Playing with the Big Boys

Holly_noiratbar This past Sunday night, I was invited to read a passage from Diary of Bedlam at the first Noir at the Bar L.A.

Eric Beetner, Stephen Blackmore, Josh Stallings, and Duane Swierczynski also read. I suppose it's appropriate to ask the question: Including my own, which of these names are not like the others? You guessed it: Holly West.

I'll be honest. I was terrified to read my work in front of this crowd. Not only was this to be Diary of Bedlam's first public outing, my work is considerably fluffier than the pull-no-punches, skulls-blown-to-bits stories these guys put out. I love reading the hard stuff, but I don't write it because when I do, it's trite, derivative, and fake. I'm a big believer in knowing your strengths, and playing them up to the hilt.

Not that I don't also believe in doing something new and challenging once in awhile.

So with that said, I did the only thing I could: I donned a push-up bra, black leather boots, and pretended like I knew what the hell I was doing.

For the most part, it went well. I certainly have no regrets, though I still wonder if perhaps I could've picked a better passage. That was the hardest part, you see–figuring out what to read. What best represented the tone, characters, and story of Diary of Bedlam? I'm not sure I nailed it, but the passage I picked at least did the job.

One thing I learned from this experience that I will certainly be putting into future practice: Reading your work aloud is an excellent editing tool. I'd heard this before and had even done it a little whilst editing Diary. But now I kind of think that every scene in every novel, every story, should be read aloud because it's easier to identify superfluous words and passages that don't work when you hear them, not just read them.

Many, many thanks to Eric Beetner, Stephen Blackmore, Aldo Cacagno, Josh Stallings, and Duane Swierczynski for letting me play author for a night. Makes me think someday I might be doing it for reals.

Holly West

3 Comments

  1. We loved having you and I thought the passage gave a good taste of the story. I loved having a different voice in the mix. We learned too that night and I think mixing up the genres a little is something we will continue to do.
    Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Eric. I agree it’s a good idea to have something a little different, and I hope you keep inviting unpubbed authors now and then. Can’t wait for the next Noir at the Bar LA (NABLA?)

  3. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there and hope to find time to attend at least once during my lifetime.
    I’ve heard nothing but good things and I have no doubts about your reading being just as specacular as the rest. They say you kicked ass, and I believe them.
    I’ll be adding a push-up bra and leather boots to my packing list for Bouchercon. Thanks for the tip.

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