Why follow the crowd? I don’t understand authors who insist on writing to formulae. Yes, there is a place for formulaic writing – for those who don’t want to concentrate. I remember as a teenager spending many a Saturday morning in the bath with a Barbara Cartland or Mills and Boon. I knew within an 90mins I’d be finished the book and would have some peace and quiet before the onslaught of family life again. As an adult, television programmes such as Poirot and Murder She Wrote, allow me to get on with other things whilst keeping an eye on what is happening – I know I’m not going to miss a vital clue. But when it comes to reading, I want to break from the mould. I want each page to be a discovery and to challenge my thinking. I like writers who break the mould.
Authors break the mould in different ways. You never know what Doris Lessing‘s next book was going to be about and in what style, although it does appear that aspects of feminism are a common theme (no guarantee though). Similarly, John Samson has not (yet) written two books in the same genre or style. And then there’s Sue Hampton‘s two collections of short stories.
Others break the mould through their experiences or have a message to pass on:
Mark Brookes’ play POETS Day is a hard-hitting story he wrote as a message to his son.
Problems faced by African writers – Binyavanga Wainaina
Heaven’s Rage – Leslie Tate
And recently I heard about John Boyne who has written diverse works such as The History of Loneliness and The house of special purpose as well as children’s books. He’s now on my list (thank goodness he was highly recommended to me – I don’t think the covers would have convinced me).