Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What books Are Your Characters Reading

This whole topic of books we have read and book lists lead to the possibility of classifying your characters by what books they are reading or have read. So I asked myself what books are the characters in A Cornish House reading? The answer is I'm not sure. This clearly means I don't yet know my characters well enough yet.

I'll start with the most straight forward - Serena, the bolshy 15 year old. Now I know what a teenage boy of that age reads but I am clueless as to what a teenage girl of that age is reading. Any help would be gratefully received. At that age I was knee deep in romances but I don't see that as Serena at all.

Next up is Madde my 38 year old widow who is an artist. She would be reading the works of Daphne du Maurier at present to help her feel the landscape so that she finds its essence for painting. Also on her bedside table would be how to parent a teenager possibly the one by Alison Baverstock (Whatever - A down-to-earth Guide to Parenting Teenagers).

Next up is Mark the 36yr old architect. He's into thrillers (as most men I know are) and maybe the biography of Wilfred Thesiger or on of his books.....I'm guessing here as at present I haven't spent anytime in his bedroom!

Next up is best friend Tamsin and she is easy. She has Nigella's Feast and Katie Fforde's Practically Perfect sitting bedside her bed.

Finally Old Tom, the 76 year old retired academic. He has a selection of research books on furniture restoration and a collection of Emily Dickinson's poetry.

I really haven't thought this through enough. Just this quick exercise has made me rethink some of the things the characters have been revealing to me. So what are your characters and you reading at the moment? BTW I have given up on The Age of Innocence and fallen into Rachel Hore's The Dream House which I am loving.

30 comments:

Lucy Diamond said...

What a good idea this is! I think my heroine would probably read magazines more than books. She's very busy. But her outrageous sister would love a good sex n'shopping bonkbuster!

liz fenwick said...

Now you have me guessing. I was in magazine phase when my kids were little. Does she have young kids? I take it the sister is single? Now what about the hero???

Caroline said...

I have this within ISoA. Jude reads Roald Dahl and discovers Narnia. She has no books of her own. Her mother reads The Bible.
x

liz fenwick said...

Now that tells a great deal.....I can guess that things are probably tight money wise and that reading is not valued and possiblity seen as frivolous in the household and the world of escapism becomes cricial. I'll have to ISoA soon and find out!!!

Jessica Raymond said...

Hmm, I'd say if Serena is 15 and not into romance, she could be in the Stephen King camp. I morphed from one into the other myself!

Jess x

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Jess....I never read Stephen King which I leaves me sadly lacking but I don't have the stomach for horror but you maybe right Serena just might :-)

JJ said...

I've never heard of this one, but what a brilliant idea.

Liz, if your 15 yr old girl isn't into Stephen King, and is altogether girlier, there are lots of boyfriend/shopping/clothes books out there she might be reading. Have a hunt through Amazon...

JJ

Helen said...

I've been trying to think what I would have read at 15 and I am having trouble remembering. I may have sneaked a peak at my sister's Jackie Collins whilst reading Stephen King's Misery in public...

liz fenwick said...

JJ and Helen thanks for the suggestions....Serena has a real ATTITUDE so maybe the stephen king and maybe the others....amazone here i come.......

Caroline said...

Ooooohhhh. Maybe? Perhaps.
This is such a good idea!

xx

liz fenwick said...

Glad you think so Caroline.....you just want to keep me in suspense until I read ISoA ;-)

Jessica Raymond said...

Ooh, Helen just reminded me that I used to sneakily read my mum's Jackie Collins books -- usually with innocent-looking dustjackets around them so she wouldn't find out!

I also thought that Serena might read The Catcher in the Rye? That can be a seminal teenage book.

Jess x

Therese said...

If Serena's got "attitude," she's likely reading "up"--that is, adult fiction that corresponds with her fantasies.

Romance, revenge, sex-and-shopping, thrillers, whatever the case may be.

In my current work, one of my characters is a Hemingway scholar...so I have some catch-up reading to do!

liz fenwick said...

Jess - I had forgotten about Cater in the Rye I read it soooooooo long ago. She wouldn't reading any of Madde's books because that's not Madde's taste. She a bit straight really and should be reading something racy but life has bit a bit to overwhelming....whose books could she pinch????????

liz fenwick said...

These I don't envy you on the Hemingway but maybe I shouldn't say that I read him soooooooo long ago and his work might look very different now as per all our discussions.

I will think about what she might be reading up and per Jess who from or where from???

Thanks for all the great ideas :-)

Jane Henry said...

Liz, what a great discussion.

If she is a pseudo intellectual (which might go along with her bolshie fifteen year oldness) she might be tackling things like Sartre and thinking she's terribly clever.

She also might be wanting to seem daring so I reckon any of those paranormal/erotic type books that people like Kate Johnson, Rosemary Laurey and Julie Cohen write might spring to mind.

She may already consider them too young, but I bet she will have gone through the Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging series (Louise Renison is the author I think) and tackled things like Junk by Melvin Burgess and the one he wrote about sex of which I forget the name.

If she has a social conscience I would have thought something like the Color Purple was a must - maybe the Women's Room, but perhaps fifteen year olds today aren't so into feminism (I get the idea they aren't)

If I have time will check out what my neighbour's fifteen year old is reading..

Oh and there's Alice Sebold and all those misery memoirs( particularly if she's into Emo!) - and presumably she'll be so influenced by the media she'll read anything Richard and Judy recommend.... or if she's anti that kind of thing she won't!

Oh and what about Cecelia Aherne?

love Janex

liz fenwick said...

Hi Jane. Thanks for the great sugestions. I have to say it making me think more and more inot Serena's quieter side of which we see little of in the book. AT present she is all mouth and all out there but she does have a soft and very vulernable under belly....off to check out books on Amazon and be grateful the teenagers i'M DEALING WITH AT HOME ARE BOYS AT THE MOMENT!!!

Judy Astley said...

Liz - If your stroppy teen Serena has a sense of humour she might read
Louise Rennison but the 15 year old in those books seems very juvenile and
yours might wall-bang the books!
What about Meg Rossof? Just In Case and How I Live Now would give her
something to think about - both wonderful books.
She could also look at Chrissie Glazebrook: The Madolescents and Bella
Bathurst's fabulous one, Special (I recommend this one HUGELY - loved it).
Kate Long's books would appeal to teens too.
Then there's Colette's Claudine books (my personal desert island choice).
For a spot of music-biz non-fiction a book called 'I hate myself and want
to die' features the most depressing song lyrics of all time, analysed with
laugh-aloud humour.
Not sure if this is the sort of thing you meant but I hope it helps.

Judy x

B.E. Sanderson said...

My 13-yr old daughter is into Laura Lael Miller and Sherrilyn Kenyon (and anything else having to do with paranormal, except Anne Rice - who she dislikes). She also likes to watch the TV show 'Charmed' in reruns.

Hope that helps. =oD

liz fenwick said...

Hi Judy you had me laughing out loud with the last suggestion 'i hate myself and i want to die'. I do think this would hit her sense of humour. Will check out the other suggestions. Thanks!

liz fenwick said...

b.e. thanks for the input. I'm off to amazon again to read the blurbs on these books. The tv series helps too!

Phillipa said...

Liz

Myabe your teen character is into science and pure fantasy as mine was (and still is at 19). So possibly Tamora Pierce or Ursula Le Guinas well as Buffy spin offs and anything Goth or vampiric? Or maybe sensible stuff from Meg Cabot or thought provoking such as Malorie Blackman? Magazines: mine loves Empire and Total Film and used to read Teen Vogue and (scretly) my Cosmo!

Fascinating idea.:)

liz fenwick said...

Yes, all good ideas Phillipa. She would be straved for fashion magazines if she was relying on Madde to bring them into the house and thinking about the local shops around there none stock anything more interesting than Country Living and Good Food.....she would have to get her fix from Helston.

This discussion is really helping me shape another dimension of Serena even this late into the first draft. i think it will help me to enrich her when I go through to the next draft :-)

Jan Jones said...

Another outstanding 'thought-provoking' Young Adult writer is Linda Newberry. Or any of the Anne Fine novels.

And at the other extreme is the 'Undead and Unwed' series. Dis you not get one in your conference goody bag last year?

liz fenwick said...

Hi Jan. I did get the Undead Unwed in my bag last year. haven't read it yet! Will check out the others though. Thanks.

Kate.Kingsley said...

Hi Liz,

This is a brillaint idea! I am going to create reading lists for my characters tonight as I have NO idea what (or indeed if) they would be reading. Thanks for pointing me in thsi direction.

I'm not going to be much use where teenage girls are concerned ~ I seem to have blocked most of my teenage years from memory, and I'm terrified of the teenagers I meet now! Sneaking peaks at Jackie Collins is ringing a bell though ....

best wishes
Kate

liz fenwick said...

Hi Kate...glad the Jakie Collins rings some bells. Have fun with their reading lists. I've learned a lot about them and tons about teenage reading!!!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

What a great question. I only knew the answer straight away for one of my five main characters (interestingly the one I often feel I know least well). I shall spend some time imagining all their bedsides and finding out what it is that they're reading.

One of the fifteen year old girls in my circle has just read Eragon, she also recently enjoyed the Susan Cooper fivelogy (not sure what the proper word is - it's The Dark Is Rising sequence) and another is into Ben Zephaniah's novels if that's any help.

liz fenwick said...

Zinnia, I have found it realy useful and even though I haven't read any of the books suggested I have a better feel for what Serena might be into......Good luck with your characters :-)

Phillipa said...

Undead and Unwed? I read those and they are extremely *hot*. Oh gosh, Liz, I wouldn't dare write them but I am so glad MJ Davidson does as I love them. Very funny, very pacy and very very spicy.