Have you ever succumbed to ‘random reading syndrome’? That moment when you’re book browsing and before you can blink, you have a title completely outside your favourite genre by an author you’ve never heard of in your hand. This could be because the cover was pretty, the title made you laugh, or there was a beetle precariously walking the edge of the binding and you were compelled to save it from plunging into the darkened crevasse between that and the next shelved title.
Readers are not the only who may suffer this ailment. Writers can also fall prey to a related condition. Not only might they read outside their favourite genre, but they might even WRITE outside it too, trialling alternate techniques within those genres just for fun!
I’m an offender on both counts. In fact, I don’t suffer from random reading syndrome, I enjoy in it! :) By forcing myself to read outside the known I’ve not only stumbled upon some wonderful books I might have otherwise missed, but I’ve learned so much: about me, about writing, about reading.
As writers it’s important to become familiar with our genres. I’ve read a heap more YA in the past year than I have in a decade, simply because I was writing into that genre and it had been a while since I’d read books targeted to that age group. But I think most writers can also identify the immense value in reading beyond what we write (including mainstream titles). Expanding out literary world is good for us. It’s also equally valuable to sometimes write outside our comfort zone. Not necessarily a whole novel, but even a short story or poem.
While studying creative writing I took the opportunity to explore different tenses and points of view while writing outside my most familiar genre. In one submission it was observed my written voice worked well with Chick Lit, so I also wrote a fantasy piece with a male protagonist. (Of course...)
Perhaps that’s why it makes sense I have two titles being released this month in two contrasting genres. Integrate is a YA fiction and was released on Monday this week. A Devil’s Ransom is a maritime historical romance to be released later in the month. I’ve loved writing them both, yet I’ve also realised how swiftly a writing focus can strangle our tendency for random reading bouts. For our own writing sakes we need to foster our inner random reader.
Besides, we might even become a fan of a genre or author we’d never otherwise encounter. Now there’s a great reason, if any, to turn into a different aisle in the bookstore next time we venture there. (And don’t forget to keep an eye for any book-walking beetles or giant intergalactic chickens ...)
Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. She’s had a variety of short works published and has two novels being released in 2014—a YA SciFi and a historical maritime romance. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and a broad ranging imagination. To find out more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com