USA Today and Amazon best selling thriller author Rebecca Forster started writing on a crazy dare and found her passion. She has written 30+ books and published for such houses as Penguin/Putnam, Harper Collins and Pocket Books. Rebecca is married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and is the mother of two grown sons. She has taught at the esteemed UCLA Writers Program, is a seasoned speaker at conferences, and volunteers to bring the love of writing into middle school classrooms. To get to know Rebecca and see all her books, read excerpts and download book club guidelines, visit her website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Technically, my bedside table is a four-drawer, bow-front, mahogany mini-dresser. On it is a brass lamp with an ecru-colored pleated shade. Travel books, novels, pens and notes from my children fill each of the drawers. Currently on the tabletop are the following:
1) Magazines: Bloomberg, National Geographic, Bon Appetite, Saveur, Better Homes & Gardens, Forbes, Threads, Vogue Pattern Magazine, and my favorite, Mental Floss.
2) Business cards
4) Notes to myself
5) Newspaper clippings
6) The instruction book for my sewing machine
7) Business books for creative people: Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath, Crossing The Troll Bridge: A Marketing Guide for Artists and Writers by Robin Blakely.
9) My Kindle
Frankly, though, I consider my entire bedroom to be my “bedside table.” Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves flank a brick fireplace in the bedroom and the shelves are filled. So is the long narrow table under the bank of windows. So is my husband’s matching bow-front mini-dresser. We are a reading and writing family.
When I am writing, I read magazines, manuals, and anything that is not directly related to my work. Reading nonfiction pulls my overwrought “thriller-writer” brain back to the real world. It is fun to have quick information about a myriad of subjects at my fingertips.
When I am not writing, I read all sorts of books in all sorts of formats: digital, real books, and even drafts of works-in-progress from fellow authors.
The books on my Kindle are my travel books. No matter where I lay my head in the wide world, there is a bedside table and my Kindle is there. I read my first Indie book, Devil’s Lair by David Wiseheart on my very first Kindle. Devil’s Lair is an intricately crafted book of historical fantasy.
The most recent additions to my Kindle include The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots of a Hidden War by Greg Marinovich, a book by and about the photojournalists covering the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Broken April by Ismail Kadare is a novel about an Albanian blood feud. I spent six weeks living in Albania and another few weeks visiting. My fascination with that country’s ancient code of laws became the basis of my book, Eyewitness. Reading Kadare’s classic only deepened my interest in the country and its traditions.
There are always a ton of thrillers on my Kindle too. I love a twisty, inventive, unusual read. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Clean Kill by Conrad Johnson, I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, and The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton are a few of my favorites. I am a huge fan of authors who push one envelope or another and all of these novels qualify.
On my bookshelves are paper and print, dog-eared and much-loved real books. Most of them are novels that I keep to reread because the author has a talent to which I aspire. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and Immortal L.A. by Eric Czuleger are not only imaginative reads that introduced me to new genres (vampires and magical realism respectively), but these two authors have a command of the English language that leaves me breathless.
Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White (1859) — considered to be the first legal thriller ever written — was ground breaking in its time. When I read this book I am reminded that good procedural fiction relies on two things: an understanding of the system one is writing about and the necessity to humanize it by creating characters with depth. I adore Collins’ touches of humor and his ability to create a world that I can relate to even now.
The History of American Law by Lawrence M. Friedman is a huge book that begins with the pilgrims. Being a legal voyeur, I can never get enough information about our amorphous justice system. Who wouldn’t love knowing that at one time, rats were actually prosecuted for murder? The rats’ lawyer argued that his clients could not be present in court because many did not live in the jurisdiction of the crime and hadn’t seen the summons. Believe me, nothing an author can make up ever comes close to the amazing things that happen in real life.
Finally, rotating on my bedside table are books about the psychology of serial killers and the DMS-IV, Diagnostic Manual and Statistics of Mental Disorders. These books not only inspire new stories, they help me create believable characters, and satisfy my insatiable curiosity about the way the human mind works.
All the books in my bedroom have been on my bow-front bedside table at one time or another, stacked and listing, a veritable Tower of Pisa of entertainment, inspiration, and curiosity-satisfying stories. I am grateful to the authors, journalists, and writers whose voices are the last I hear before I sleep, who keep me company when I cannot, who travel with me and inspire me. My books are wonderful companions, and I can always find another inch on my bedside table for one more friend.
Did she have you at the fireplace in the bedroom too? Then all those legal thrillers? What would you add to this reader/writer’s haven?