PnPAuthors Promotional Magazine 

  July 2015 issue

Page Two~

Charles Ray's Corner~


Don’t you just hate it when you have to make a choice between two equally desirable things (or people), and for the life of you, it’s impossible? A real bummer, ain’t it?

Well, I’m that way whenever I’m in a situation where I have to choose my favorite writer.

First of all, I write in more than one genre, so picking just one writer that I like, and who has influenced me is impossible from the outset. I write westerns, and Louis L’Amour is my top choice in that genre, hands down.  I also, however, write mysteries, and there I have a problem – a big problem.

My mystery novels, in general, tend to fall somewhere between Mickey Spillane and Elmore Leonard – sort of noir and gritty – with a touch of Robert C. Parker thrown in for good measure. While I like the work of all three of these esteemed gentlemen, rest their souls, I’m actually more influenced by the work of two contemporary authors, and I can’t choose between them.

I’ve been reading Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone mysteries for years, and a few years ago I discovered Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. Both authors use humor to good advantage, Evanovich with sledgehammer-like blows, and Grafton like a deftly thrust stiletto, witty dialogue and just enough description to enable you to see where the main characters hang out and do their thing. Kinsey and Stephanie are alike in some ways, and a universe-apart in others. Both tend to be loners, but Stephanie seems to handle her alone-ness better than Kinsey. Kinsey is an orphan with relationship issues, while Stephanie has an extended family, but still has relationship issues.

And, dear reader, I find myself madly in love with them both. There’s Kinsey, the slightly unkempt girl next door who has a secret wild streak, and Stephanie, the girl from the other side of town with a wild streak a mile wide, and I can’t choose between them. You know why that is? Because Grafton and Evanovich are both masters of the mystery genre, and I can never decide whose style is more to my liking. When I want inspiration just before beginning another of my Al Pennyback mystery series, I pick up one, but as soon as I finish, I have to read the other – I don’t feel fully inspired until I do. After Grafton’s Alphabet Mystery, I have to have a shot of Evanovich’s obsession with numbers.

I suppose I should count myself lucky – two great writers inspire me. So, why do I feel like I like I’m cheating?

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