I just know there are endless stories up there in the areas few people go. Every time I try to write a story in a different landscape, say for instance the badlands where I have family, the story falls flat. If the setting doesn’t give rise to an almost homesickness for me, it sure won’t for the reader.

Why do you write what you do?

Well, the easy answer is because I love to read mysteries. The harder answer is that I love when a story pulls me in with questions. Not just plot twists, but character questions, too. I always want to know why things happen, why this person is who, and where they are.

How does your writing process work?

I have to say I envy Susan Schreyer, because she plots and outlines. That seems so organized and professional. I tried it once. And failed. I’m an ‘organic’ writer who always knows the very last line of the story. I may not know all the characters, I rarely know the plot. But I know how it is going to end. So writing becomes figuring out how to get to that ending.

What is the hardest part about writing?

Oh man, being able to find time. I want, and know I need, a set schedule. But just like my inability to outline, I also fail at schedules. I’m pretty good at setting aside weekend time, but I need more than that.

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

The non-mystery story I’m attempting is one with multiple points of view. I’ve never written that way, and am intimidated by the scope of multiple voices. I’m not sure I can pull it off, but at the same time even if it never gets published, it’s going to make me stretch and learn as a writer.

Who are the authors you most admire?

Elly Griffiths. She is a master at the haunting landscapes. Try her first book, The Crossing Places.

Elizabeth Peters. I’ve been reading her books for many years. I love all her series, but especially the Amelia Peabody books. These are written in first person, but she does a fantastic job showing the point of view character through the eyes of other characters, even in first person.

Meg Gardiner. All of her books, but especially the Evan Delaney series. Meg knows how to write action and tension and how to grab the reader immediately.

S.J. Bolton. I love how she keeps me wondering what is myth, what is fact, what is ghost story, what is real.

Then there are the authors I love to read: Carol O’Connell’s Mallory series, C.J. Box, Val McDermid, Sharyn McCrumb, P. J. Parrish’s Louis Kincaid series, and Patrick McManus. He writes mysteries, now, too, but when I want to laugh, I pull out his earlier essays on growing up with quirky characters. Try They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?

Who are new authors to watch out for?

Kaylan Doyle, Susan Shreyer, Lisa Harris. Wonderful writers. And then there are the poets, Sabrina and Pat. I’m not using their last names as they are not ready (in their minds) to be public. But when they send out their poems, you’re going to be blown away.

What scares you?

My son is now driving. Enough said.

And here, for those who want to continue with these travels, is a link to the next person to get interviewed, author Lisa Harris. Lots of humor, quirky characters, and romance…if you like that mix in mysteries you’ll like her writing.

Where did this little guy go?

Where did this little guy go?