I like to think that I’m an experienced reader. I grew up in a household where if you had the choice between watching television or a film or reading a book, the books won every time. And if it wasn’t books, it would be story telling competitions that would go on between my brother and I and our grandfather – of course our grandfather won every time because the stories that he would tell and write were nothing short of magical fantasy creations.
There isn’t a genre that I haven’t tried reading, and ok I’ll be honest there are some that I don’t enjoy. Just as there are some authors that I know to avoid because I just don’t gel with their styles – or some historical fiction authors I avoid like the plague because they make my blood boil! But overall, give me a book no matter ow brilliant or awful it is and I will stick with it because regardless, at best I’ll fall in love and at worst I’ll learn something from it. Even if that something is ‘what not to do when writing’.
So, I thought I had seen it all.
But I was wrong. So, so, so, so wrong.
This week, I’ve found myself lost in a book. And it’s a book of sheer brilliance, where the author makes you fall hard for the characters. Each character has a huge amount of development – from the major characters to the small and seemingly unimportant characters. It’s had me on a rollercoaster of emotions, to the point where I have had to put the book down and step away from it.
I can’t remember a book, in all honesty, where I’ve had to do that. Put it down, walk away from it and then have the occasional outburst of “OH GOD YOU IDIOT WHAT ARE YOU DOING” at certain characters in it. I’ve finished the first book now, and I need a point of recovery before I delve into the second book (it’s a six book series). But as much as it has broken my heart (no, not broken my heart there were times when I felt as though it was being ripped from my chest and trampled on before attempting to shove it back into place!) I’ve loved every second of it.
And, not only is it a phemonemanl book (which yes, I’ve already told Charlotte she’s got to read!) but I’ve learned so much from it. To have a book, where all of the characters at hand are so important, all of them have a role to play from the smallest to the biggest and where they are all so perfectly developed, that’s something to aspire to. And that’s before we get onto the world building. Where a world has been created to work with and against these characters, where it provides challenges and consequences to the actions of said characters.
All in all, it’s one of those rare books that I’ve put down and gone ‘yes, this is what I want to aspire to do with our writing’. Charlotte and I have had a lot of time talking recently about our characters, moving them forwards and things like that. We’ve spoken about world building and all of those things that sometimes will be put on the back burner because … well, they can be a little tedious at times, and at sometimes really quite hard. Although the hardest part is honestly making sure the both of us are on the same page – which really is easier said than done at times!
But, for me at least I’ve had a wake up call and a realisation of why even the tiniest and most insignificant of characters are important, or even why something as minor as say the colour of a house is a detail that can allow an extension of the characters. All in all, I’ve come to realise that there is a lot of world building left to do – something we knew already, but sometimes, sometimes it does take a brilliant book to throw it in your face!
I’m off to start the second of these books now … so help me, I’m not sure I’m sufficiently emotionally recovered from the first!