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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Author Insight: Reading Turn-ons & Turn-offs

What always compels you to pick up a book? Do you have a reading turn-off that guarantees you’ll put one down?

"I love covers and art direction, beyond that, I’m pretty hard on writing and usually know by the end of the first page whether I’m going to give the author my time. Info-dumping is a turn-off." - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"An intriguing concept hooks me every time – the crazier sounding the better. I am really sensitive about animal deaths in books, especially cats. Recently I had to skip a whole chapter of a book because the family cat was dying. I just can’t read about that." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2. 

"I’m not a genre snob. I’ll read any kind of book if I think the writing’s good or fresh. If I don’t, though, I can’t get through the book. Even if the plot is engaging to me. It doesn’t matter. My eye just won’t let me do it." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"Curiosity is what compels me to start reading, and that arises from a work's reputation, or reviews, or recommendations from friends, or maybe even a particularly yellow slant of light through a bookstore window falling across a glossy cover. The usual reason I stop reading is poor character development, or if I get the impression that the author doesn't like the characters. I'm tired of certain plots, too. 'Good guys versus bad guys' doesn't cut it for me, nor does 'damsel in distress.' And I resist blatant didacticism in all forms. I want to read books about interesting characters who have complicated problems with ambiguous solutions." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

"If I've read the author before and loved his/her work, I'll most likely keep reading future books. And I have a If I see a whole bunch of people tweeting about a book, giving it lots of praise, I'll usually pick it up. Sometimes I'll hear about a book that sounds like something I'd love, so I do pick something up based on a description. The main reason I'll stop reading is if I just can't connect to the main character. I like a compelling story too, but like I've heard editors say, give me a character I adore, and I'll pretty much follow him/her anywhere." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Falling for You

"There has to be a hook that pulls me in, a personal connection of some sort. Most recently a friend told me about a non-fiction book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I was immediately interested because I’m a little shy, and as you know, there’s a lot of pressure these days for authors to be dynamic online, to master social media and self promotion. So a book about how quiet people can be successful? I want to read it!

Someone asked me to describe the story of my most recent book Since You Left Me, and I said, 'It’s about a kid trapped in religious school…who doesn’t believe.' Now that’s either going to grab you because of your personal experience or background, or it’s not." - Allen Zadoff, author of Since You Left Me.

"I’ve read mysteries all my life. I love trying to solve the puzzle as the story progresses. But I read in all genres. A deal breaker for me is characters or story elements that simply don’t ring true. A character’s reaction to an event that is totally unrealistic, for example. I hate abandoning books, but at that point I probably would." - Pamela Mingle, author of Kissing Shakespeare.

"I’ll usually pick up a book based on the cover. Shallow, but true (I spent ten years working as a graphic designer). Whether or not I buy a book depends on the jacket copy and whether or not I like the writing style as I skim random pages.

I have a few turn-offs. Characters acting completely illogically simply to further plot is one." - Kathleen Peacock, author of Hemlock.

"A character's voice is the most compelling reason for me to pick up a book. I love character-driven stories and characters who are messy and flawed and alive. And my turn-off would be the opposite. A book can have the most exciting hook in the world, but if the main character is copy-and-paste, I'm done." - Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal

"I, um, am a sucker for winged protagonists. I told my husband that I had to read a towering stack of angel romances purely for research purposes (my second book parodies this particular subgenre), but actually I just really like winged guys. It's a thing.

I don't like misogyny in fiction. I see enough of that in real life, thanks." - Helen Keeble, autor of Fang Girl

"A good opening few pages with a strong voice and good storyline setup. Things that will make me put a book down include writerly tics--using the same phrase over and over (though I did go right on through Twilight even though Edward chuckled or 'chuckled darkly' so often that I began to call him Chuckles Darkly), or doing ridiculous things with psychiatric disorder, head injury, or medical realities. For example, as I am fond of telling groups of romance writers in talks, soap-opera amnesia from a head injury, where someone bangs their head and forgets their past, doesn't happen in real life. Someone with a head injury severe enough to forget their whole past would also not be able to learn new information, take care of themselves outside of a structured setting, or function as an adult--so yuck, with respect to using this as a romance plot device! Stuff like that irks me." - Susan Vaught, author of Freaks Like Us

On Thursday, find out if the rest of the authors have reading turn-offs!

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