No story is whole until it’s been read.
That’s why every author wants readers to get sucked into their book. Once you’ve achieved that, the story stops being letters and periods arranged into sentences. It becomes characters, each with purpose and limitations, exploring brand new places. The story escapes the page and lives.
For me as a reader, I find the most effective vehicle into any story is through mystery. It triggers a combination of confusion and excitement that urges me forward and invites me to participate in the narrative.
There’s nothing quite so exciting as the time between putting an unfinished book down and picking it back up; that’s when the wondering and guessing happens.
Sleepwalkers, my middle-grade fantasy, asks the question: Where do we go when we dream?
And guess what, it answers it too!
I take the tricks I enjoy as a reader and employ mystery throughout. I want readers to ask themselves why are all of these bizarre events occurring, how are they connected, and how does a haunted house mystery turn into an other-worldly adventure. Mystery within a story pulls a reader back to the page with a drive to bring everything into clearer focus and understand the story better through each reveal.
Mystery also has a way of introducing you to characters you can never quite be sure of until the very end, and once you get there, you feel sheepish for having ever doubted them at all. Other characters, you will congratulate yourself for being suspicious of. And once the mystery has given you allegiances and enemies, you can explore the larger world they inhabit.
I am someone so prone to mystery, I have a silly habit of making the least mysterious books mysterious by simply starting in the middle. I know this could be considered a huge no-no, but it gives me the opportunity to wonder what came before, an instant mystery.
Perhaps I am experiencing the book in a way the author never intended, but the author is only half of the puzzle. The other half belongs to you.
I don’t believe there is any wrong way to read a book. It will always be a collaboration between the author and audience, which makes each reader’s experience its own mystery.
What mystery will you solve next?
Izzi Breigh, raised by a family of peacocks, grew up on a rutabaga farm. She now resides in a small cottage made entirely of pinecones. Izzi enjoys knitting shirts for starfish, rooms without corners, and peddling time. Her day job is filling hourglasses with precisely the right amount of sand, which she sells for 2 copper pennies every Saturday at her local flea market. Hide and seek is her favorite sport, and though she has repeatedly spotted Waldo, she has yet to figure out where in the world is Carmen Sandiego.
You can find Izzi by following the scent of fresh pinecones or by peeking through any strange magnifying glasses you come across at your own local flea market. Alternatively, she can be found online at:
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