One of the factors that really unlocked my writing career was when my circumstances changed and I began to read. Prior to that, I had been studying, climbing the work ladder and didn’t read outside of set texts or work emails. Then, redundancy gave me time to discover fiction again.
Now, the buying and reading of books is one of my greatest pleasures and, at the same time, my greatest irritations. There is almost nothing better than getting lost in a good book, when you look up from the pages and are suprised at where you are, because your head is in the book world. This particularly happens with Golden Age crime novels, when I look up expecting to be able to ring for my butler.
I do try and ease myself out of the comfortable warm bath of Golden Age (How dare you, Sir – no gentleman would ask a lady such impertinent questions) into other genres, in order to broaden my perspective. And this is when the irritation comes in. There are some books I find harder to read than others but I grit my teeth and keep going. There is normally something worth knowing in each book, even if it takes a bit of thinking about. There are some books where I forget the main character’s name each time I put the book down but there will be some phrase, some description that resonates. Most of all, I think it is the act of reading that trains my brain to be ready for writing.