Sometimes I read for pleasure (more often than not, actually), but sometimes with the specific purpose of honing my writing craft. Oft times, when working on a project that wants a certain look or feel, I will read (or listen to) books in a similar vein. I find it helps me get the flow moving faster without diluting my ideas. In other words, it is very useful, at least to this writer.
Lately, I’ve been doing both kinds of reading. Reading for pleasure, and by some few new (again, to me) authors, being informed of ways of putting a novel together in a (cough) novel way. I’ve written, from time to time, about people like Kevin Brockmeier who, unknowingly gave me permission to write a story without explaining the outrageous effect that drives the human action. What a relief! One can write SciFi (clearly not Hard SciFi), fantasy, mysteries… you name it, and in fact, good stories are being written without getting into the (often boring or confusing) nuts and bolts of the Big Cause.
Learning that was a huge gift, one that has freed me considerably as a fiction writer. I didn’t know you could do this. (Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds.)
Well and good. But then comes along a Mr. Tom Holt. Holt is a new favorite author, even though I’ve only read one of his books so far. Holt, while close enough in age to have been a contemporary of Douglas Adams, seems to be channeling the deceased Adams in his work. His characters are fresh, funny, and very human, and very, very British. Holt’s theme in Doughnut is Quantum Physics and Multiple Universes, and while not as simple in explanation as would be in a Brockmeier novel, Holt doesn’t go overboard with physics jargon.
Holt does something else, very well. He tells a story, even a complex one, with a simple and straight-forward voice. It’s as though Douglas Adams met Hemingway and the explosive result was Holt. No, now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Tom Hold is another Adams or Hemingway, (time will tell) but there is the odd mixture outrageous Adams-ish language with Hemingway’s short and to the point prose style.
For the whole of the book “Doughnut” (no pun intended), Holt maintains a straight, single, charming and easy to follow voice. As a writer I am envious of such ease and competency. Tom Holt is a new hero. And, you could do worse than starting with the hilarious, and thought-provoking, “Doughnut“.