Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wanted: Escapism, pure and simple

In the midst of these crazy (and HOT) days of summer, I found myself looking not only for some escapism in my reading, but also for the feeling of returning to an old friend. I needed to curl up with a story I knew and loved – one with characters I felt at home with and places I could see in my dreams. I put aside my stacks and piles of unread middle grade and YA novels for the last few weeks, and turned, instead, to an old standby.

Two of my favorite stories -- Outlander and Voyager -- are about time travel, history, Scotland, war, love, intrigue, and large red-headed heroes who always (ALWAYS) say and do the right thing at the right time. Gotta love that going back again and again to the story of Claire and Jamie Fraser is sort of like coming home to my favorite, soft blanket and a mug of English Breakfast tea.  

Diana Gabaldon is a most prolific writer with talent for not only characters who seem like they could walk right off the pages of her novels, but also for time and place. Her settings are historical and redolent with detail. When I read her stories, I feel like if I tilt my head just right, I should be able to see the stretch of the Scottish highlands where Jamie escaped from prison after Culloden. If I close my eyes and inhale, I should smell the herbs hanging from the rafters in Claire’s surgery at the clan castle.
So…instead of working on my own books or writing blog entries or studying my genre – I’ve been goofing off. I’ve been using my reading time (and writing time) to escape to the highlands for a bannock or two and a glass of ale with my friends, the Frasers.

Do you have books you return to time and again? What about them – the characters? The setting? The storyline? – makes you snatch them up when you need an escape?

As writers, what can we learn from these books?

Or…perhaps we should just find a beach chair or a hammock and read. Escape. There will be time for learning and writing tomorrow.

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