06 Nov Binge Reading Dan Smith
One of the most fun things I do when I’m not writing is reading. Believe me, writing is not always fun, especially when it just doesn’t flow. So I either exercise to get those endorphins rushing again or I read. Since I write both fiction and non-fiction, I read a lot of each. My goal each year is to read at least 30 books.
I’m polishing up my next novel, Booneville, so I’ve been reading fiction lately.
This summer I binged. I discovered a new thriller author, Dan Smith. Over the past month or so, I read three of his books, Red Winter, The Darkest Heart, and The Child Thief. These books are not for the faint of heart. They are intense, chilling and mostly dark. And I couldn’t put any one of them down. I read The Child Thief in three days.
Smith’s heroes are conflicted characters. Most have done very bad things in the past and when battling the villain they need to do more bad things to survive. Their pasts haunt them but have also trained them for the battle. Smith uses atmosphere like very few authors I’ve read. Both Winter and Thief take place in revolutionary Russia in winter. You’ll shiver right along with his characters. Heart happens in the jungles of South America; you’ll sweat it out waiting and watching the twists and turns.
Besides entertaining me, these books teach me aspects of writing. Obviously, Smith knows Russia. His bio says he grew up all around the world. He must write what he knows—or he’s one hell of a researcher. Any author can do research on the Internet. In one of my books I needed to know the uniform of an Iowa state trooper. I didn’t need to travel to Iowa to find out. But to immerse Smith’s characters into the landscapes of snowy Russia takes an attention to detail beyond web research.
His books also teach me the conflict any hero endures to win the day. And we all want our heroes—however flawed they may be—to win, don’t we? The conflict in Smith books are vivid; and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, he expertly shifts the conflict or adds to it. You don’t know the final outcome until the last page. If you’re like me, you’ll be just a little bit sorry you reached that final chapter. And you’ll go searching for another Dan Smith novel.
Pick up a Dan Smith thriller and let me know how you like him.