Thursday, 7 August 2014

Authors, be careful what you read...

Does what you read affect how you write?

I've just finished reading The Woman in the Picture by Katharine McMahon. This novel, following the life of a female lawyer, Evelyn Gifford, in the 1920s London, is written from the point of view of the heroine and very much in a formal style of the time.

I loved the book (gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, no less) and was so engrossed with Evelyn's trials and tribulations (excuse the pun), that when I went back to writing my current book, Oh England!, I found that I was using the language of the 1920's rather than the 1980's which is the time period of my novel.

It's not the first time that I've noticed this phenomena.  When in the middle of a new book I have to be very careful with the kinds of books, or genre I'm reading. Even the period of my reading matter can sometimes be detrimental to my writing. Same goes for reading books in another language; since I begun writing in earnest, I've had to give up on Finnish and Swedish books in their original language altogether. Sad, I know!

At times when - like now - I am in the crucial second part of the novel, I've had to suspend all reading of fiction all together.

Who would have thought that writing fiction sometimes forces you to stop reading it?

Do you find that you need to keep to your genre and time period when in the middle of a writing project, or as me, have to go cold turkey on reading all together?


westendmum said...

‘...but soft what light through yonder window breaks’, a little Shakespeare might mix up the 80's speak somewhat.
How exciting. Do let us know when you're published.

Chris West said...

I agree. I recently had to abandon an interesting Tim Parks book because I found it interfered with my writing 'groove'. There is a positive side to this, however. Some writers can provide a jolt of electricity when the batteries run flat. My short fiction alter ego, Lytchett Maltravers, finds Candide or 'Decline and Fall' infallible sources of energy.

Helena Halme said...


I'll blog about the new book as soon as it's out! (Try to stop me...) You can of course always sign up for News and Offers from me on the right hand side. ;-)


Helena Halme said...


How right you are - although my books aren't police dramas, I find it helps to read (or watch) Nordic Noir while I'm writing. Jo Nesbo is particularly inspiring!