To be a writer, you must have a love of books or the very least, stories or composition. After all, the work of other writers, whether we want to admit it or not, serve inspiration for our own wild musings. I have a modest library of books that I have carried from place to place decade to decade that has grown with travel. In it, you will not find most classics, although I do have a beat-up copy of Dickens A TALE OF TWO CITIES. But where my Library and that of most writer’s collections meet, whether its signed first editions or mass market paperbacks, the two most important things are the authors and the tale they weave.
The authors? Really, I thought it was all about the story?
Yes, but with each author comes a separate style and molding of a tale in a specific voice. In my library that can be the New England voice of Robert B. Parker, the southern fantasy of Robert R. McCammon or the Midwestern quirkiness of John Sandford. Each of these authors gives a voice to their demographic and geography. My library is not limited not to International bestsellers but wonderful works by independents like B.E. Scully who hales from Oregon or the Californian known as Gene O’Neill. Writer’s like these are the hidden gems in the mass market we now live. Sadly, shrouded by the mediocrity that surrounds them. But here’s the thing, once you push past the Stephanie Meyer-Stephen King wannabes and see all the original ideas out there by so many talented storytellers, you will find yourself bowled over by the wealth of new and exciting work. Oh, and if you’re a follower of Stephen King's rantings about Stephane Meyers, you’ll understand why I put their names in the same sentence. Take that Steve.
As if he’s actually reading my blog. Ha!
Back on track. I have picked up a lot of my books over the years, many signed, from the charming F. Paul Wilson to the brilliant Joseph Boyden and the equally brilliant R. James Steel. I love most genres, although I’m not much in romance or young adult. I confess that I have no interest in reading Harry Potter, although I acknowledge J.K. Rowling is a treasure brought to this world through perseverance. Young adult falls into a category of which I just don’t relate, but now that I am a grandfather, on more than one count, I will probably jettison that particular prejudice.
In my library, I have horror science fiction, mystery, true-crime, history, and anthologies. In writing my two upcoming books, I have become friends with the true-crime writer and Ted Bundy expert, Kevin M. Sullivan. I think after you write three books on a subject as dark, enigmatic, and monstrous as Ted Bundy you get that status. Sullivan has written four. This guy knows his stuff. If he’s not chasing down information on a new project or road tripping the movements of a serial killer, he’s offering his expertise in documentaries.
My library consists of three bookshelves and only the books I love stand there waiting to be picked up, drawn open and revisited. Maybe not the whole book but a chapter one morning before a stint of writing. Maybe that piece of storytelling where Virgil Flowers breaks up a dognapping ring in John Sandford’s Deadline. Oh, and I must remember to check back on the naked Ross Delvin who stands before a television playing a future reality game. Poor Ross, wondering whether his bowels are going to eject the previous evening's bean burrito meal and thwart his chance of getting to the next level of competition in B.E. Scully’s, THE EYE THAT BLINDS.
Yes, treasured stories, those books kept for love, memory, laughter, horror, escape and even research. I am not going to drop every name I have in my library, but like my fellow book junkies, I have affection for the ones I keep.
As I tie up this rather short blog which is really just a tête-à-tête about books, I would like to pose a challenge to all of you out there who are going to read this. Go to your personal library, pick something that you have held onto for the reasons I have stated and crack it open. This should be something you read and kept, and it can be in whatever genre. Yes. Even romance. And, if you feel like sharing, drop me a line and tell me why.
I’ll leave it there, with a shortlist of some my favorite authors and some of their works. Some friends, some strangers, but there’s always an intimacy when they tell you a story. So, are they really strangers?
Catch you next time.
In no order or specific rank or category, but none the less enthralling and absolutely incomplete because there are so
many more I can’t list for lack of time and pixels.
Michael Connelly – Angels FlightJack Olsen – The Man with the Candy
Gregory L. Norris - Tales from the Robot Graveyard
Dean Koontz – Odd Thomas (all of them)
Joseph Heller – Catch 22
F. Tennyson Jesse – The Saga of the San Demetrio
Silvia Pecota – In Remembrance of Our Fallen (Poetry and Art)
Firbolg Publishing – Birthing Monsters 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley (Poetry and stories)
Gord Rollo – The Crucifixion experiments
Joe R. Lansdale - Jackrabbit Smile (Hap and Leonard)
John Douglas and Mark Olshaker – Mindhunter
Richard Bachman – The Long Walk
Stephen King – Apt Pupil (My first King book)
And I could go and on…