Jenny’s Reader’s Manifesto
The Joys of Binge Reading Podcast is the brainchild of historical suspense author Jenny Wheeler, who in addition to blogging and podcasting is hard at work on her first indie trilogy – Of Gold & Blood, set in 1860’s California – due for publication early in 2018.
The Joys of Binge Reading is for anyone who’s ever found a book they loved so much they wanted to keep reading more about the characters and world they populate. You don’t want to leave them! And often – let’s face it – these books are lighter genre reads – stories with great characters, lot of emotion, mystery and action – books that others dismiss as ‘low brow.’
They might be romantic suspense, historical mystery, historical romance, crime and mystery thrillers – and of course the huge category of fantasy and paranormal. They’re the fun reads we often don’t mention when someone asks us ‘what are you reading?’
Since I first laid hands on a book – and I don’t recall when that was – I’ve been a passionate reader. They used to call us ‘book worms.’ And those formative years as a child on the central North Island farm (New Zealand didn’t get TV until I was a teen – imagine!) convinced me like nothing else that reading was a “guilty pleasure”.
What. Reading Again?
My Dad’s family were legendary hard working farmers, and reading books was not considered to be a productive activity. Countless times as a child I jumped when I heard my father coming home on the tractor and raced out to the kitchen to look busy by offering my Mum a hand. If Dad caught me reading his refrain was always ‘What, reading again? Haven’t you got anything better to do?’
In the years since I binged on Enid Blyton (I so wanted to be George in the Famous Five) and Georgette Heyer, I’ve studied the classics at university and gone through passions for the “greats” – from Walt Whitman to Thomas Wolfe, Thomas Mann to J D Salinger. And the women – many women – Doris Lessing, Maxine Hong Kingston, Angela Carter, Virginia Woolf.
When I entered university – against my parent’s best intentions – I would stand at Auckland University’s chapel-like doors and inhale the air as if was holy, because to me it was. ‘So many books, so little time!’ I wasn’t so much interested in following my compulsory course reading, as following my heart – and my exam marks showed it!
So fast forward more years than I care to admit to, and I’m doing it again it seems. Defending my right to read what I like, when I like. They’re talking about the Netflix phenomena – binge watching encouraging binge reading, but I think those of us who were ‘book worms’ have always binge read. And with E books it has all got that much easier.
The New World Of Digital Disruption
When I was in mainstream journalism, (see PS below if you’re interested) digital disruption saw me at one time have five different general managers in fifteen months as publications were bought, sold and closed. Now publishing is going through a similar upheaval. Once upon a time indie published books were ‘vanity’ books, not good enough to be accepted by a traditional publisher. Not any more.
Now authors as well as readers have the freedom to publish what they want, and read what they want – and some indie authors are beating the trad pubs to the top of the best-seller lists. And many of us, while we respect the books that win the ‘literary’ prizes, can finally put up our hands and admit it – we love to binge read our favorite genre fiction. It’s a great way to relax after a hard week, after a big project, or after stressful exams. And we’re demanding from the authors we love – like George R Martin – keep giving us the stories we like. And it’s been made easier than ever before by E Books.
Wired magazine reported (May 2017) that the internet’s favorite joke since around 2012 has been to yell at George R R Martin ‘whenever he’s found to be doing something other than furiously typing. The animating theory of the joke is that it’s his duty—his imperative—to finish the story he began.’ (The piece concluded the TV show has eclipsed the book and become the Game of Thrones canon, so no he doesn’t.)
Every week on The Joys of Binge Reading I’m interviewing successful authors who write books people like to binge read – series books, or single titles following a theme or inhabiting the same world. We’ll ask them about their inspiration, their story worlds, what the fans tell them about why they like them, and what books they themselves take “guilty pleasure” in. We’ll also interview some fanatical fans, and get their recommendations for the best of genre in numerous categories and sub categories. We might even delve into some strange byways – Amish science fiction anyone?
Love To Hear Your Suggestions
Just a few provisos. The selections will reflect my interests and tastes. If I’m interviewing someone I feel I need to be personally enthusiastic about their work. I’ll be upfront right now and say we won’t be having any erotica, S and M romance, (frankly I’ve heartily disliked the trend to heavier S and M influences in mainstream romance) or horror, because I just don’t enjoy reading those genres, and I don’t feel I could do the interview justice.
If you’ve got suggestions to make about your favorite author, or you’ve anyone you would particularly like to see interviewed, please drop me an email in the connect box below and let me know.
I’ll be publishing show notes which summarise the interview content and suggested resources, recommendations and links on The Joys of Binge Reading blog and a fuller report of the interview on the blog at jennywheeler.biz. Please feel free to sign up for reminders on either the podcast or the blog if you are interested.
PS: An addendum: for for those who are interested. . . My foray into writing fiction follows a 25-year-career in newspaper and magazine journalism, during which time was a general newspaper reporter, a magazine features writer, and founding editor of two successful national publications – a Sunday newspaper and a house and garden magazine which became market leaders in my homeland of New Zealand. I rounded out those years as the first woman editor of the NZ Listener. And then I went on to found and run a health products company with my partner Tim Bickerstaff where I got my grounding in digital publishing – writing numerous web pages and blogs. Tim died in 2009, but I kept on growing the business. I sold out at the end of 2015, freeing me up for this next adventure.