Monday, June 21, 2010

My Th1rteen R3asons Why...Well, Really Only Seven

Recently, I read a slew of novels that had me looking at the world outside my own little corner of the Seventh Circle of Hell a bit differently. I can't say that they changed my life, HOWEVER they did get me to thinking. Each one had me wondering about some little aspect of life that I had previously taken for granted.

And THAT got me to thinking about my writing. Leave it to a writer to take anything at all and turn it into a fantastical tale in their own mind ;)

So, instead of regaling you all with yet another Neighbor Man tale of ridiculousness, I am going to give you a list...My Reasons Why...why I write, why I blog about my lunatic family, why I am the person I am. And, I will be using the books that I have read throughout my life as a sort of reason guide. Why? Because I'm a writer, dammit, and writers can't help but talk about books 24/7.

So sit back and enjoy everyone, and don't worry. We will resume our regularly scheduled Neighbor Man programming next week!

1. STRANGERS by Dean Koontz...I started reading when I was just a wee little one...like 4 or 5. This was the first "adult" book that I had read (at the age of 8), and I was hooked. It was at this point that I truly believed that my destiny was to grow up to be a female version this amazing writer. Now, I am *cough* years old, and I still love Mr. Koontz's work, but I realize that I will never be him, nor do I want to. I write like me. No one else.

2. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen...If you know me, you know that I am most definitely NOT a fan of romance novels. Not that I mind romantic elements in novels, but I don't really want it to be the main storyline. I want a homicidal maniac on the loose, or an epic battle between good and evil, or even a family tragedy that brings the two lovers together. So, why is this my favorite book of all time? One that I read even before I discovered Mr. Koontz? Because there is no better heroine than Miss Elizabeth. She is strong, smart, and above all, independent. She is not some simpering damsel in distress. She is her own woman. Basically, she is the kind of heroine that I can get behind, someone who knows her own mind and is not easily dissuaded from it.

3. THE DEATH OF IVAN ILLYCH by Leo Tolstoy...Forget WAR AND PEACE. Forget ANNA KARENINA. This was the tale of his that I instantly fell in love with. A short story that I picked up in the U of M pavilion my Freshman year, I read it in one afternoon, and it changed my life...my writing life that is. If you have not read this story, you must find it. It's a heartbreaking tale of a man's last days as he tries so very hard to conceal the true depths of his suffering from his loved ones simply because he does not want to cause them any further distress. This was the book that had me believing that I could and would write a novel just as touching and poignant.

4. THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice...yes, vampires. Did you really believe this list would not have any? Obviously, you were wrong. I read this (the second in her Vampire Chronicles) when I was in eighth grade, and was instantly hooked. Yes, I have read all her other books, vampire or not. This was the first book I'd read--outside of Sweet Valley High and RL Stine's Fear Street--that was in a series. I knew from that moment on that I wanted...no needed to write a series. Really, how many times have you finished a novel and wondered what would happen to those characters next? I know I have!

5. SUZANNE'S DIARY FOR NICHOLAS by James Patterson...I love all kinds of books. Seriously. I read everything from YA to suspense to memoirs, but before this novel came out, I was under the terribly misguided notion that I had to choose one genre in which to write and stick to it. But then, something wonderful happened. Mr. Patterson came along and said, "No, Karla. Write whatever is in your heart and needs to be put to paper. Just look at me! Who would have thought that I'd write anything besides the suspense/mysteries that I am known for?" Okay, well maybe he didn't call me up and say that, but with this novel, that was the message I got loud and clear. Do you here me, James? I got you message!!

6. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher...This is the book on this list that I've read most recently. A haunting tale of a teenager who believed no one was listening, but was so upset with those she felt were somehow at fault with her own unhappiness that she sent our her suicide "note". If you have not read this, you MUST. Beautifully written, and by far the best novel I have read in a very long time :)

7. LUCKY by Alice Sebold...One of the first memoirs I read that I did not have to read for school. This was written before her mega-blockbuster THE LOVELY BONES came out, and it spurred me into writing. I know it sounds weird. Hello? I've never really had that kind of tragedy touch my life, but Ms. Sebold wrote this account so well that I felt as though it was ME that all this had happened to. I came away from this book with the realization that all good tales must feel real to the reader, whether the story is true or not, it must feel that way.

So there you have it, friends...my Monday Funday list of why I write the way I do and the things that I do. What about you? I'd love to hear in the comments!