Ronald Kidd ~ March 2018

Reading Nonfiction
to Write Fiction

I write fiction, but much of what I read is nonfiction, especially history, biography, and science. I’m always on the lookout for people, places, and ideas to write about in my own books.

Here are three nonfiction books that inspired middle grade novels I’ve written, and then thumbnail reviews of three recent books that might pop up in future novels.

Nonfiction Books That Inspired My Novels

Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?
The Carter Family and Their Legacy
in American Music

by Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg

Lord of the Mountain, by Ronald Kidd
Coming Fall 2018

Nate Owens, growing up in Bristol, Tennessee, longs to escape his father’s eccentric church. When recording pioneer Ralph Peer and the Carter Family show up in town, Nate thinks he may have found a way out.

Freedom Riders:
1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice

by Raymond Arsenault

Night on Fire
by Ronald Kidd
Click here to read more

When Billie Sims and her friend Jarmaine Jones witness the burning of a Freedom Rider bus in Anniston, Alabama, they set out in search of freedom and justice on a bus ride of their own.

The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

by James Gleick

The Year of the Bomb
by Ronald Kidd
Click here to read more

Caught up in the filming of 50s horror classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, friends Paul, Arnie, Oz, and Crank respond with paranoia and decide they have sniffed out an atomic spy: the mysterious Cal Tech professor Richard Feynman.


Recently Read and Enthusiastically Recommended

Symphony for the City of the Dead:
Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad

by M.T. Anderson

A remarkable book, this is billed as nonfiction for teenagers but in fact is for anyone who loves music and the lives it touches. I had heard the Shostakovich Seventh Symphony and knew it was about the World War II siege of Leningrad, but I didn't realize the extent to which Shostakovich expressed the pain, horror, and triumph of those beleaguered millions. The story is brought to life by photos and documents on nearly every page.

The Gene: An Intimate History
by Siddhartha Mukherjee

I don't know if this is the best book I've read in recent years, but it may be the most important. It's an exhaustive and story-filled exploration of genes: what they are, who discovered and studied them, and how, through science that's developing at breakneck speed, genetics will shape our lives in the near and distant future. Also highly recommended: Mukherjee's previous book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

Leonardo da Vinci
by Walter Isaacson

All of us have heard the expression Renaissance man, but until youve read about Leonardo, you have no idea what it really means. Born out of wedlock, denied schooling, he nevertheless rose quickly to prominence through sheer talent and curiosity. Most people know he revolutionized art, but did you realize he was a pioneer in botany, anatomy, architecture, music, theater, and a dozen other fields? We learn something amazing on every page. Isaacson is making a career of writing about so-called geniuses Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, Steve Jobs and all his books are worth reading. 

My Novels   Click here for a complete list

  • New: Room of Shadows 
    Edgar Allan Poe returns and gets the glorious death he deserved. 
  • Recently published: Dreambender 
    In a dystopian future, dreams are controlled and the world is a better place. Or is it?
  • Fall 2018: Lord of the Mountain 
    The “big bang” of country music in 1927 at Bristol, Tennessee
Learn about my books, plays, and music at
Download a sampler of chapters from my three latest books.

Copyright © 2018 Ronald Kidd, All rights reserved.

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