Patti Sprinkle is one of the most energetic women I've ever known! Since I've known her she's moved several times, served as president of Sisters in Crime, organized numerous SinC booths at conferences, gotten an advanced degree, toured tirelessly, and, most importantly to her legion of fans, written many books. Patti will be at the Cary Library on Friday, March 12, to talk about her most recent book, Hold Up the Sky. Even though she says this one is not a mystery, I know there will be something to solve included—and I know I'll like it!
Good Readers are Great to Find
by Patricia Sprinkle
Why do so many people introduce themselves to me as, “I am just a reader”? Do they not realize how many readers every writer needs?
Readers are the people who keep us searching for exactly the right word to best tell our story; who cheer our spirits on dreary days with four magic words: “I love your books”; who, like writers, think there is nothing crazy about wanting to know intimate details about the lives of imaginary beings.
My characters are as real to me as my husband and children, but my husband and children never ask, as readers do, “Whatever happened to Joe Riddley’s parrot?” “Did Sheila Travis ever marry Crispin?” “Is Katharine Murray going to dump that insensitive husband of hers?”
If you have unanswered questions from some of the books, ask away. I’ll tell you anything my characters have told me.
One mystery I have not solved is why some people are readers and some are not. What made a reader out of you? For me, it was Mother—who later became a reading specialist—circling words in newspaper headlines when I was very small: in, to, go, with. Mother was not fond of phonics, she felt a reader ought to gulp words whole or at least a syllable at a time. She had me reading by age three.
Readers are a special breed of humans. We identify with Maureen Corrigan in Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading when she says that in the middle of every special event there comes a moment when she thinks, “I’d rather be reading.” We stop by the library on the way home from the bookstore and know we won’t live long enough to finish the to-be-read stack by the bed. We utterly understand whoever it was who said, “Whenever I have money, I buy books; when I have more money, I buy food.”
Where do my readers come from? I get clues from occasional e-mails: “ I found three of your books at a garage sale.” “My mother, who lives in Georgia, sent me four of your books for Christmas. I read them and got so homesick, I am moving back to Georgia.” “My sister passes me all the books she has read and she sent some of yours.” One of my favorites was, “I was on the Queen Mary and found your book in their library. Loved reading it on the cruise and will get more.” When I get the travel bug and don’t have money for a ticket, I can now close my eyes and picture my books cruising the world. I hope they have as much fun traveling as I’ve had writing them.
It is good to get, once in a while, to hear, “I found your books browsing the bookstore and have now bought them all.” After all, books bought at garage sales and passed along by sisters don’t pay royalties, and writers do like to eat.
I hope mystery readers will follow me as I shift for a time to general fiction. Hold Up the Sky, my first non-mystery in a while, comes out March 2. I threw in a small mystery and one body, but this is the story of four women in crisis who discover that true strength comes not from independence but from interdependence. I know avid mystery readers will read all the mysteries in your stack before you open a general novel. I know that because I am one of you. But give this story a try. You might like it.
Meanwhile, I lift my iced tea glass to readers—to those who read a book and let the author know if they like it; to those who recommend books to family and friends; to readers who work in libraries and bookstores, helping others find books they will enjoy. And while she will blush when I say it, “Here’s to Molly Weston for devoting a large part of her life to generously befriending authors and readers and to putting us in touch with one another.”
When introducing yourself to an author, say proudly: “I am a reader.” And if you have time, write a comment on this blog to let us know what made you the reader you are. After all, you are what keeps us writers writing.