What I Learned About Writing from Reading Books by Greg Iles

Reading Greg Iles is learning.png

Greg Iles is one of my favourite authors right now. I remember the day I was first introduced to his work. I was in my office and a colleague from down the hall came and asked me if I read. I thought it was a strange question, who doesn’t read? I answered, “Yes”, and she asked me if I wanted her copy of Turning Angel by Greg Iles. I said sure and then freaked out a little.

You see, up until this point, most of the books I’d read were either self-help or written by Sophie Kinsella, author of the hilarious Shopaholic series, whom I also love. When I read the back of Turning Angel, which is about murder, rape and an affair between a prep school girl and a prominent doctor, I decided it was time to broaden my reading scope and started reading the book that night. I don’t regret it for a second!

As a budding fiction author, I like to analyze why I enjoy a book. I’m the kind of reader that if I don’t get hooked by at least Chapter 5, then I stop reading. Greg Iles did not disappoint. I was hooked from the get-go and loved the protagonist so much that I read all the other Penn Cage books. They were all amazing!

Books by Greg Iles - Pinterest.png

So, here are the top reasons I enjoy Greg Iles’ books so much as well as what I learned from them and try to emulate in my own writing.

Compelling Characters

I fell in love with Penn Cage in that first book I read. I loved what he stood for, loved the relationships he had with the people in his life, and loved that he was always the one people turned to for help. In my book, Murder Audit, I tried to create a character in Cynthia Webber that my readers will fall in love with. Someone they can relate to, someone they feel for, and maybe someone they’d look up to.


Many of the Greg Iles books I’ve read, if not all of them, take place in Natchez, Mississippi. I’ve always been drawn to the South even though I’ve never visited there. As a small town Canadian girl, Mississippi and Louisiana have always been on my destination wish list. I can’t really explain why, maybe because they’re just so different from where I live. Reading a story set in Natchez made it that much more appealing to me. I thought it was really cool that Greg Iles lives in Natchez too!

When deciding on the setting for Murder Audit, I knew I wanted an oil town, but I was torn between Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Calgary, Alberta. In the end I settled on Calgary because I lived there for two years and experienced first hand what the booming oil patch was like there. I hear you should write what you know, so that’s what I did.


The plot in Greg Iles’ books never disappoints. It’s exciting and fast-paced. There are twists and turns you don’t see coming. I almost never stop reading at the end of a chapter because they end leaving you wanting more, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This was my goal in Murder Audit. I don’t want my readers to put the book down at the end of a chapter. I want them to keep reading to see what happens, so I tried to make the chapters end on a high note.

I’m certainly not a pro like Greg Iles but I will keep reading his books and learning more as I do. More of my favourite titles by Greg include The Devil’s Punchbowl, The Quiet Game, and The Natchez Burning Trilogy.

I’d love to know who your favourite author is. Tell me in the comments.