Max Allan Collins wrote the award winning graphic novel Road to Perdition
. His new Hard Case Crime novel, The Consummata
is out today! Here's an essay Collins wrote for Boing Boing, titled, "Who Do You Read?"
WHO DO YOU READ?
By Max Allan Collins
As a published writer, the question I get even more often that the venerable (and stultifying) "Where do you get your ideas?" is the one posed above.
Readers always want to know who you read, for reasons I've never quite figured out. Of course they mean currently publishing writers, and I suspect there's a kind of wish that their personal list will match mine, and everybody will be able to bask in a glow of vindication for sharing such great taste in literature.
But I read almost nobody who's current. I have a few friends whose work I keep up with, and thank God they are very good - among these are Ed Gorman, John Lutz, and Bob Randisi (there are others) - but mostly I avoid everybody else. Occasionally I serve on a committee for the Mystery Writers of America or the Private Eye Writers of America, and plow through a current stack of novels. Now and then some author gets so popular I have to break down and read a book or two to see what the fuss is about. But that's marketing, not entertainment.
There's a basic "busman's holiday" reasoning behind this. If I'm working on a suspense novel all day, why should I relax by reading...a suspense novel? A guy who works at the ice cream shop doesn't go home and say to his significant other, "Let's go out for hot fudge sundaes!" Actually, that's a bad example, because I would probably do exactly that, and plenty of drunks have sought (though rarely kept) jobs as bartenders.
Let's start over. Here's the real reason: all other writers fall into the following categories: worse than me, so why should I put myself through it; as good as me, so why should I bother; and better than me, and, well, screw those guys.
Read the rest