Lori Titus is a Californian with an affinity for dark fiction. Her work explores mysticism and reality, treading the blurred line between man and monster. She thrives on coffee and daydreams when she isn’t writing or plotting out her next story.
Her latest releases are The Art of Shadows (The Marradith Ryder Series, Book 2), and Blood Relations, a paranormal tale of religious fanaticism and murder in a small town.
Ryan Lieske: Thank you, Lori, for taking part in La legado vivo! What is the first book you remember reading, or having read to you?
RL: What is the book that sealed your fate as a lifelong reader?
LT: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I didn’t know I would become a writer at that point, but I really loved how that story transported me to another world. I haven’t picked it up again in years but I probably should!
RL: A lot of people tell me that, even if they were a voracious reader as a child, it was their middle-school and high-school years that had the most impact on the reader they are today. Would you say this is true for you?
LT: Yeah, I already was a voracious reader by then too. I remember reading I Am the Cheese in middle school and that having a real effect of me. I think it was the first story I read with an unreliable narrator.
RL: Speaking of this time period, were you one of those kids who went rogue from the curriculum and read whatever you wanted, sometimes even ignoring what was assigned to read altogether?
LT: I really was bored with most of the things presented in class. I was always reading something on my own though, so that helped me endure the things I didn’t want to read which were required for class. Sorry, I still hate The Great Gatsby.
RL: Haha! I get that one a lot. What is it about that novel that you hate?
LT: It just seems to wander. It hints at things without really stating them. And from the beginning of the story, I’m not even sure why I should be following this person around. In my opinion, those are big failures on the writer’s part.
RL: Did your reading life ever supersede or cause conflict with your social life growing up?
LT: I never really went out with other kids a lot, so other than the occasional outing I filled up my time with reading and writing. I was a kid who loved to go to the library and stock up on reading for the week, but I didn’t spend long hours there. I would go and buy a bunch of used books whenever they had a sale.
RL: What new books, literary styles, or genres were you exposed to in college?
LT: The Bell Jar was one that stuck with me, though I would like to read it again one day from a more grownup perspective. I started reading more narrative non-fiction in general around that time. Until college I didn’t read much non- fiction unless it was history. I also became a more critical reader and slowed down a bit. I learned to analyze more and enjoy some of the details and that make up the tapestry of a book.
RL: Tell me about your first bookstore experiences.
LT: Barnes and Noble! They are still open, but as you know, fading. I loved Borders too, which has gone by the wayside. These days I buy online or skim the aisle at the library.
RL: Did you find, as you grew older, that the books of your youth began to mean less to you?
LT: No, they didn’t come to mean less to me, though I did begin to see that some of them were not as great as I thought they were to begin with. A book can be like that guy you fell in love with who was trouble; there are some problems here and there, maybe some sloppy tendencies, but you still remember them fondly.
RL: Love the metaphor. So true.
How has your reading life survived adulthood?
LT: I did go through a period of time- maybe five years or so—when I really wasn’t reading much anymore. And I found that I missed it. I started making time to read. And I also gave myself a rule that I wouldn’t get irritated with myself if I didn’t manage to finish a book in a few days like I used to when I was in high school. I started sneaking in pages on lunch breaks, at breakfast, at night, and during television programs.
RL: Currently, what types of books are you mostly drawn to?
LT: Some of everything. Fiction—particularly dark fiction—will always be my favorite, but I am also reading memoirs, romance, fantasy, and science fiction.
RL: Can you give me two or three titles that particularly stand out recently?
RL: How do you share your love of books with others?
LT: Usually by posting a review on Amazon and quotes from books on Facebook. I recommend books to people, and a lot of my friends are readers so they will try them out. I’m not a book club person though; I know I would stray from the recommended reading.
RL: I’m one of those people who reads several books at a time. I’ve been called a “reading polygamist.” Are you? Or are you pretty monogamous when it comes to reading?
LT: If they are very different genres, I don’t mind reading more than one at a time. I’m currently reading a book of weird short stories, and a non-fiction account of climbing K2.
RL: Now, I’m not a big fan of the term “guilty pleasure.” However, for want of a better term, what are your literary guilty pleasures?
LT: Guilty pleasure? Hmmm. Why be guilty about anything fun? I don’t think I have one.
RL: What are your thoughts on “genre?”
LT: I do think labels help when it comes to marketing. People like to know exactly what they’re getting. If you want to read an urban paranormal zombie love story, it helps to find that book that checks all the right boxes!
I think the only downside is when publishers get carried away with pumping out a million books of one genre.
RL: Are you a physical copy person, or do you prefer other ways of “reading” books, such as e-books or audio? Does the “delivery system,” as King calls it, matter to you?
LT: These days it’s mostly an e-reader for me, and sometimes I like to listen to books on audio. But I still keep my physical books too. I like being able to use different formats at different times. One thing about a regular book is that you don’t have to worry about charging it! But I love e-books.
RL: Do you take a book with you wherever you go?
LT: I don’t take one with me everyplace I go—but if I am headed out to somewhere I am going to be waiting for a while I definitely will.
RL: Do you collect books?
LT: I do have a bookcase full and boxes packed with more books. I find having my favorites around are convenient. I like to pick them up and read a few passages from time to time.
RL: What books―and they don’t have to necessarily have to be all-time favorites―do you feel have influenced you and shaped you the most: as a human being, as an artist, etc.?
LT: There are definitely a few that shaped my own style. Tananarive Due’s My Soul to Keep was such a deep, sweeping epic with magic, immortals and prophecies, all tied to legend and bits of African history. Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favorites for its blend of action, fantasy, and romance. Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. I love writers who have a lyrical rhythm to their writing; and I love all the complications that come to play in romantic relationships.
RL: Have you ever read a book that made you cry?
LT: Ooooh. I don’t know if I actually cried but I got really close. I have had a couple of books that I just couldn’t finish. Stories about slavery or the Holocaust really upset me. I won’t name them, but there are a couple of really famous ones in that vein which I will never complete
RL: Lastly, just for fun, what is the one book―be it a widely lauded classic, or bestselling popular phenom―do you find absolutely unreadable?
LT: Oh goodness. There was a vampire book someone once sent me for review that was just awful. It was poorly written, excessively bloody, and just downright disgusting. I don’t mind blood or gore. But if it’s just one violent scene after another without a plot, I have to pass. I refused to review it, because if I had it would have been the first one star I gave anyone, ever.
As for well lauded, world renowned books that I just hated? The Grapes of Wrath wins the prize. Beautifully phrased, but still the most depressing, unrelentingly boring, painful book. I remember quietly hating my middle school English teacher for making us read it. I can’t be the only person who feels that way.
RL: Thank you for discussing your reading life with me. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
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