I’ve been housebound for the past six weeks following surgery. The first five weeks I didn’t feel like doing anything at all so I entertained myself reading magazines. I’m addicted to the written word. It’s painful for me to part even with magazines (so you can imagine how many books I own!) so I had an entire year’s worth to read. If someone wrote it and if it is a book/magazine/paper I own, I feel duty bound to read I cover to cover before I recycle them. In May and June I got my chance.
Many of the ideas I come up with for my books start with snatches of information I pick up while reading the daily paper, listening to television or reading those magazines. It’s not the main story line that necessarily benefits from these snippets of facts I get from reading. I may read an article on greyhound rescue and decide that an adopted race dog is the perfect pet for one of my characters. Or I might read a fashion magazine and decide that one of my characters should have a particular style of dress. It keeps me and my books from becoming routine.
When I speak to groups, I often say that a writer is like a dry sponge that moves through the world soaking up information and then, when they sit down to write, squeezes that juicy mix onto the page. People used to ask me if my books were written about myself. I’ve had nearly 80 published books in my career so it’s easy to assure them that I have not lived every one of the lives of my characters. I haven’t experienced being anorexic or practicing as an attorney. I haven’t been a trainer at a gym, a hockey player or worked at NASA. Neither have I been a 42 year old newbie male pastor in a rural parish (as my hero is in An Unlikely Blessing and Surprising Grace which will be released in February, 2012.) But life is simply more fun if you keep soaking it up!