What I read this month

Short and sweet: November proved to be a flurry of activity — not the least of which was my getting Covid — which once again put a damper on getting to read as much as I wanted to.

I know… you’d think that getting Covid and having to isolate for days would lend itself to reading more. But I spent more time than I would’ve expected clearing up email, prepping and planning for writing my next novel (weird to be saying that) and getting to some other electronic To Do stuff, so here we are.

I’m continuing to read Telling Lies for Fun & Profit by Lawrence Block and just started Spill Zone, a graphic novel collection written by Scott Westerfeld, Illustrated by Alex Puvilland and with Colors by Hilary Sycamore.

While Telling Lies is continuing to inspire me in ways no other book about writing has, Spill Zone is proving very evocative in terms of fueling creative fires. In it, two catastrophic events happened in different parts of the world, now called Spill Zones, whose cause was never fully conclusive. Was it a burst of radiation mixed with nanotech? Some kind of alien attack? Theories still abound, but no one’s sure. All that’s certain is that the areas are officially off limits due to the known dangers and otherworldly events there. And with so much yet still unknown but not worth the risk of investigating, the government isn’t taking any chances.

But that’s not enough to keep away Addison, a young woman now playing mom to her altered younger sister since their parents were caught at ground zero, the hospital where their parents worked, when the event took place. Since then, she’s been breaking the rules by going into the spill zone to get unparalleled photographic evidence of the weird goings on there. An unknown benefactor has been paying good money for those photos, and now finds Addison in person and offers to pay her more money than she ever thought possible — more than enough to finally get the right help for her sister, more than enough to make life livable without needing to keep risking herself in the spill zone for money — to find something deep inside the one place Addison has sworn she’d never go: The hospital where her parents were when the event happened.

There are certain stories, told certain ways, that go above and beyond in spooling up my imagination, and Spill Zone is doing that very effectively right now. It’s the kind of story I wish I’d come up with, and not in the way of every fictional story I enjoy and has had at least the success of getting published (*ahem*), but in the way of certain scenarios I read where I know I’d just like to play in the sandbox of the world the writer has created.

An unknown event with weird, mysterious, often creepy results, explored by an insatiably curious protagonist irrecoverably connected to it? That’s a really cool set-up with endless opportunities for a writer to explore.

Looking forward to seeing where the story goes.