A week ago, I sent the second Conway Sax novel to my editor for the third and final time. This as-yet-untitled follow-on to Purgatory Chasm will be released in May 2012 by Minotaur Books, and its backstory is action-packed.
Long story short: In October 2010, the wise folks at Minotaur asked for a second Conway book – but gave me only 6 months to write it. I made the deadline, but my editor had some excellent ideas that necessitated a heavy rewrite. The 6-month project finally wrapped at 11 months. The results were worth the work, as I’m very pleased with Conway2, but boy was I put through the wringer.
On October 3, I plan to get cracking on Conway3. Thus, I’ve got one month off. Which is plenty, by the way. I know myself, and by late this month I’ll be getting antsy, ready to light into the next book.
The problem is that this schedule gives me only a month to read mysteries. I learned long ago, you see, that if I read crime books while writing one, various authors’ voices creep into my own. And the more I admire a writer, the truer this is. I can look at my previous books and say, Hey, there’s a James Ellroy sentence! And there’s a Travis McGee scene! And that bit of dialog is pure Spenser!
Solution: While writing, I need to read nonfiction. This is not a hardship; I love biography and history. I’ve got Daniel Okrent’s history of prohibition lined up as my first October read, and after that comes Ron Chernow’s Washington biography.
But all I’ve got is a month to catch up on all the latest great crime fiction. I’ve already slammed through the latest by Dennis Lehane, Steve Hamilton, Laura Lippman, and Bill Cameron. But how am I supposed to get to Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Lisa Scottoline, Tim Hallinan, Zoe Sharp, another Steve Hamilton, a Daniel Woodrow trilogy …
You get the picture. It’s not fair.
Here’s my question: Do others suffer from the same malady I do? Are you able to read mysteries while you’re writing them?