Jen Forbus is above all else a crime fiction reader and fan. She’s been blogging at Jen’s Book Thoughts for the past four years and is always concocting schemes to encourage awareness of great crime fiction. When she isn’t doing that, she’s probably vacuuming pet hair from her two chocolate labs and four rescue cats.
by Jen Forbus
We as humans, by nature, like what we know, what’s safe and comfortable. Our reading choices don’t tend to be different from that. We have our “must reads” from those authors we’ve come to know well. And if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us continue reading an author religiously long after he/she has started “phoning it in.” It’s safe and comforting. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need.
But what about the new authors you discover? How do you go about that? Do you seek it out actively or do you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time for a new author; all my favorites take up my reading time”?
Part of the fun of reading for me is discovering new authors. Last year I read 97 novels and of those 97, 51 were from new-to-me authors. Some I’ll not likely read again. Not that they were bad, necessarily, just that they weren’t the right fit for me and my reading preferences. But a good number of those new-to-me authors are going to be authors I look for in the future. And I’m thankful I took the chance to read them.
Let’s face it, it IS taking a chance. You’re giving up more than the money you might spend on the book; you’re giving up hours of your life on something you don’t know about yet.
I say “new-to-me” because many of my “new” discoveries are authors who have been around awhile: Mike Lawson (http://www.mikelawsonbooks.com/), Laurie King (http://www.laurierking.com/), Ace Atkins (http://www.aceatkins.com/). These are fun because you don’t have to wait for them to write more if you want to read more immediately. There’s already more available.
Other “new” discoveries were 2011 debut authors: Daniel Palmer (http://www.danielpalmerbooks.com/), Sara Henry (http://www.sarajhenry.com/), James Barney (http://jamesbarney.com/). There’s something special about getting in on the ground floor with a brand new author.
I come across these “new-to-me” authors in a plethora of ways: I may be assigned a book for review or receive a pitch letter that is too enticing to pass up. I may agree to participate in a blog tour. Or I might encounter that individual on social media and establish a relationship of sorts. I get to know that author as a person and then want to read his/her work. And then of course there are recommendations from people I trust.
2012 is already taking off like gangbusters in the new-to-me department. I’ve experienced Kyle Mills (http://www.kylemills.com/), David Ellis (http://www.davidellis.com/), Charlie Newton (http://charlienewton.com/), and Dana Stabenow (http://www.stabenow.com/), as well as debut author G.M. Lawrence (http://www.gmlawrence.com/).
I’m looking forward to Owen Laukkanen’s THE PROFESSIONALS (http://owenlaukkanen.com/) and Robert Greer’s ASTRIDE A PINK HORSE (http://www.robertgreerbooks.com/).
I’ve been reading a lot more non-American authors of late. I intend to add more new-to-me authors from this category as well, among them: Sarah Blædel (http://sarablaedel.com/) and Liza Marklund (http://www.lizamarklund.com/).
I’ll continue to be a devoted fan to my tried and trues. Elvis Cole still makes my toe curl and Ellie Hatcher will always be my hero. Visiting Absaroka County and Sea Haven are bonus vacations. But I’m going to continue to take chances as well because at one time, all my tried and trues were brand new, too.
How about you? What was a great new discovery for you in 2011? Do you know someone you’re going to take a chance on in 2012? How do you decide which books to take a chance on?