Tag Archives: Reading

Reading for Fun and Profit


I make no apologies when claiming to love reading. I was reading before I went to school, thanks to my parents reading to me every night.

All writers start out as readers. If someone tells me that they write books but don’t read them, I can’t help but wonder how he knows to construct a sentence, a paragraph, a story arc, and how to avoide clichés and stereotypes. How does he know what genre he is writing in, and what is already in that that genre.

So, a successful writer has to be a reader, for many reasons. Reading is the gateway to being a writer, any sort of writer. Off the top of my head, I read for:
1/ Pleasure;
2/ Research;
3/ Inspiration;
4/ Even more research (I do a lot of research); and
5/ Educational purposes.

Reading for research! You need to research for both fiction and nonfiction texts. I’ve done enough research to fill a library with historical detail for my Steampunk novels; and I still feel like I’ve never researched enough. I find it is easier with my scientific articles, because I can list my references!

Reading has physical and intellectual benefits apart from supplying inspiration and verisimilitude to your prose.

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This is why I have ten bookcases in my house and shelves packed with a double layer of books.


Filed under Books & reading, Creativity, Inspiration, Research, Steampunk, The Writing Life

One for the Bibliophiles

How lucky are we as bookworms today? At any given moment, we can jump on Amazon (or another website), buy a book, and read it seconds later. Or, if you’re a paperback purist, all you have to do is wait a couple days for shipping or take a quick trip to your local bookstore or […]

via How Books Connect the World — Kate M. Colby

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Filed under Books & reading, Uncategorized

Tag, I’m it!

Steampunk Author, Karen Carlilse tagged me into answering a series of  questions about time travel and books.


See her original post at:


What is your favourite historical setting for a book?

This is a bit like being asked who your favourite child is. At the moment, I would have to say 1871, in England and Australia, since that is the setting for my current work-in-progress. However, I would have to say my next favourites would be Edo-period Japan and Medieval China. I love the religion and mythology underlying these cultures.

What writers would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Oh, can I make a comprehensive list?

Isaac Asimov straight up. Mary Shelley. Mary Somerville. Charles Dickens. Kipling. H G Wells. Jules Verne. J M Barrie. Diana Wynne Jones. Terry Pratchett (though I have met him). I could go on and on.

What books would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

So, what age is my younger self? Can I give twelve year old me my entire library I have now? If I have to pick just a few: The Willow Tree’s Daughter by Pamela Freeman, all of Barry Hughart’s books, The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, everything Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman ever wrote, everything by Angela Slatter, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and a list of recommendations for future purchases.

What book would you travel forward in time and give your older self?

Dear me. I’d rather my older self travel back and give me her list of reading recommendations.

What is your favourite futuristic setting for a book?

Pern, created by Anne McCaffrey.

What is your favourite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

I will never be limited to just one book. Dodger, by Terry Pratchett, set in Victorian England, or any of the Barry Hughart  books set in historical China.

Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book to see what happens?

Sometimes. Mainly if the book is a little dull or confusing, and I need to see if the journey is worth it. Infrequently, because I am too terrified and I need to see if the book has a happy ending.

If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

I would go back to meet the Three Marys: Mary Somerville, Mary Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft, and Ada Lovelace/Charles Babbage.

Favourite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods.

The Time Machine by H G Wells is original and best! Though I am also a big fan of Doctor Who books. (Well, Doctor Who anything really. I run Osgood LIVES on Facebook).


What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (because that would mean Terry Pratchett would be still alive).



Filed under Australian Steampunk Author, Books & reading, Personal experience, Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Victorian Era

You are what you read; A Steampunk Perspective

Read by Doctor Steel

As sayings go, “You are what you eat” is accurate. However, I would argue that every book you read also changes you, so that you are what you read. You can’t help but be changed, particularly if you are one of those people who ‘live’ a book (like me).

The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read. – Terry Pratchett

This is an excellent reason for reading, well, just about everything! Don’t read just in your genre. Read textbooks. Read romances. Read newspapers and magazines (even the ones you would never pick up normally). Read Literary award winners. Read graphic novels and most certainly read comics. You will learn so many new things by reading outside your genre, and not just facts. You will see different ways of storytelling and discover new tools for your writer’s toolbox. You will be feeding your muse with plenty of inspiration.

Read inside your genre. Try new authors. Read books that relate to your genre; in my case, anything and everything to do with the Victorian era, and everything to do with science. You will learn how to see the structures and themes that underlie your genre, and how to avoid the clichés and stereotypes of your genres (or you can always turn them on their heads). You will be feeding your muse with plenty of inspiration.

As a writer, feeding your muse is just as important as sitting at your desk and writing. A writer has to be a hungry omnivore of reading matter. And don’t just limit yourself to reading hard copy, as there are plenty of famous short stories and books available for free on the Internet.


Filed under Steampunk, Steampunk Genre, writing

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

This is probably the closest thing I have to a single, simple life rule: Garbage in, garbage out. This basically means the more effort and planning you put into something, the greater the rewards. This rule works for my diet, my exercise regime, my relationships and my lifestyle. It also works for writing, in particular, what you should be reading.

Chained Books

Many years ago, I was on a writing forum when a rather pompous gentleman declared he never read any books, and he wrote perfectly good novels. At the time, I was in awe of him and his confident demeanour. These days, I think that he was a misguided dolt. Why this change in my attitude, you may ask? Experience and training.

I have been a judge for the Aurealis Awards, on and off, over the past few years. This meant I got to read everything in a certain genre, good, bad and indifferent. I could see the coming trends (I knew that zombies were going to be the next big thing before they were the Next Big Thing), I could see how old ideas could be turned on their heads to create something rich and new, and I could see where writers had been trying to write into a genre where they had no familiarity of the tropes or what had already been achieved. It gave me a good grounding in what was happening my genres.

If you don’t read in your genre, how are you going to know anything of this? You don’t. You can’t. You’re writing into a vacuum, and most probably reinventing the wheel. It might be a fabulous wheel, but everyone knows what a wheel looks like and won’t be too interested or excited. As well, when you don’t read in your genre, you can’t understand all the tropes of that genre; which would be like building a house using nothing but nails because you’ve never heard of screws. It can be done, and it might look great, but it might not hang together as strongly as it should.

The gentleman who never read might have been writing excellent stories, but they would be out of step with his chosen genre.

Please don’t think that ‘garbage in, garbage out’ means that you only ever have to read quality writers in your chosen genre(though there is nothing wrong with that). Reading lighter material can feed your muse. Reading in other genres will give your writing depth of understanding, particularly if you read nonfiction. Even reading the newspaper can inspire you.

To be a writer, you have to write. But you also have to read.

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Filed under Books & reading, Getting Started, Personal experience