This Writer’s Life by Drusilla Campbell
About four years ago, my sons and husband pooled their money at Christmas and bought me a Kindle e-book reader. They were taking a chance because they know how much I love books in their hardback, trade or paperback forms. They promised to take it off my hands if I didn’t like it.
I was a doubter to begin with. I tend to have a very “hands on” relationship to books. I own a copy of the first volume of Joyce Carol Oates journals. It’s a huge volume and I read it cover to cover with pencil in hand, jotting questions and comments in the margins. When I reached the end, my hand and eyes and brain exhausted, I felt as if I had been in conversation with the woman for weeks. I’m not crazy about her novels, but her journals were an exceptional experience for me. If I’d read them on my Kindle, it would have been a much less involving experience. I also have the habit of jotting sentences and phrases I like on the endpapers. For this reason many of my books are worthless for resale. I wasn’t sure I could change my reading/jotting habits to suit my new Kindle.
I own the first Kindle model and eventually I will buy up to the Cadillac version, but for now I feel loyal to my little Model T reader that has given me hundreds of hours of pleasure. It has encouraged me to buy books I definitely would not have if I’d had to search them out in a bookstore or even online. For example: three weeks ago I gave myself two hours on a Saturday morning to read back copies of the New York Review of Books that were growing whiskers. Not only do I enjoy many of the articles in the NYRB, but turning the pages, I read the book ads with as much longing as if I were hungry, walking down a street lined with bakeries, delicatessens and wine shops offering samples. On that expensive Saturday morning, my Kindle was at hand and in the space of ten minutes I had ordered three books I would otherwise have forgotten about. I am now something of an expert on middle class Parisian life between the world wars and the better for it!
Impulse buying is what happens with a Kindle.
I read big books because I have a Kindle. Normally I pass on Stephen King because my wrists are weak but my Kindle weighs less than a pound and is perfect for bedtime reading. If I enlarge the print to the max, I can even read without my glasses . Justin Cronin’s The Passage is a heavy one I read on Kindle but I will also buy it in hardback. Seeing it in my bookcase will be like a smile from an old friend. Its physical presence will remind me of how much I enjoyed a literary writer’s take on zombies.
I’m delighted when I hear someone has read The Good Sister or Blood Orange on a Kindle. It is true that most publishers take way too big a bite out of the price of a book downloaded to an ereader. Authors are currently getting screwed, but that will change in time. As an author, what matters most to me is that people read my books and get enjoyment from doing so. I try to write books that make people question their assumptions and I try to take them into the hearts of characters they might otherwise dismiss. This can happen with an ebook or words etched on a stone tablet. But one is more convenient than the other.
Drusilla Campbell is the author of 16 published novels. Her recent works include the best-selling Bone Lake and Blood Orange and the critically acclaimed Wildwood, Edge of the Sky and most recently, The Good Sister. Critics and fans describe her novels as”piercing”and “intense.” They“surprise and capture” with characters so real you’ll want to “call them up and invite them to coffee.” Before she started school she had crossed the Pacific Ocean three times. In her twenties she lived in Europe and Central America. Today she’s happy to stay at home in San Diego with her husband, the attorney and poet Art Campbell, two rescued dogs, and four horses. An in-demand teacher and lecturer, Drusilla is the creator of NovelCram, a weekend boot camp for fiction writers and has taught and mentored writers in San Diego for more than twenty years, including classes on the Novel and Science Fiction/Fantasy Writing for San Diego Writers, Ink where she is the current Board President. Her next book, Little Girl Gone, will be published in January 2012. Visit her website.