Friday, October 5, 2018

Reading to Each Other

When I was in Oregon at my sister’s on holiday, I rediscovered the pure pleasure of reading to each other. I’d been raving to her about Naomi Novik’s fantastic Temeraire series. At my recommendation, she downloaded the first book. One afternoon while sitting on her deck trying to catch a breeze in the hundred degree plus heat, I asked if she’d like me to read to her. To my surprised she said, “oh, I love to be read to.” That was all it took. I was off. 

I know I’ve already fan-girled about Temeraire all over OGaG, but reading it out loud, reading it TO someone and seeing their first time response to the wonderful scenes I know are coming was like experiencing it all brand new. 

That got me thinking about reading out loud. It’s something I’ve always done on my final rewrite of my own novels because things that don’t sound right often don’t read well to readers either. Plus, once again, it’s a way of seeing my own work afresh – always helpful. 

Taking that one step further, ever since I got over my initial terror of that first time, I’ve loved to do readings from my novels for an audience. A huge part of the fun is making whatever I read, even if it’s only five minutes worth, come to life. That’s even more fun when what I’m reading to my audience is erotica, and I know I’m making them a little bit uncomfortable. Like all writers, I want people to love the stories I tell as much as I do. I want my characters to be as alive to them as they are to me. I want them to be as gripped by the plot as I was when I wrote it. I discovered, as I sat on the deck breathing in the delicious high desert air, that I absolutely loved being able to bring Temeraire and Lawrence to life for my sister’s entertainment. And, as I totally expected, she was gripped. 

For the next week, we giggled about sneaking some quality time with the dragon. When we weren’t reading, we often discussed the plot as it unfolded and I gave her little teasers about what was to come. Our afternoon coffee time quickly became afternoon reading time, and I discovered I was just as enthralled with the novel as I had been when I first read it. If anything, knowing what was coming as I did only excited me more – especially when I couldn’t wait to see my sister’s response to the plot as it unfolded. By day three, she got bold enough to take her turn at reading to me. We were halfway through the second novel before I left. 

The pleasure of reading out loud to each other shouldn’t come as any real surprise. For centuries people who could read read out loud. Up until the 17th century, reading was not the silent pleasure it is today. While I’m the first to say I could curl up with a good book and never leave my cave, I’m also the first to say that I have loved being read to since I was a child. As I said, the art of reading to others came much later for me when I began doing readings from my own books for an audience. Reading as a communal experience, reading as an almost magical ritual of bringing a story and its characters to life, should not be a lost art. It’s too much of a bonding experience, too much of an imaginative journey. I’ve even had a number of couples get in touch with me to let me know that they have had some seriously sexy bonding time reading The Initiation of Ms Holly, or The Pet Shop together. Some were even enthusiastic enough to roll play some of the characters. 

While I can’t actually read out loud to you on OGaG, I am as always, happy to share with you my most recent reads. 

The Truth about Rumpelstiltskin

I have a habit of finding an author I love and reading everything they have ever written. And since Naomi Novik is a goddess to me, I was elated when Spinning Silver was released. The novel did not disappoint. If you enjoy fairy tales revisited, you’ll love Spinning Silver. Like everything else Novik has written, Spinning Silver is gripping from the first paragraph right on to the last as she shares the truth about Rumpelstiltskin through the eyes of Miriam, the money lender’s daughter, whose power to “spin silver” draws the attention of two of the badest baddies in Slavic fairy tale and myth. 

Paranormal Panspermia with a Reverse Harem Twist

Oh I adore series! Give me a ten or twelve book tale and I’m in heaven. I just finished book three of Pippa Da Costa’s Messenger Series, The Nightshade’s Touch. While the beginning was a bit slow, mostly with a little too much recap from the previous novel, I’m so glad I stuck with it. If Fae in space, or protofae excited me, imagine how thrilled I was to discover protovamps as well. And when Kesh Lasota, the main character, is in a stormy, hormone laced, chemistry-driven battle to save the inhabited planets with the help of one of each, how can it not be a fun read. 

More Fae the YA Way

At the moment I’m reading Holly Black’s The Cruel Princewhich came highly recommended from the Sarah J. Maas fan pages, which I spend a fair amount of time on. Am I the only one who finds that quite often YA is more sophisticated and more gripping, and often more sexy, than what’s out there for “grown-ups?” I have a theory that those of us who aren’t nostalgic for our angsty teen years, those of us who were happiest to leave our own coming of age far behind us, may very well enjoy today’s YA because it doesn’t try to paint those years as Happy Days and the best years of our lives. Maybe we enjoy it so much because we get it. And reading about someone else navigating that minefield of coming of
age to come out on the other side, gives us hope. It certainly does me. 

The Cruel Prince is the story of Jude and her two sisters, whose parents are murdered by a Fae warlord, who then steals them away to live among the Fae and learn to survive in the dangerous Fae Court. Talk about a serious minefield for teenage angst! To find her place in a world in which she doesn’t belong, Jude willingly delves deeply into her own darkness, but what will it cost her? I’ll keep reading and let you know. 

Whatever you’re reading, enjoy. And if you get the chance, read it out loud to someone else and enjoy it even more.

1 comment:

  1. My parents also read to me. I think that had a lot to do with my sensitivity to language sounds and rhythm.

    However, I've never tried reading aloud to someone else, as an adult. I mean, I've done a few readings, but never with the attitude you have. I was always terrified, and saw the whole endeavor as marketing. Your spirit of fun sounds much more inviting.

    About YA fiction - I think authors are more free to explore out of left field ideas because the genre has not yet ossified - unlike romance and yes, erotica.


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