Over at Tor.com I talk about Kim Newman’s Red Reign and all the things I learned from it.
As both a writer and reader I think it’s safe to say that I’ve always learned the most from the books I’ve hated on first reading. Sometimes that lesson has been to avoid a particular author ever after. Other times—and these are the more valuable incidents—I’ve realised I must go back to certain books and read them again. Something, some internal voice far wiser than I, insists, nagging at me until I obey.
These books invariably have one thing in common: they leave a trace in my brain, a hook I simply can’t forget or remove. Something that makes me return to try to figure out what it was that annoyed me so much in the first place. Invariably, again, what I discover is that these books have challenged what I think I know; they shake my long-held beliefs about writing, about history, about literature, about the things I consider to be set in stone. They are tomes that buck the system, flip the bird to my preconceptions, and make me ponder more deeply. They crack open my skull and let light in, they change the way I think—and change is always painful and difficult to accept.
The rest is here.