Thursday, July 05, 2007

Over protective?

Before diving into my post today, I wanted to mention that our own Patty Smiley had a new book come out this week. Many people don't catch the signifigance of having a book enter the market. For a writer it is the culmination of pouring yourself into something that holds keys to who you are. We here at Naked Authors are all very proud of Patty and Short Change.

Reading is genetic

My father was a reader, polishing off a paperback every night. From John D. MacDonald to Ross MacDonald the hallway leading to my parents’ bedroom had a bookshelf crammed with all kinds of paperbacks. Thousands of them. My father had read each one. I still have a number of them in storage, unable to get rid of something my father loved so much.

I believe my father passed on the reading gene to me. I have always been a big reader (Now that title is more literal). I still remember how I felt reading certain books. The Exorcist and The Stand were the two books that I had to put down and restart later due to fear. I admit it, books about the devil scare the crap out of me.

Now I have my own bookshelves stuffed with books. Most of them signed and from authors I know. I also have a daughter who loves to read. The gene apparently skipped my son.

One evening a few months ago she asked if she could read one of the books I wrote. I looked at her beautiful little face and said, “When you’re older.”
Emily held her ground. “How old?” I thought about a few passages from Walking Money and said, “Twenty-eight, the same age you can date.”

She accepted the pronouncement and went back to a young adult book. Then she came back, wanting to know if I had books by other people that I’d allow her to read. I gave her a few novels. Now she tears through stacks of my books. She seems to lean toward legal thrillers which I like because there’s usually less violence

and better language. She’s read all of the Solomon vs Lord novels. I’ve told Paul he has a lifetime fan.

As much as it pains me to admit it, Emily rated both of Jeff Shelby’s books as excellent. She couldn’t wait to read Wicked Break the night after finishing Killer Swell.

She pulled out a Ken Bruen novel and I told she’d have to be at least thirty. Then Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler and I said she could read it at twenty-six. Then she picked up Tough Luck by Jason Starr and I told her she wasn’t allowed to ever read one of Jason’s books. Ever.

I even have a copy of the Jason Starr / Ken Bruen collaboration, Bust. One of the chapters opens with a quote from Walking Money. I couldn't even let her read the quote.

She held up a Tess Guerritsen novel. I thought about the intelligent police work and medical examiner science and told Emily she’d be rea

dy for it in nine to thirteen years. Same with anything by Joe R. Lansdale.

Then she picked up Heartbreak Lounge by Wallace Stroby. A classic noir novel that I recommend to everyone. Except my daughter. I told her she’d have to be fifty. She said, “But Mr. Stroby is so nice.” My response, “But his book isn’t.”

She pointed at Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath, and, like any parent, I said, “You’re not even allowed to meet Mr. Konrath.”

Maybe I’m over-protective. I’ll live with it.


  1. Sounds like my house.

    Lucky for me - and my daughter, I read a ton of cozies, and other mysteries that are closer to a PG-13 rating.

    "You're not even allowed to meet Mr. Konrath." Classic.

  2. Jim,

    You're so good at remembering plots, characters and situations from other authors' books. :-D Some stay with me, some don't...

    Meanwhile, there's quite a bit out there that your daughter can read. I agree with Kathy, that cozies are a good start - I like a number of them myself. However, if she' into something with a bit more 'grab' but for her age level, there're always the Anthony Horowitz novels, beginnning with 'Stormbreaker'. Also,
    'The Invisible Detective' series by Justin Richards. One is a modern spy who dunnit, meglomaniac driven thing - think a young James Bond ala Sean Connery's take. The Invisible Detective is something of a cross between steampunk, mystery, cross time connections and a small group of determined children. If you want to find out more about these books or authors, I've reviewed the Justin Richards ones extensively on my Muse du Jour blog (March 21, 2007), and Stormbreaker more recently. You can also read about Our J.'s Maisie Dobbs there. :-D

    I love it that kids still enjoy reading. :-D


    And a big Whooo-hooo for Our Patty!

  3. Dear Mr. Born,
    Your child-rearing practices have come to the attention of the Florida Division of Family Services (Motto: "We often lose foster children, but sometimes we find them.")

    Obviously, you are exposing your daughter to materials inappropriate for her, to wit: books.

    I don't mean murder mysteries or ghost stories or legal thrillers or tales of cops and robbers.

    I mean "books." It is well known that books can foment original thinking which leads to ideas. Ideas can lead to thoughts of which we do not approve. We call those "dirty thoughts," which can lead to dirty actions. Therefore, books are dirty, except those written by Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity. (They do not leave any room for thinking).

    Therefore, please immediately cease, desist, and stop providing your daughter with those books. Do this forthwith, if not sooner.

    Thelma Lee Thigpen
    Assistant Director of Purity
    Division of Family Services
    Talahassee, Florida

  4. I told my daughter she can't read my books until she's 21. Fortunately at the moment she's so wrapped up in waiting for the final Harry Potter that she's stopped asking. Either that or she's snuck my books off the shelf and read them when I wasn't looking. Because when I was 10, that's what I would've done.

  5. My mother was a big reader and she passed the gene on to me. My sister. Not. I have wonderful memories of loading up all the books my arms could carry at the bookmobile for some summer fun. I loved the Trixen Beldon mystery novels when I was young. I skipped Nancy Drew and went right into Dame Agatha and Rex Stout.

    Thanks Jim and Marianne for your good wishes. You always hold your breath when a new book comes out.

  6. The letter from the Florida dept of child and family is funny. I assume that's Paul. My son turned 18 last week. The day before, he was playing around and jabbing me with his finger. I leaned in close and whispered "24 hours and DCF is no longer in the equation." He's been a new man since then.

    Emily is a reader. I just bought her To Kill A Mocking Bird. I think it's about hunting.


  7. Oh this reminds me of me in junior high school. Somehow, Michael Crichton books and John Grisham books started going around my 8th grade class. My dad told me I wasn't allowed to read Grisham yet... and I very distinctly remember sneaking Pelican Brief home anyway!

  8. For the record, I'm relatively liberal on things like this but there is a huge difference in content between John Grisham and Ken Bruen.

    Bruen is a close friend and he has no bigger fan than me. But even he would admit his material is not suitable for the average fourteen year old.


  9. Ironically, I had 14-year-old girls in mind when I wrote Gun Monkeys.

    I guess I just don't know my audience.


  10. Yeah, I'd keep my kids away from Konrath, too.

    If she wants to check out some SF that's different, have her read CRYSTAL RAIN and RAGAMUFFIN by Tobias S. Buckell.

    I would also recommend the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz, the Percy Jackson novels by Rick Riordan, and, oh, what's-her-name, she writes about a boy wizard, you might've heard of her... Bowling, Snowling, Fowling... something like that. Heard there might be a new one coming out soon, but maybe that's just a rumor.

  11. Emily's fan letter is the best one I've ever received. And not just because the last name Born is attached to it.

    I am proud of her for overcoming her father as a giant genetic hurdle.