Writers’ Guild authors share favorite books


Jan Marx

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” –Stephen King

The quote is true, but not specific enough. Just reading isn’t enough, neither is writing reams of mindless verbiage. Reading good literature is important in order to write well. Poor writing is often a result of bad writing/bad examples. Practice does make perfect!

You might say, “What I want to read or write is mystery, spy thriller, science fiction, or a children’s book. Maybe even non-fiction.” The following are Robson Ranch Writers’ Guild critique group members and some of their favorites that demonstrate good writing as well as inspiration for their genres.

Mystery/Spy/Thriller aficionados Jackie Moore (A Diplomatic Death) and John Sandel (Deadly Contraband) demonstrate their interest in writers like John Grisham, Tony Hillerman, Robin Cook and Dean Koontz.

Carl Smothers (The Last Forty Days and I, Gynoid) is a fan of Tom Clancy, especially Hunt for Red October and The Cardinal of the Kremlin. On the other side of the spectrum, his all-time favorite is Anne of Green Gables (1908). He is currently reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card—a list possibility.

Mary Jo Skillings—Belding’s Aunt Minnie McGranahan (Parents’ Choice Award) and Aunt Minnie and the Twister, children’s books, show why she enjoys other children’s authors: Kevin Henkes, Katherine Paterson and Patricia Palachio. Beldings’ young adult book Who Can I Tell? addresses concerns about bullying and sexism. To Kill a Mockingbird stands out as a good example. Non-fiction book picks are Angel in the Whirlwind by Benson Bobrick and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

Past Good Earth (Book 3 in my Past Corpus series) is influenced by a love of historical fiction as are The Good Earth, Coming Home, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Silas Marner and Anything for Billy, examples of various styles reflecting history and culture. Graphic autobiographical works Persepolis and Maus also speak to my passion for history. The Three Pigs by David Wiesner for children/adults is written on different levels. Brave New World (1920-30s futuristic novel, coming true today.

Travel, political debate, religion and environment give writers voice. Reading has a profound effect on what and how we tell a story.

Announcing—Reading/Writing Celebration: May 9, 3:00 p.m., Library. Panel of writers/Q&A. Continue the discussion!