Answers to Questions

So here we go with answers to questions. Remember if you want to know something about me, the writing, particular books or what have you, post a question in the comments here or here.

So first up: asks: What kinds of books are irresistible to you? Is there a certain type of plot or character or world that you can’t get enough of?

That’s really a terrific question and I’m not sure I know the answer to it. I like books with strong heroes and heroines. I don’t like books with stupid people. I like plots that twist and turn, where there is a point to the things that happen. Smart books make me happy. I like smart dialog and wit to the stories. I like description that is evocative and not just there for ornamentation. i like reasonably happy endings. I like for there to be payoff. I like emotional depth to the characters and between characters. I like some romance in there, as long as it feels real and reasonable.

As for plots and characters I can’t get enough of . . . . Hmmm. I think I really like strong characters who end up in trouble because of strong morals of their own–which is to say, not because they are stupid, but because they won’t let some bad deed go unpunished. I don’t mind people doing stupid things out of some flaw of their character–like they know they shouldn’t run into the burning building but they need to get the dog out or some such. It’s the stupid where s/he goes out alone into the darkness when there is a serial killer hanging about that bothers me.

I don’t care much for tearjerking stories or stories of unredeemed darkness. I like romance because I think that’s natural and normal, but I don’t know that I want it taking over the story. I don’t really care for anti-hero stories, like the Thomas the Covenant stories, though I do like the Elric stories. I’m not sure why.

I like stories of heroism and I don’t like stories where women are idiot wimps. I hate stories where the man is so Alpha that the woman is dragged around by the hair and thinks that’s just the most wonderful thing ever because the man is so very very very handsome and his meanness is only a cover for some deeply hidden scars and angst. Deeply hidden. So far hidden that you just want to kick him in the balls most of the time.

I also like romping adventure.

What about all of you? What kinds of books do you find irresistable?


  • Jeff

    I love nonfiction stories about heroes and heroines. I just finished James Hornfischer’s “The Last Stand Of the Tin Can Sailors”. A story of how five destroyers and the four “jeep carriers” of Admiral Clifton Spraugue’s task unit “Taffy 3” turned back eleven Japanese battleships (including the Yamoto the largest battleship ever made) and cruisers from destroying Gen. Douglas Macarthur’s invasion of the Philippines. The odds were impossible, but the bravery of the American sailors and their willingness to charge forward to certain death unnerved the Japanese commander Vice Adm. Takeo Kurita and he turned his fleet back just short of victory. The tale of the aftermath, the struggle to survive for three harrowing days by the sailors of the four United States vessels that were sunk is also a compelling read.

    I like my fiction heroes/heroines to struggle with a moral flaw or a psychological scar to overcome or even change.

    I’m most disappointed in books where the first two acts are great and I’m hooked into the story and characters, then the final act falls apart and the ending is unrealistic or forced.

    I like to be surprised, especially when the writer has foreshadowed elegantly, and I bang my head and say “I should have seen that”.

    I don’t mind an occasional tale of unredeemed darkness as long as it’s well told. These stories usually stop and make you think. But I think they are very difficult to pull off.

    Di, you probably like the Elric stories because they are short and you get the payoff before you get tired of the anti-hero. I think the short novel form of Moorcock and Zelazny is a lost art.

  • Di Francis

    That Hornfischer book sounds fabulous. I’ll have to put it on my list of books to hunt down.

    Tell me more about how books fall apart for you. What does that entail? In fact, i may ask that of everyone soon. It’s a great topic for conversation.

    One of my writing professors used to say that the best ending is where you can say: Of course! It coudln’t end any other way! And yet you didn’t see it coming.

    I loved the Amber books too. Adored them. Need to reread them too. And I’ll have to go back to the Elric books. i just remember thinking they were just really good and powerful. That Elric was an amazingly written character.

  • Melanie

    I’ve read a lot of fiction, fantasy and sci-fi. What gets me to buy the book is the subject and where it takes place. If it’s a romping adventure in a created world other than our own, if it’s got a strong plot and storyline that are different and exciting and you don’t know where you will end up at the end of the book, if the lead character’s are originals (i.e. I know the story of Camelot – please don’t tell it again :)), and finally if I can start reading it and want to turn the page.

    What keeps me reading a book is how engaging the characters are, how the pacing is and descriptions are (i.e. using words to describe what the reader needs to know but not so many words as to bore me to death reading about how fascinating the wallpaper is), and the plot- oh yes, please have a masterful plot! With all of the books available today, there are so many around that have a lamentable, or even worse, no plot at all! It’s all about the story line and if there isn’t a good one, you’ll lose me.

    What I love reading about – strong heroines who aren’t in the story to just get a man, sea faring tales (the pilots in Crosspointe – brilliant!), action adventure (the Path series – brilliant), Wicked twists (i.e. Wicked by Gregory Maguire), dragons (Eragon), time travel (Somewhere in Time and Time and Again), 19th Century New York (what a fascinating time and so seldom written about unless you are a fan of Doyle), books that use magic and magical characters correctly.

    Favorite Authors or Series – The Pellinor Series, The Eragon Series, Circle of Magic, Ridley Pearson, Dave Barry and of course the Harry Potter Series.

    I’ve found that the young adult and independent reader authors have been offering fresher views and more enjoyable stories in the past several years.

    I’ll add the Hornfischer book to my list as well. I have a personal interest in that period of time and especially General MacArthur as my father was on his staff.

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