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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Girl With the Saggin' Tattoo

Pam Ripling, who also writes as Anne Carter, is a self-proclaimed Lighthouse Nut and the author of Beacon Street Mysteries CAPE SEDUCTION and POINT SURRENDER, in paperback or for your Kindle; also for your nook, iPhone, Sony eReader and other formats at Omnilit. Visit Pam/Anne at Beacon Street Books.

For almost two weeks I've grown hoarse talking about my new romantic mystery, CAPE SEDUCTION, in celebration of its release this month. Blow the horns! Throw the confetti! But here at A Writer's Jumble, I'm going to take a day off and talk about another book.

Sometimes I feel like such a fraud I won't look at myself in the mirror. I mean, I'm an author, right? And authors are supposed to read, a lot. At least I tell other aspiring authors that. Read. It's how you learn, as a writer. You should keep up with what's going on. You hear other voices to find your own. Contemporary fiction, new works by established authors, older offerings by new writers. Read it all.

I flush when people ask me who I like to read. They—the real fans of mystery and suspense—know all the names, all the titles, and they expect me, a mystery writer, to nod feverishly in acknowledgement of that latest bestseller or blockbuster series everyone is talking about.

Well friends, I don't. I'm shamelessly (or shamefully?) letting you in on my dirty little secret. I haven't read Twilight or Mockingjay. John Grisham, Michael Crichton and Dean Koontz have never spent time on my nightstand. Ditto James Patterson and Sandra Brown, Sue Grafton, etc., etc.

Part of the problem is, I'm not a fast reader, and I have little time to read at all. I tend to read more small press authors. Peers, if you will. But I recently broke from tradition after listening to family members extolling the virtues of the late Stieg Larsson. I was intrigued, and bought THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO for my nook. I had a lot of trouble getting into the story; too many Swedish names, places, expressions. Too many characters. But I stubbornly stuck to it, and soon (well, a few chapters in) found myself caught up in the story.

The characters are unusual. I felt a motherly instinct over Lisbeth, felt the frustration of those who wanted to help her but couldn't get close. It took me awhile to get Blomqvist's personality, but I ultimately warmed up to him, too. The story kept me guessing until the very end. Although I'd vowed to read something else next, I couldn't stop myself from getting connected to BN.com and within 24 hours of finishing TATTOO I was downloading the one about the girl playing with fire. Already 20 pages in.

And no, Lisbeth's tattoos do not sag, not in the least. I've always sorta wanted a tattoo, but unlike the fictional Ms. Salanger, I fear mine would sag. Maybe I should just stick to living vicariously.

I understand there's a new mystery brewing in Sweden. Seems the late author, who died at age 50 in 2004 after completing three installments in his Millennium series, was well into a fourth. Squabbles over his estate have clouded the whereabouts of the book, whose future will be decided by the outcome of the spat between his long-time partner and his family. Larsson apparently confided in a friend that he had the beginning and ending finished, but needed to complete about 100 pages of the middle. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I'm curious to know: do you peruse the top ten, or just rely on word-of-mouth of friends for recommendations?

Reminder: To celebrate the release of CAPE SEDUCTION, I'm holding a contest! All you have to do is read the CAPE SEDUCTION excerpt and leave me a relative comment—you'll be in the drawing for FIVE Echelon Press eBooks of your choice, downloaded onto a really cool 2GB flash drive! (Or a $25 gift card to B&N, your choice.) Drawing will be on my last blog tour stop. See schedule at my website!


  1. Hi Jackie,

    Stieg Larsen drives me nuts. I get involved in his stories, but think his writing is awful. At first I blamed it on bad translation. But by the second book, I realized that he needed an editor. If you see the film they made of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you'll see how the story could benefit by being cut, literally, in half. I think my stylistic concerns can best be understood by reading Nora Ephron's short parody in The New Yorker.

    Like you, btw, I am a slow reader. But I get a lot of reading done thanks to the gift of insomnia. I usually wake in the middle of the night and take an hour or two to read before drifting back off. A great way to get through the bedside stack.

  2. Craig, I have to agree. There are mountains of unnecessary details in the book I just finished. Little details that make you think, "is this going to be an important fact later?" but they turn out to be nothing but possibly setting enhancement. Not to mention that Mikael and Lisbeth must have downed 350 gallons of coffee.

  3. Pam, you mention your contest, but you don't give us a link to the excerpt. Where is it?

  4. Wonderful post!

    I'm a fast reader and go in spurts. I don't often read the latest craze either, it could be a new book or something older than me :P

    As to tattoos, would love some..but I worry abt the future sagging or wrinkles too!

    Happy Writing!

    jen wylie

  5. Though the excerpt can be found on Pam's website under the Cape Seduction tab, I added a link. Just click on the word "excerpt" and it should take you there.