Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Evolution of a Reader.

Fifteen years ago I wouldn't have even glanced sideways at the horror section in a bookstore. 

I would have marched directly into the shop and headed straight for the fantasy section without a single deviation in my stride. 

And that was ok. At the time fantasy was (and to a certain extent still is) my jam. I just couldn't get enough of it. Lord of the Rings, check. Game of Thrones BEFORE it became a worldwide phenomena (yes people... the books started coming out in the nineties), check. The epic and wonderful sagas from our very own Sara Douglass. Check. 

Nothing else existed in my minds eye. I lapped up the heroes and heroines, the wizards and warlocks, and the knights and the magical creatures over and over. 

Since then, however, I have changed. I'm older and fatter. I have less hair, and the hair that I do have is rapidly fading to salt and pepper before my very eyes (when I can in actual fact see clearly out of my eyes, must remember to make that appointment at the optometrist). 

I also, in this time, met my partner and fell in love. We moved a couple of times, bought and sold a house or two, and had a wonderful daughter who brought a light into our lives that I never knew could exist. 

So naturally, my reading tastes have changed as well. I'm wiser then I was fifteen years ago (nineteen year old me was a shit really), and less tolerant of books that spin out the same old fluff over and over. As I have aged I have started to explore the other genres that all were filed loosely under the umbrella term 'speculative fiction' by readers and writers. 

I still remember the day when I discovered the unearthly works of Stephen King. King opened my naive eyes to well written and fascinating horror, post-apocalyptic fiction, and weird westerns. Following this trend I dabbled in the crazy adventures of Hap and Leonard, as Joe R. Lansdale showed me just how fucking great characters could be when writing a tale. Excitedly, I even went backwards in time (not in a literal sense, never fear) and purchased the works of writers like Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. Anything just to get a glimpse at something other than traditional fantasy. 

Ultimately, however, what changed me the most as a reader was overcoming my introverted nature by starting a blog. Suddenly I was befriending fellow readers, writers, and social media commentators working within the industry I loved. I was tossed head first into the rich and tasty melting pot of recommendations and discussions on Reddit, and I was able to chat with fellow travellers about what they enjoyed and were reading at the time. My TBR pile grew astronomically, and my credit card balance got more precarious looking (funny that). I chipped away at that pile, and I was drawn into the gritty works of Joe Abercrombie, the fascinating steampunk worlds of Cherie Priest, and the clearly defined and incredibly unique magic systems of Brandon Sanderson. 

And I'm still changing! Over the past few months I have started heading off in reading directions I never even imagined I would go. Weird westerns are still very popular, but I've found myself now reading a hell of a lot more horror. I have purchased and consumed all of the military horror anthologies from publishers like Cohesion Press, and Laird Barron has drawn me into his dark web and subsequently blown my mind with his tales from the Crone mythos. I've even started reading Clive Barker, on the recommendation of a author friend whose opinion I respect. 

Now when I walk into a bookstore I tend to look at the horror section first, followed by the fantasy and science fiction sections. I'm sure in a few years time I will have changed yet again... that's just the way things are with getting older and reading. 

I'm excited to see what the future brings... maybe I will get into paranormal romance? Yeah... that's not going to happen. 

Be nice to each other, and keep on reading!


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