Hey Author, What’s Your Favorite Book?
What’s your favorite book? As an author, I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve been asked that. And worse? When I’m asked which of my own books is my favorite. My usual reply … that’s like asking which one of my children do I prefer. Okay, yes, I admit I have a favorite son and a favorite daughter, but don’t ask me to choose between my two children.
Yet, if my wife is in earshot, she’ll quickly answer. Her favorite of my books is Indebted, the story of a young girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock in the late 1960’s. The story begins as she wakes up to find her child missing, along with all of his paraphernalia, and continues with a journey full of suspenseful twists and turns. Why is it her favorite? Perhaps because it speaks to a mother’s heart more than my other thrillers.
How do you decide which books are your favorites? Notice I didn’t ask which one is your favorite. That’s a much harder task and most people, like me, will beg off on that question. I can’t be limited to just one. But, again, how do you decide?
Is it the subject of the book? For most of my thrillers, I tackle social injustices, issues that stir me up whether I write about them or not. Human trafficking. Medical kidnapping by the state. Government corruption and control. I want to not only entertain my readers, but get them thinking as well. And yet, do I consider the subject when I read books by others? In honesty, not so much. Yet, that might be because the subjects in so many books are vague or pure fiction, as opposed to my real-life, “taken from the headlines” topics.
Perhaps you can identify with and like the characters. My wife quickly identified with Alice in Indebted. Again, it’s that maternal thing. As I guy, I can easily identify with some of the kick-butt protagonists in the thrillers I enjoy. It’s a form of living vicariously. I love seeing the bad guys defeated, even though I recognize that in real life the hero would likely end up in jail for the actions he, or she, takes. Of course, there’s more to a character than his actions. Real characters, like real people, are multi-faceted and layered. They have emotions, challenges, faults, and so on. They interact with others and how they do can be part of their attraction. As I reader, I can’t identify with a one or two-dimensional character. If they don’t seem real, I lose my compassion for and interest in them. But, getting back to the original question, characters alone don’t define my favorite books.
Maybe it’s plot. Well, this gets closer to the mark for me. I like an intriguing plot, full of twists and turns, ready to put the heroine in jeopardy … a plot that make me want to keep reading. Actually, the kinds of books I like often have more than one plot line weaving through the story. Perhaps there’s one main plot and two or more subplots. Sometimes two story lines share equal billing.
What is it about a story that keeps you up past your bedtime? Well, it’s not someone moving from point A to B. It’s all about tension, and tension comes in many forms. One leading literary agent who studied “break-out” novels – those books that made the author a recognized name – says that such novels have tension on every page. Maybe it’s something as tense as a gunfight or fisticuffs between two parties. More commonly it’s tension in a relationship, or a character fighting his proverbial inner demon, or one character’s rebellious tendencies and refusal to do something another character wants. Sometimes it’s sexual tension, which is, to me, always more interesting than the physical act, on whatever level that is portrayed.
However, a plot isn’t much without characters and vice versa. So, while I like a good plot, I need great characters driving that plot.
What about other characteristics of a book? Does description make or break a book? For me it can, if it breaks the flow of the story. I don’t want to stop for flowery paragraphs of luxuriant, erudite, yet wordy prose just as the action is taking off. Still, I want some description of the location, the character, and more. Enough to help me “see” the scene in my mind. What about pacing? I don’t want a story that speeds up, slows down, speeds up, slows down… I might get motion sickness. A steady pace that accelerates toward the grand finale is good. Or fast-paced throughout. Sentence structure? I recently gave up on a book. Filled with choppy sentences. They dominated the writing. I couldn’t continue. A good book will have variety and when read aloud, the sentences will flow from your mouth.
So, I think you can tell from what I’ve written above that, for me, a good book is a well-rounded book. It has story lines that make you want to keep reading to see what happens next to its great characters. The craft of the writing is well done, so that it doesn’t hinder the storytelling. It’s a book I don’t want to put down until I get to the end, yet, I don’t want to see it end.
Yes, I have a lot of “favorite” books, but I don’t think I could ever whittle that list down to one grand champion. In fact, other than some classics that I had to read twice for different classes in school, I don’t think I’ve ever read a work of fiction twice. It’s not that I don’t think they’re unworthy of reading twice. My reason is that there are so many other books I’d like to read. And regarding those books I really enjoyed, those authors keep coming up with something new and I want to keep up. Which gets me to another question. Who’s your favorite author?
Braxton DeGarmo spent over 30 years in Emergency and Family Medicine, both in and out of the military, before retiring to focus on writing in 2014. Many of the incidents in his books are based on real occurrences, people, and experiences in his own life, such as learning to escape a water crash in a helicopter. And the technologies described in his books are all current…
Fortunately, he did not pull the events of the main plots from his personal life, although they are issues that affect us all. Human trafficking, medical kidnapping, the insanity of Washington, DC, and other injustices have become the premises used for his stories.
He writes from a Judeo-Christian worldview, but he writes his stories to reach and entertain people of all backgrounds. Now, he just needs to find a way to fit his experience with the incredible shrinking woman of Ft. Campbell,KY into a story. Hmmm…
“A Zealot’s Destiny” – coming soon
“Wrongfully Removed” – a medical thriller (MedAir Series #4)
“The Silenced Shooter” – a political thriller (MedAir Series #3)
“Rescued and Remembered” – a thriller (MedAir Series #2)
“Looks that Deceive” – a medical thriller (MedAir Series #1)
“Indebted” – a story of hope and redemption
“The Militant Genome” – a medical thriller
You can find Braxton at:
#braxtondegarmo, #newweeknewface, #NWNF, #azealotsdestiny, #wrongfullyremoved, #thesilencedshooter, #rescuedandremembed, #looksthatdeceive, #indebted, #themilitantgenome