January 2011 Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour: Dragons of the Valley, Day 3

Christian Fantasy CSFF Blog Tour

Being the lovely, gracious woman she is, Donita agreed to write a guest post for my blog. In her post, she reveals how her reading habits shaped her writing…so enjoy!

What this Writer Reads

Donita K. Paul

I’m often asked what fantasy books I read, who are my favorite authors, what types of stories resonate with me. I have to quirk a smile at the last one. People who have stories “resonate” with them belong on Oprah, not in a basement Hobbit Hole with jewelry-making stuff cluttering every flat surface including the floor.

(Random thought: When I am stuck in a passage I am writing, I make jewelry. Last year I knitted. Year before that I stamped cards. Doing something creative with a different part of my right brain helps the writing synapses rest and recuperate. I don’t go to the left side of my brain because it has been pretty well determined that I have very little or no left side to my brain. This has been documented in my checkbook with entries reflecting fantasy numbers.)

As to reading fantasy books, I didn’t much as an adult. I read Mary Poppins and The Borrowers when I was a kid, but not many fantasy books that people get excited about. As a mom, I read more fantasy books to my kids. It is then that I discovered E. Nesbit. Look up The Railway Children, Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Story of the Amulet, The Story of the Treasure-Seekers, The Would-Be-Goods, and The Enchanted Castle for some great reads in children’s fantasy. And Edward Eager: Half Magic, Seven Day Magic, Magic or Not, and The Time Garden. I also read to them The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia. That was the extent of my adult exposure to fantasy.

Then I had an infection in my leg and had to be in a prone position with my leg higher than my heart for six weeks. My son brought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (seven volumes at that time). I read them and found them interesting, but as soon as I was allowed up, I returned to my normal reading pattern.

So you see when people say my world-building is fresh, my plots unusual, and my characters out of the ordinary, it’s because I don’t know what I’m doing. I haven’t been steeped in mythology, lore, and decades of fine fantasy fiction. I just kind of jumped in one day, discovered I could float, then took off swimming in a manner that got me there but in rather a floundering dog paddle mode.

Okay, so what do I read? My mainstay before I became a writer was Regency. My recommendation for this time period is Patricia Veryan, who also writes Georgian. I love her intricate plots and delightful characterization. I probably learned a lot from her as I was reading.

Next, on my frequently read genre would be cozy mysteries. I read Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Miss Reed, Patricia Wentworth, Hamilton Crane, Heron Carvic, and others that were on my mother’s bookcase. Do you see how this is not fantasy? If I went by the old adage “Write what you read,” I would be writing mysteries in the Regency era.

For modern day mystery, you will have to go to my Goodreads list. There are too many to name. But the last one I read was Lorena McCourtney’s Here Comes the Bride.

I get asked to read a lot of fantasy for endorsement. Here is a book for you to look for in the near future: Lisa Tawn Bergren’s Waterfall.

Unheard of but good book I recently read: The Dragon Boy by Donald Samson.
Book I am reading at night before I go to sleep: Septimus Heap by Angie Sage.

Favorite non-fiction author is a bit of a cheat. It’s Max Lucado, but the reason I love his books so is he uses STORY!!!! to reveal truths about God.

So that is what this author reads. But there is so, so much more. Like the sign says, “so many books, so little time.”

Donita K. Paul is a retired teacher and author of numerous novellas, short stories, and nine novels, including the best-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles.  The winner of multiple awards, she lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she spends time mentoring and encouraging writers.


  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    January 26, 2011 - 2:35 pm · Reply

    Love the guest post, Donita. How fun to find out what it is you’re reading. I feel I’m like you when it comes to fantasy. I wasn’t steeped in it, but fell in love as an adult, though now I realize the stories I loved as a child were some type of fantasy — Grimms or Hans Christian Anderson, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Brier Rabbit. My all time fav was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

    When I decided to write fantasy, I decided to stop reading it because I didn’t want to copy someone else’s world. I wanted to create my own (imagine my consternation when I find elements of similarity in the stories I read now! 🙄 )

    Sarah, thanks for another “out of the box” post for the tour. What fun this is.



    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 30, 2011 - 12:30 pm · Reply

      You’re welcome, Becky! It was interesting to hear Donita’s reading habits. Unlike Donita, speculative fiction has always been my favorite genre, but I do enjoy reading many others genre also. I think a wide reading scope can prove a great benefit to us as writers!

      Oh, I loved the Brer Rabbit stories and all kinds of fairy tales growing up…I haven’t thought about Brer Rabbit in a while. Now that’s some distinctly American folklore.

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