A day or two ago, I stumbled across the infamous murder case dubbed the Black Dahlia. In the winter of 1947, Elizabeth Short, a twenty two year old wannabe starlet from Boston, Massachusetts, was brutally murdered. Her body had been found on the 15th of January severely mutilated. The gruesome murder of Elizabeth Short, referred to as the Black Dahlia, was highly glamorized in the Los Angeles media. The crime remained front page news for ten weeks running however justice was never served, her killer never identified.
James Ellory, writer of famous works such as L.A. Confidential and The Hilliker Curse, published The Black Dahlia novel in 1987. The novel focuses on the murder of Elizabeth Short but also highlights the criminality that ran rife through Los Angeles in the 1940’s and 50’s. As the case of the Black Dahlia interested me I began to become more interested in the writer. Yesterday morning as I was surfing through YouTube, I came across an interview featuring Ellroy. In an interview with TIME magazine, Ellory was asked ten questions written by TIME readers. One query that particularly stood out in my mind and inspired this blog post raised the question: ‘Are people born good writers?’, to my surprise Ellroy answered no. His response was in order to become a good writer you must:
“Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read and read. And as you read for enjoyment and edification, unconsciously, you assimilate the rudiments of style and technique and when it comes time for a person to begin to seriously write, they either have it or they don’t. The level of artistry can be advanced, chiefly, through hard work but you have to read, read, read, read, read, read.”
So that got me thinking maybe, just maybe, I should read.
My novel, as you no doubt have heard me say time and time again, is a crime/law novel. So what better books to read than books are in the crime/law genre? Unfortunately for myself, the first name that came to mind was John Grisham. I read one book by Grisham previously before this week. It was called ‘The Partner’. I loved it…that is in the beginning I loved it. It was a bit slow in parts for my liking but most of the time he had caught my attention. My mother was a fan at one time as well. We were both reading the same book and it had been going so well that my mother, prematurely, bought a few more of his books. We then tragically came to the ending of the novel and from that point on I had decided never to pick up a John Grisham book again.
I decided to bite the bullet and try Grisham again. I borrowed a copy of the ‘Runaway Jury’ from my cousins house and dug in. I won’t lie, some parts did not inspire me to continue to turn the page however I was given a lot of insight into how a jury is selected and other tedious parts of a criminal trial.
Taking another step of faith I’m going to give John Grisham’s ‘The Client’ a go. Pray all goes well (please). But hey, if you wanna become a good writer you have to read, read, read, read, read, right?