My wife has always been a big fiction reader. Sometimes it’s relationship/ romance, but recently it has been mostly crime novels. You’d recognize the authors, I’m sure.
In comparison, I usually approached reading more as a “factual” experience.” Pre-Kindle, preparing for holidays often entailed her looking at me and asking if I really needed to pack, for instance, that massive Jefferson biography. Reading had never really been, to me, about “escapism.”
Then again, true, I suppose it also depends on how we define “escapism”?
She has asked before. And yesterday she asked me again if, having now published fiction, I find myself more inclined to read fiction for sheer pleasure? But I’m still not sure how to answer that question.
The first “grown up” book I recall delving into was my Dad’s copy of – yes, really – Thucydides: The Peloponnesian Wars. I was about age 10, and I remember being fascinated by its cover. (In case we forget cover art’s importance!) He gave it to me and all these years later, I still have it.
I did fine in English lit in school. But I did not really spend free time reading anything that did not “teach” me something. By the time I hit college, I much preferred history.
As we know, history may overlap with fiction. (I know, I know, many out there think history is just a branch of fiction! But let’s leave that debate aside here.) I recall as an older teen getting also unexpectedly caught up in the 1965 historical novel, Constantine: The Miracle of the Flaming Cross, by Frank G. Slaughter. That book also belonged to my Dad; and it brings late ancient Rome “to life.” (Like his Thucydides paperback, eventually my Dad gave me Constantine too.) Other historical novels caught my interest as well.
So I enjoyed historical tales – real or invented – and that has become my writing focus. Naturally, we are all also the sum total of our life experiences, which on varying levels may impact what we write as well. As I’ve noted previously, friends and family were taken aback when they discovered I had authored a “fiction” book. Yet given what I have liked to read all my life, if I think on it my writing Passports is actually not a tremendous shocker.
By the way, I have always believed Slaughter’s Constantine novel would serve as a basis for a terrific film – if any producers are out there, stumble on this post, and happen to be looking for material….
….uh, after my novel, that is. 😉