In the August 2018 newsletter I asked the readers – if you were going to write a book, what would it be about?

Here are the answers:

Tom: Since Westerns are my favorite read, I suppose that would be an area I might try writing about. I have tried to come up with a few ideas to be used for story lines, but come up empty handed when it comes to moving past the opening scenes. I am not really trained to be a writer. And like you said, the research is daunting without knowing where to begin. I think that writing a good story is mostly about research and knowing your landscape completely. Many western writers have lived in the American west and/or lived the life of a true westerner. There really haven’t been many good western type movies since the 1990’s, although I have read a few really good books since then. There are still endless debates about such subjects as Billy The Kid, Custer, The OK Corral, including the Earps and Doc Holiday. For me, I am still searching for those one or two things that might be natural to do, but the clock is ticking faster and faster. I don’t feel strongly that writing is on the list.

Sel: Wanted to respond to this month’s question. I would love to see a female ninja type spy or thief who is a master of her craft, as well as a master pf disguise and a user of several martial arts including krav maga. This character would use her wits and sometimes sex to obtain her aims. I would love for the book to come from her point of view by including the reader in the character’s thought process. And, if she could also be a woman of color like me it would be priceless.

This summer I have fallen in love with Swedish mystery writers and am in the middle of a binge of the series “Martin Beck” by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. I first discovered the tv series at the library and in my opinion the books are even better.

Awna: Thank you for a great newsletter.

Love the story about “Razor”. My son & I were just talking about writing stories & how he would never kill a person that had dogs.

As for looking for books, I usually go from your recommendations or from or from my library app (also the app overdrive).

I just happen to finish the series
Kate Burkholder series (L. Castillo) about a former Amish woman now cop..taking place near my hometown.

as well as
The Fourth Monkey (J.D. Barker)
Baby Teeth (Z. Stage) was creepy as heck…makes you think twice about having kids.

Anyways, I always look forward to your email and also agree with the book…only kind I know how to turn is a cookbook and that is even pushing it 🙂

Chris: What kind of book would I write? Another great question to ponder! I have always found relationships fascinating, especially marriage, so that is something I’d like to write about. As I’d have more artistic license if it were fiction, that’s the way I would go. I always felt that a happy, healthy marriage is one of the best things we can do for our children, if we have them. And, of course, it makes our lives so much richer. So, I would love to explore that in a novel.

Sam: Your subject this month – an intriguing proposition!

I’ve often times thought of subjects that I could (in my dreams) make into good movies. My book ideas have been somewhat more dim. But in either case, when I get these ideas, I always go with the concept of “the story never told”. Something or aspect of somthing that hasn’t been written about before. Here’s why: anybody who reads knows there’s all kinds of, let’s say “thrillers”. Many books about CIA operations or other spy novels, special forces of one sort or another, etc. There’s a lot of murder mystery books and different twists of police and detective work. Romance novels abound and while I don’t read them myself, I’m thiking it’s a similar thing – there’s only so many ways you can twist them. Fantasy is a bit different because it leaves so much more up to imagination, but again it’s fantasy and only so much of it can be real.

I was really inspired by a couple of books that I felt fell into that category. One was as couple of years ago, a book called “The Boys in the Boat”. It was about the 1936 US Olympic rowing team. Now, many people (myself included) possibly think “How good can a book about a rowing team be?” Well, I can tell you, I’m not a rower, I’m not really and Olympic hisotry buff, and I absolutely loved that book. It told so much about the people, the players involved, political situaitons at the time at home and abroad, the Great Depression, the Nazis coming to power – I mean it literally just immersed you into the world of the mid-1930’s from the viewpoint of people you never knew existed, how they survived, and how they became champions.

Another book like that was one called Buckskin Brigades. Very different. This was written orignally, I believe in the 1930’s or 40’s. If you are Native American or First Nation, or have any interest in their history, this is a book for you! At the time it was first written, speaking out for Native Americans or telling “their side of the story” was strictly taboo. So when the book was first printed, the publisher seriously vetted the manuscript and the author, who had grown up amongst Native Americans in Montana was quite upset with the whole thing. Decades later, his new publisher managed to get a hold of the original manuscript and the book is now published in it’s entirety (you can buy it on Amazon). If you want to know what really happened in the Lewis & Clark expedition, what was really going on in the fur trading business, French and English exploration and exploitation of North America, it’s all there.

Okay – enough of my rambling. With that in mind, one subject that really caught my interest a few years ago was how some Jews managed to survive during WW II in Germany and other Nazi occupied countries. A guy was telling me a story of how one of his uncles survived in Nazi occupied Hungary. During that time period, everyone was required to register with thier local government and if you were Jewish, Roma, African, etc. you were either placed in a ghetto or concentration camp, stripped of your rights and so forth. One advantage was back then IDs didn’t have photos. So some people if they had a friend who matched their description, they could borrow thier ID and “register”. However, as this was caught onto, they started requiring people when they registered to come with their food ration books. You see, the food ration books were linked to your ID#, and nobody in their right mind EVER even loaned their ration book to anybody. After all, you were only allocated what the government deemed your family needed to survive, which if anyone has dealt with governments before – let’s say they’re not noted for generosity. Anyhow, this guy was telling me how his uncle had managed to convince someone, actually the guy who married his own ex-girlfriend, to loan him his ration book so he could register as a “non-Jew” and avoid imprisonment. And it worked! I know this is not enough on it’s own to write a whole book about, but probably with some research a decent story could be made of people hiding in plain sight in that manner.

Maybe I can think of more, but that’s what I came up with for the time being…

April: I have long thought about writing a parenting book. I am a pediatrician and I see parents making all sorts of “heart in the right place” mistakes and counseling them 1 by 1 to look at their parenting differently. I’ve thought about reaching many more people through a book – but my communication style is pretty personal, and I’m not sure that would really work without the personal connection.

I just ordered drifter, been thinking about trying Petrie for quite a long time, so decided to go ahead based on your recommendation.

Evelynn: I can never write a book, with so many books out there I can never stop reading them to write a book you pretty much anything else.

Cathy: I enjoyed your article about writing a book. I wrote one, but it hasn’t been published yet. I started it as a last assignment for a writing course. I wrote a children’s chapter book. It’s a ghost story inspired by one of my favorite movies The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Mrs. Muir was a widow who lived with her daughter and housekeeper on the England coast. She became friends with the ghost of a ship captain. In my story, the setting is on the New England coast, and the friendship is between two young cousins and the ghost of a boy from the 1800s. The parents of my main character are lighthouse keepers. The ghost’s parents were the lighthouse keepers back in his day.

Dawn: I have always wanted to write a fiction piece about a woman who was too afraid to go outside, however she could sneak outside at nighttime. During this time she would mess with the neighbors heads…maybe do things for the couple having trouble so they’d fall in love again, or frighte the person being mean to others so they would do something nice! I think the inspiration comes from the fact that I hate the sun and love being outside at night!

To my surprise I came across a similar subject in A. J. Finn’s “The Woman in the Window” this summer. It may now be my all-time favorite book, and written much better than I ever could have written one.

Laurie: Hi Graeme,
First, I find books from “Free Kindle books and tips” by Michael (I forget his last name). Then I get the newsletters from several publishers – Simon and Shuster for example. I wanted to tell you about an author I recently discovered. Her name is D.V. Berkhom. I read 4 of her books in less than a week. I could not put them down. They are thrillers. Her main character, Leine, is an assassin for hire. She kills the bad guys that are trafficking teen girls. She saves the girls (of course).

I read the newest one first, Dark Return. I don’t think it matters what order other than her “personal” life. And even that is ok to read out of order.

I would write a murder mystery. The woman is the main character, owns a business, solves the crimes.

lkalatimer: I so look forward to the newsletter each month. I have written down 2 books to try and one series. Your question for the month is an interesting one. I tried my hand at short stories years ago, but got too many rejections and gave up. Then started a novel, but never finished it. So, now that I have had more experience in life I have different ideas on what I would write. I worked for 21 years in a retirement/nursing home and have a ton of stories in my head that would make a very good series. I also worked as a librarian for 5 years and that would be a great backdrop for a book. Then there is the one that always runs through my head about twins separated at birth and one gets kidnapped and the other dreams about her not knowing who she is and helps to solve the mystery before her twin gets killed. But right now, I much prefer reading than writing. Thanks again for the newsletter and the Reader Mailbag.

Pat: I’ve dreamed of writing a book since I was young. However, just never been sure where or how to start. Also, raising a family had to come first. First of it would be historical fiction taking place just before and during the civil war. The characters would be triplet brothers – two in uniform (one on the southern side and the other for the North) and the third brother being a total, complete pacifist. Then to complicate matters there is the southern belle who, of course, is a conniving user. She married the 3rd brother only to use him -against the other two and for what he can give her. She allows herself to get pregnant only to tighten her hold on him. But when the baby turns out to be a girl – well the story goes downhill from there.

Janet: If I were to actually write a book it would be about how trying the naturist/nudist life for a day can raise your self-esteem and end body shaming. So many people today have been brainwashed into thinking they must be perfect and it leads them to feel imperfect or inferior in some fashion. When you are around other nude people you realize we come in all shapes and sizes and there is no single definition of perfect. Look at fashion over the years where the desirable form ranged from the curvy Marilyn Monroe to #2 pencil shape of Kate Moss and now is in a dysfunctional state of wanting to be both at the same time.

The most common reaction from first time nudists is how relaxed and comfortable they felt and how the lack of clothing meant no labels to stereotype with.

Maybe one winter I will actually write it, but since the weather is nice I will just spend my time at my local nudist resort.

Marion: For 11 of the 17 years I ran our hospital’s seniors’ program, I had a sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Izzy, who wrote a column every quarter for the “Senior Circle” newsletter. It was called “The World According to Izzy”. She also traveled with us on day trips, visited my members in the nursing home, and even attended my retirement party! Members sent her fan mail and gave her small gifts.

I have always been asked when I was going to publish the collection of Izzy’s columns. I have had people tell me they cried and they laughed with tears running down their cheeks over her exploits, especially when it came to telling tales about life with me and several cats. Others told me that was the first thing they read in the newsletter when it arrived in the mail, the heck with all the health and physician articles!

So, Izzy is my inspiration, and since I love to write, she would be the subject of my book.

This year I retired early so that I could spend time with her, but sadly she died 2 weeks after I retired. Maybe she could write a book about “Life From Beyond”?…

Glenda: I loved the book, A Simple Plan, by Scott B. Smith, and the movie with
Bill Paxton. All the murders that occurred because of one decision
was my inspiration.

Years ago I heard an urban legend about a dead cat in a bag in a back
seat stolen by an old women. I wanted to write a back story as to
why the old women was stealing and how the cat ended up in the bag.
Even a short story would have satisfied me. Never could do it.
Reading isn’t the same as writing. The only way to ever accomplish it
is to dream it and transcribe. I have the best movie length dreams.

Shirley: Hi Graeme,
Thanks for the August newsletter, I do enjoy it.
I have a couple of authors, new to me, that I’ve happened upon. One is Jane Harper, who wrote the Dry. Set in Australia, excellent writer, and a first novel, besides. Her second novel is Force of Nature, also excellent.
Clare MacIntosh, UK, I Let You go, I See You, and Let Me Lie. All good, twisty enough for anyone, surprising and extremely well written.

As to your question on writing – yes, I’ve written two books, genre, mystery, self published both and there it ended. Self-publishing means you have to do your own marketing and it was so overwhelming I finally gave up. Plus, they probably weren’t very good. Nevertheless, I did do it – got my words in print! I am content!
Thank you for all the work you put into the newsletter. It’s grand altogether!

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: What Book Would You Write?

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