Writers Writing Writers

Paige Shelton knows that the best stories often come from very bad days. Read on for Paige's list of books with a writer (often having a bad day) as the protagonist, and check out Paige's new mystery in her Alaska Wild series, Cold Wind, available now!

I like it when writers write about writers—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, actually, it seems the best stories aren’t about the good. It’s just not as much fun to hear about those days—the days when the words flow, everyone who reads their books gushes and loves them, and nothing interrupts the creative process. It’s the bad days that give us the best stories.

The protagonist of my Alaska Wild series, thriller writer Beth Rivers has had some really bad days. After being kidnapped and then escaping her captor’s van after three days, she ends up with lots of bumps and bruises, brain surgery that leaves her with a nasty scar, and an urge to run away to someplace she thinks he’ll never find her again. Unquestionably, it’s the worst of Beth’s days that give her some of her best stories.

Here are some of my favorite books about writers and their bad days:


10. The Thirteen Tale by Diane Setterfield

Reclusive writer Vida Winter brings in a biographer to finally share the details of her tragic past. It’s difficult to nail down an exact time period when the events in this book take place—after reading the book I learned that Ms. Setterfield did that on purpose. At first, that’s why I kept reading, but then I fell into the story and loved the surprises and twists. It’s different than what I usually read, but I’m glad I gave it a try.


9.Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

For a long time, I didn’t even know this was a book. I first saw the film with Michael Douglas and was delighted the entire way through. The main character, Grady Tripp, makes writers’ block seem almost charming. Come to find out, it was first a book by Michael Chabon. I enjoyed the book when I read it, but I really love the movie and Michael Douglas’s portrayal of Tripp.


8. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

So charming! Writer Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her new story. She not only finds a subject but a community that will warm your heart. Set on the island of Guernsey in 1946, this book’s time period and characters are perfectly written.


7. The World According to Garp by John Irving

Again, another book I read after watching the movie. Robin Williams was brilliant as Garp. All the characters in this one are multi-faceted. Though it might be hard to accept that one person, one writer, could go through as much as Garp does, it all rings authentic.


6. The Shining by Stephen King

Stephen King is, of course, a master at what he does, and I’m sure I’d love this one no matter what, but it’s hard not to think that Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of author and off-season hotel caretaker Jack Torrance and his unhinging aren’t the main draws for me.


5. Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz

I enjoy most of Koontz’s books, but this one about mystery writer Martin Stillwater is a favorite. I was on the edge of my seat from the first page and I couldn’t read fast enough. It’s gruesome and terrifying, and who doesn’t love a good government conspiracy?


4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

You’d be hard-pressed to find a female writer my age (somewhere in the middle of it all) who wasn’t inspired by Josephine March of Louisa May Alcott’s most beloved of stories. Her life was full of challenges and adventures of the time and made you want to know what she was writing about. I’ve read the book a few times and seen all the movies. In the most recent film, Jo is portrayed as an even stronger woman, more confident writer, than she’s ever been. I like that change—let’s call it an enhancement. It might not be a stretch to say that Jo March is why I wanted to become a writer.


3. The Ghost Writer by Robert Harris

I loved this book. I enjoyed the movie too. The secretive nature of simply being a ghost writer, the writer who does all the work but doesn’t get the credit, lends itself perfectly to this political thriller.


2. The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan

The first book in the Good Thief series by Chris Ewan. There are five books in the series, but I wish there were more. Charlie Howard is not only a mystery writer, but a thief-for-hire. The stories in the books are compelling, but it’s the added touch of humor that keeps them high on my favorites list.


1. Misery by Stephen King

An all-time-top-of-all-my-lists favorite, King does what he does, and this one strikes all the right chords for me. The story, the characters, the winter weather and treacherous conditions. Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes will be in my head forever, and I’m glad to have them along for the crazy ride.

Thanks for letting me stop by today, and happy and safe holidays to everyone!

More: Read an excerpt of Cold Wind by Paige Shelton

Chris Wolak’s review of Paige Shelton’s Thin Ice

About Cold Wind by Paige Shelton:

Beth Rivers is still in Alaska. The unidentified man who kidnapped her in her home of St. Louis hasn’t been found yet, so she’s not ready to go back.

But as October comes to a close, Benedict is feeling more and more like her new home. Beth has been working on herself: She’s managed to get back to writing, and she’s enjoying these beautiful months between summer and winter in Alaska.

Then, everything in Benedict changes after a mudslide exposes a world that had been hidden for years. Two mud-covered, silent girls appear, and a secret trapper’s house is found in the woods. The biggest surprise, though, is a dead and frozen woman’s body in the trapper’s shed. No one knows who she is, but the man who runs the mercantile, Randy, seems to be in the middle of all the mysteries.

Unable to escape her journalistic roots, Beth is determined to answer the questions that keep arising: Are the mysterious girls and the frozen body connected? Can Randy possibly be involved? And—most importantly—can she solve this mystery before the cold wind sweeping over the town and the townspeople descends for good?

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