Janet, welcome to Writers on Reading! I love your first book’s title, Heaven’s Prey. Are you drawn to suspense books, or what do you look for when choosing your next reading adventure?
Thanks, Deirdre. This is such a fun concept for a blog, because sharing our favorite books – and discovering new treasures – creates a special kind of wonder.
Okay, this is sad, but right now the way I choose what to read next is "what's been waiting longest in my to-read stash?" Because I have a lot of friends or contacts who are writers, I hear about lots of books, and I really need to catch up on what I have before buying more. (Easier said than done!)
It's the story or situation that first catches my interest, but it also has to have strong characters. Adventures are my favorite, contemporary suspense, science fiction or fantasy. Basically, I read fiction for fun, and I pick stories with happy endings, either Christian fiction or clean mainstream. I usually have a non-fiction book on the go too, on some aspect of spiritual growth.
Sounds like good reasons to pick books. What was the most out-of-character book you’ve recently read, and what led to your choice?
Right now I'm reading The Twelve Little Cakes, by Dominika Dery. It's a memoir of her childhood in Prague. I don't read memoirs very often, especially from someone who's a new name to me, but last year my husband and I took one of the Viking River Cruises in Europe and finished with a trip to Prague. My mother read this book and passed it on to me after our trip. I'm only half-way through, but I'm enjoying it.
Wow, what a lovely trip and a great reason to pick a book. As a writer, you should know better, but as a reader, you know we all do it…so, when did you last “judge a book by the cover”? How did it work out?
Hey, as a writer, I actually agree with that statement. Covers are an important way of hinting at what's inside, both in content and quality, and they're the first point of contact with a new-to-me author. Maybe I've missed some amazing stories because of this, but if the cover looks poorly done, I move on. That's not to say the cover sells me on the book, but it gets me to read the back cover copy and decide from there. Once I know I like a certain author, the cover still matters for enjoyment, but it won't be a deciding factor in whether I read the book. The most recent book cover that's captured me is A Reluctant Assassin, by J.C. Morrows. I haven't read it yet, but I have high hopes.
Heaven's Prey definitely sells me on cover and title alone. So I know what you mean when you say you agree with judging a book by it's cover. Your third suspense book, Without Proof, is releasing in November. I’m wondering did you have time to read while working on these books? If so, what did you read? If not, did you treat yourself to a book when you handed this one off to your publisher?
"My name is Janet Sketchley, and I read too much." Is there a support group for me?
There were times during the writing when I definitely cut back on my intake, especially when I was discovering the plot and characters for my own books, but I somehow still read enough to post a book review each Monday on my blog. During the discovery stages, I chose novels in other genres so I wouldn't find them creeping into my own stories. I'm reading more science fiction and fantasy these days, and they were my go-to books. I'm actually my own publisher now, so when I sent the file for Without Proof off to my editor I had to put on my marketing hat and get right back to work.
Makes sense, and I have to cut in, um, actually, yes there are support groups. I’ve found a few that really make me…empowered to be read too much. Oh, you wanted ones to help you stop. Not helping there! So…back to the interview. What was the last book you absolutely couldn't put down? Why?
I'd have to say Cloak, by Timothy Zahn. It's a near-future techno-thriller with plenty of action, and a good, clean read. Why was it un-put-down-able? It's a strong story in its own right, but for me it also delivered a strong dose of nostalgia for the experiences I had reading thrillers in my teens, when yes, the stakes were high, but I could jump in, let my guard down, and enjoy the ride without fear of what I'd encounter. I need a strong sense of trust in the author for that, plus a story that's intense but that I can view with a bit of emotional distance, like a puzzle. (Not that I solved this one!)
Did a book recently make you laugh or cry?
As a testimony to the value of reading outside of our regular genres, The Twelve Little Cakes had me laughing out loud last night. It's not a funny book overall, but there's a hilarious anecdote. As for sadness, both Patrick W. Carr's A Draw of Kings and K.M. Weiland's Dreamlander had moments of great sacrifice and courage that tugged at my heart and may have generated a tear. (What is this? I write Christian suspense, and not one book I've mentioned so far fits this genre!)
Were you the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading? (And do you still have a copy?)
I used to bring home 10-15 books from the library, against my parents' advice, but the books all went back on time – and having been read. I think the first book I remember reading was a Bobbsey Twins mystery. I remember sitting in the kitchen, spelling out the longer words to my mom for help. The first novel that really stayed with me is Anne of Green Gables, and yes, I still have a copy. The Bobbsey Twins are long gone, though.
You and I have to read Anne of Green Gables---anything else is practically grounds for treason. When did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire?
As a child I wanted to write, and I started a truly horrible imitation of Walter Farley's The Black Stallion. Then I got interested in romances, and made some equally bad attempts at those. I guess whatever genre I was reading at the time influenced me. It was science fiction by the time I hit creative writing assignments in school, and then I stopped writing for a while. It started again when I couldn't get the idea for Heaven's Prey out of my head.
With autumn fast-approaching, what is on your cozy to-read list? And what is your ideal fall reading experience?
I don't think I'll be reading much in September, because I'll be finalizing edits for Without Proof and getting it ready for November publication. In October I'm looking forward to a new Christian suspense from Lisa Harris, Vendetta, plus a few of the suspense novels waiting on my Kindle app. Clearly I need to find some balance, after reading mostly out of my genre this year. Ideal fall reading experience? A good novel, a tall cup of chai tea latte (maybe Pumpkin Spice, from David's Tea), and if the weather's turned chilly, a pair of fuzzy socks.
If Ruth from Heaven's Prey were to pick a book from today’s shelves, what do you think it would be?
Ruth's more of a non-fiction reader. I think she might go for Emily P. Freeman's new book, Simply Tuesday. It's about celebrating the small, ordinary moments. It's on my to-read list, and it may jump the queue instead of waiting, because the message is consistent with what I'm learning right now.
Sounds like a great book…and fun to know Ruth’s choice! Thanks for visiting with us, Janet. It was soooo fun to get to know you as a reader! Folks, you can continue to connect with Janet, and find out more about her books, at the following links!
Janet Sketchley lives in Atlantic Canada, where she writes Christian suspense novels and blogs about faith and books. She loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca, and fans of Christian suspense are invited to join her writing journey through her monthly newsletter: bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.
Buy links and bonus features: janetsketchley.ca/bookshelf/
Amazon Author Central: www.amazon.com/author/janetsketchley