Thursday, March 27, 2014

What do writers read? Bestsellers reveal all!

Image: zoetnet via Flickr/Creative Common
In my continuing quest to blow your minds, I again present three very different authors whose answers to the same questions may surprise you.

Sydney Landon is a New York Times bestseller-listed author of romances, including the Danvers series; David C. Cassidy’s books, including Velvet Rain and Fosgate’s Game, defy categorization but might be called “speculative fiction” (but isn’t all fiction, by definition, speculative? Isn’t fiction a form of speculation?). And Patricia Sands is the award-winning author of The Bridge Club and The Promise of Provence.

Name three characteristics of books that you like.

Sydney Landon: Humorous dialogue, a strong introduction and a realistic plot.

David C. Cassidy: For me, a story has to have depth and feeling. It’s got to have characters I love, and those I love to hate. Above all, it’s got to be real. When you strip away all the obviously impossible stuff, the story has to hit me with reality at some point. The danger, the struggle — it has to be something I can feel. The best stories do that. Avatar would be just another sci-fi adventure without the deep-rooted threat to the indigenous people of Pandora — the threat to their core beliefs. For me, that’s gold, and James Cameron is a master at this kind of storytelling.

Patricia Sands:
  • A compelling style that immediately engages.
  • Strong imagery that draws me into the emotion of the scene, setting or location.
  • Creativity that captures the imagination.

What makes you keep reading a book?

Patricia Sands
Patricia Sands: All of the above (answer #1), plus a good plot and well-developed characters.

Sydney Landon: Connecting with the characters. Otherwise, I lose interest and have a hard time finishing.

David C. Cassidy: The characters. Whether they’re larger than life or just the guy selling hot dogs on the street, I’m always observing characters in books and movies. I watch. I listen. I learn. The best books have all those little nuances in the characters that make me want to follow them to the bitter end.

What are some books that you weren't able to put down until you finished them?

David C. Cassidy: Abarat by Clive Barker; The Thief of Always by Clive Barker; In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom; Salem’s Lot by Stephen King.

Sydney Landon:  Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James; The Faces of Evil series by Debra Webb.

Patricia Sands: There are few books that I begin and don't finish.

Do you consciously try to emulate these books? If so, what form does that take: plot, structure, characters, settings, author's voice and word choice?

Patricia Sands: No, not consciously. However, I know that the more I read, the more I become aware of incorporating the traits I admire of other writers into my own style.

Sydney Landon: No. I believe every author has a certain style and that generally comes through no matter what. 

David C. Cassidy: It might be the sincerest form of flattery, but I don’t consciously do it. I would say most authors don’t, but I would also say that unconsciously, we probably do. It’s natural to emulate those we admire. I’m a photographer, and the only way I became the creative photographer that I am was by studying photographs of the photographers I admire. That didn’t mean I went out and copied their style. It meant that I learned new ways of thinking — new ways of looking at the same subject. Some of my biggest influences in writing have come from three very different authors: Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Mitch Albom — and I’m probably a hybrid of all three to some degree. I’ve studied their work and a lot of other authors from different genres, and have tried to incorporate their techniques in all facets of my writing. Not by copying strict rules or things that they’ve done, but rather their way of thinking or looking at the world and the characters who inhabit them in different and unique ways.

Do you try to avoid any of the techniques or conventions followed by your favorite writers?

David C. Cassidy: For me, each story has a different feel to it—the writing has a different feel to it. I just write it. I don’t worry if someone sees or doesn’t see similar techniques used by other authors. You can’t shackle yourself by saying, “Oh crap, King did this like this.” Why? Because at one point, King probably said, “Oh crap, Poe did this like this.” And Poe probably said, “Damn that Shakespeare. He took all the good stuff.”

Patricia Sands: No. Many of my favourite writers have decidedly different styles than mine. I believe it is important for each of us to find our own unique voice and hone that craft.

Sydney Landon: Not at all.  I never know where a story will take me and what means I'll use to get there.  I've probably tried them all.

What rules of writing do you intentionally break?

Sydney Landon: Grammar. Sometimes the rules say it's wrong, but it sounds so right!

Patricia Sands: None intentionally and probably several unintentionally.
What rules of writing do you intentionally break?

David C. Cassidy: Every last one. Even speling and grammer if I have to. Seriously, I do uphold one rule: There are no rules. I don’t get the whole “don’t do this, don’t do that” mentality with writing. I cross genre boundaries in stories—does it lessen the whole? Not for me. It adds to it. A great story is like a great photograph—the best photographs tell the story exactly as it needs to be told.

Thanks very much, all!

Sydney Landon lives in Greenville, South Carolina and has spent the last twenty-five years working in accounting. Sydney met her own prince charming in 2000 and received the most romantic proposal on a pier in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, thus creating her eternal love for the city. The fact that her future husband was a fellow computer geek completely sealed the deal for her. She credits him with keeping her calm and rational while also understanding her need for a new pair of shoes every other week. They have two children who keep life interesting and borderline insane, but never boring. The idea of the Danvers’ Series popped into her head and refused to go away. She started writing the first story never imagining that it would ever be finished. Three months later it turned into her first book, Weekends Required. Within a few months, it had quickly made the best-seller list on Amazon, and went on to make the New York Times Best Seller List.  Barely taking a breath between books, Sydney followed up with the second book in the series, Not Planning on You. Within the first month, this book also became a best-seller. The third book in the series, Fall For Me was released in February 2013 and became a New York Times Best Seller.  The fourth book in the series, Fighting For You releases in paperback in February 2014.  Sydney is currently working on the fifth book in the Danvers’ Series. When she isn’t writing, Sydney enjoys reading, swimming and being a mini-van driving, soccer mom.

Sydney is a member of BestSelling ReadsVisit her website.

Author, photographer and half-decent juggler David C. Cassidy spends his writing life creating dark and touching stories where Bad Things Happen To Good People.

Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD (Multiple Activity Disorder), he divides his time between writing and blogging, photography and photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

David is a member of Independent Authors International. Visit his website.

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada most of the time, Florida some of the time, and the south of France whenever possible. With a happily blended family of seven adult children and, at last count, six grandchildren, life is full and time is short. Beginning with her first Kodak Brownie camera at the age of six, she has told stories all of her life through photography. She is the author of the award-winning novel, The Bridge Club and her most recent release, The Promise of Provence. The latter is an Amazon best-seller that was also featured on the Movers & Shakers Digital list.  Thanks to reader demand, a sequel to The Promise of Provence in in the works! Put your feet up and be carried away to the south of France in this delightful novel.  Her stories celebrate the rewarding friendships of women and examine the challenges life often throws in our paths. Becoming a published author at this stage of her life was not on her agenda but she knows now she will never stop writing.

Patricia is a member of BestSelling Reads. Visit Patricia's

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