Pizza comes in all sizes, shapes, and desires. Ooey Gooey. Crisp. Stuffed pizza. Thin crust. Stuffed crust. There’s the soft, flaky crust, wood fired oven crispy, bubble crust, a butter crust, and many more. We all have our favorites. Some of our likings have probably changed over the years too. When I was younger, I loved the thin crust piled with cheese, sausage, onions, and green peppers—the oil glistening and pooling on top of the pizza. I’d eat the tiny crust ends and then go for the middle squares. Being a Chicagoan, Giordano’s stuffed spinach pizza was also a favorite of mine.
In my 20s, my friends and I went to Las Vegas. I didn’t have much money with me, so one evening, while a few friends saw a live show, another friend and I stayed in the hotel room and ordered pizza. It was the worst pizza ever. The crust tasted like cardboard, and the uncooked fixings were piled on top. At that time, I swore I’d never order a pizza outside of Chicago again.
Now, I’ve experienced pizza in Spain and Italy, and I’m in love with it. The first time I had a super thin crust pizza was at an Italian restaurant in Spain. It was a big individual pizza, but not as filling as the pizzas I grew up eating. The crust is extremely thin with crisp air bubbled sides, and thin layers of toppings. Sauce and cheese doesn’t smother the crust. When we make pizza at home, we try to get the crust super thin.
My love of pizza has changed over the years, similar to my books. The first books I read were Sidney Sheldon’s (also a Chicagoan) romantic suspense novels. I refused to read anything other him, until I reached for a Mary Higgins Clark suspense novel, and Victoria Holt’s gothic romance. Holt wrote in several genres under different pen names. These authors were the stepping-stones to various other writers and works, but at the time, I was hooked on their writing of romance and suspense.
As I recall, the only descriptive writer was Holt. The sad thing is, I can’t recall my favorite books of these authors. What I do remember is how the books glided along without in depth description. They kept my attention with suspense. From there, I moved onto Sandra Brown, another suspense writer with just the right amount of description for me. It’s no wonder my first novel turned out to be a dark, psychological suspense thriller.
Nowadays, I tend to read a lot of literary fiction; stories about ‘real’ people living or battling extraordinary lives. These are the reads I love, and for some reason can’t branch out. My favorites being, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; The Red Tent by Anita Diamant; and I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. The things these writers have in common are lush characters, they can paint a picture without purple prose, and their stories consist of courage, love, trust, and strength. Since I began reading for enjoyment, I realize that I’m not one who likes too much description, which sometimes can create redundancy. The layers of these stories are evenly distributed, not too much stuff on top of the main plot, and the right amount of character build to hate or love them.
Looking back at the changes in my life, the one thing I realize is how my writing reflects my reading styles—how reading adventures have transferred into my own writing. As a writer, I try to focus on building characters, making them flawed, likeable, and in some cases, hated. I’m also one who tries to spread description out to build characters and plot without leaving clumps along the way. All I can hope is that readers like my writing style.
How do you like your pizza? Do you read books loaded with description? Does your writing reflect your preferred reading style?
Pizza, Reading, and Writing,