You would think I'd have read Lou Berney by now.
He's been nominated for an Edgar more than once (won one of them too, or was it two he won?)
But, I hadn't.
Then I was called upon to moderate a panel at Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee. Since I've seen brilliant moderaters in action (Katrina Niidis Holm, I'm looking at you) I just copy what they do. Step one: read the books of the panelists.
Thus it was that a big ol' box o'books dropped on my desk a few weeks back and I had to take time away from work to read them. All of them. It was my solemn duty, you see.
"Wait a minute," said the clients. "All of them??"
Ok, ok I said, one from each panelist.
So I dove in to The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney.
And writer friends, holy moly.
What a read!
I didn't want it to end!
I slowed down. I stopped reading on the subway.
I stopped reading in the tub.
I only read on the couch, lingeringly, lovingly.
But then it did end, so I cleverly snuck a copy of his previous books inside "The Agent's Guide to Contracts on Carkoon" and read those too.
And they were just as wonderful.
Now, I do not mention this just to increase your To Be Read stack (although these books deserve your eyeballs!) but to talk about the insight I got while reading these books.
We always talk about world building in books that are other-than-here and now. World building for fantasy novels, for historical novels of all stripes.
But I realized that world building is just as important in a book set in the present day and time. In The Long and Faraway Gone, I was right there as the story unfolded because the world building was done so subtly and so well.
I've been reading books for a good long time, and offering up my opinions on what makes good ones for almost as long. And I just realized this now.
Which goes to show: you do learn new stuff even when you think you know it all (cause of course I do think I know it all)
world building is important no matter what you're writing.
Is there a particular book you credit with illuminating something about the writing process for you? Share in the comments column!