By Ian Acheson
Contest season is very much upon us and the majority of my fiction reading for the next six months will be consumed by judging entries in various competitions both local and abroad.
One of the reasons I especially love judging is I get “forced” to read stories that I wouldn’t normally read. I typically judge speculative fiction but this is such a catch-all for all sorts of different flavors, two of which: space opera and superhero, I recently read for the first time. Accordingly, I’m presented with a variety of stories that I wouldn’t typically read.
Read in your genre
This is the old chestnut we’re all familiar with. And for obvious reasons it makes a lot of sense to do so and for many years I found myself only reading in the genres of speculative and thriller/suspense because that’s what I write. However, my flavor of speculative was narrow (supernatural angels and demons) and so I limited myself to such novels.
Certainly there are some flavors of speculative I struggle with, for example, horror and will choose not to read it. But I’ve had the privilege of reading some real beauties. For example, Patrick Carr’s writing is excellent and Billy Coffey has such a unique Southern voice plus a tremendous insight into small town spiritual good and evil.
Sample other delights
Over the past few years both through judging and developing friendships in the industry I’ve spent much of my non-judging half-year reading outside the speculative genre.
History has now become a keen interest. Having not studied a lot of it through my schooling years I’ve always felt a gap in my knowledge with all things historical. Strangely though, like many of us, I grew up devouring 18th and 19th century classical literature.
Novels with an historical bent have grabbed my interest. Biblical fiction in particular has become a favorite because of what I learn. Similarly, stories set in WWI and/or WWII have appealed because of what I can learn about the period. I so enjoyed Irma Joubert’s “Girl From the Train” (not to be confused with Paula Hawkins similarly titled recent blockbuster).
Rachel McMillan’s Sherlock Holmes-inspired Herringford and Watts Mysteries series has taken me back to the early 1900s in Toronto, Canada. Rachel has such a sophisticated witty voice creating two marvellous lady detectives while giving the reader a spin around some of the sights of Toronto.
Naturally, I can’t not read some of the various flavors of romance recommended by many of my author friends. From contemporary beauties supplied by the likes of our own Kara Isaac and Andrea Grigg to romantic suspense by Lisa Harris and Ronie Kendig to Melissa Tagg’s rom-com there’s a feast of great reading to be had.
What’s a genre or new flavour (sub-genre?) that you’ve recently enjoyed and an example of an author that you never expected to read?
Happy reading, dear friends.
Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian’s first novel, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard won the 2014 Selah Award for Best Speculative Fiction. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian’s website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter.