I’d like to talk about what I call Realistic Fiction.
I read mystery/suspense novels almost exclusively because I love a mystery. Always have; probably always will. Of course, there are wonderful books in all genres but mystery/suspense is my genre of choice – to read and to write.
I love to read and one of the reasons I read is to escape the real world with all of its problems. When I read, I want to go to a world where I can get to know and care about the characters, visit new places - real or imaginary - and, of course, try to solve the mystery. If I learn something from the book, that’s a bonus.
Now, having said that, I want the fiction I read to be realistic. The characters and the plot have to be believable in order for a book to draw me in and to keep me reading. But I have my limits. There are certain topics I avoid reading about. Some things hit too close to home and/or are a bit “too” realistic for me.
For example, awhile back I started to read a novel by a well-known author, a really good writer. But, after reading a few pages, I realized that the main character’s father suffered from Alzheimer’s. The author was trying to put a humorous spin on a serious disease. I’m sure lots of people enjoyed his book and maybe I’m overly “sensitive” but I had to stop reading it. While I realized that what happened in the book wasn’t “real,” it was too depressing for me.
If you’ve read my Malone mysteries, you may be thinking “Hmm. In the series, the main character’s husband is an alcoholic and another of the characters is an elderly woman in a wheelchair. How is that not depressing?” In fact, I had one review for “Mixed Messages” where the reviewer expressed exactly that sentiment. And now I have a chance to explain the difference – as I see it. Each of my books ends with what I consider to be essential in life and in fiction – Hope!
Yes, David is an alcoholic and, yes, Olivia is in a wheelchair. But, as the series progresses, you will see David recovering from alcoholism (you might learn something about this often misunderstood disease) and, as you get to know Olivia, you’ll realize quickly that the accident that crippled her happened when she was seventeen and, not only has she adapted to her situation, but she is one of the happiest, most positive people you’ll ever “meet.”
I’d love to hear from you. Are there topics you avoid when you read? If so, would you like to tell us why? And, if not, I’d love to hear about that too.