This Summer’s Three Favorite Reads and What They Taught Me

Gaiman coverSeraphinaHolly Black

My three favorite reads this summer were The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, and The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

Neil, Rachel, and Holly, thank you – you not only captivated, thrilled, and entertained me with your wonderful stories but, by your example,  you proved to be wonderful writing teachers. Here’s what I learned.

Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
Omniscient POV
headshot neil gaiman
– Make sure there’s tension with very high stakes from the get-go.
– Cleverly reveal characters and events in ways that allow readers to put together clues and figure out for themselves what is happening, like an inside secret between author and reader.
– Do a little historical research then let your imagination soar.

Rachel Hartman – Seraphina
1st Person POV
headshot rachel hartman
– Know your world so well you don’t have to explain it. Start the story in a way that reveals your alternate world in all of its differentness without confusing the reader.
– Have a clear understanding of the desires and weaknesses of each of your characters, not just the main ones, so that each one shows growth by the end of the story.

Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the Forest
3rd Person POV
headshot holly black
– Set up the story in vivid detail, making the reader think they’re stepping into a normal teen world but then gradually revealing that this is not, in fact, a normal world at all. That kind of creeping revelation is so satisfying.
– Be a keen observer of human nature.

Three Books. Which Should I Read First?

Three Books - Which One First

My first mistake was to get, not one, not two, but three delicious novels all on the same day.  Each has exactly the kind of lyrical, sweep-me-off-my-feet writing I’m in the mood for. Each features a fabulous opening passage and is highly recommended.

Now for my quandary:  Which novel do I read first? Fellow bibliophiles, you haven’t steered me wrong yet.  The nominees for first book to read are:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Though I’m not usually a reader of werewolf stories, Stiefvater’s artsy tweets tipped me over the edge.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – I’ve read so many fabulous reviews of this book, just had to get it.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – Can you believe I’ve never read a Margaret Atwood book? Not even the Handmaiden’s Tale. It was time.