Edited: Random Number Generator has ordained that Number 9, Rachel445, is the winner of both The Exile graphic novel and Kadrey's newly released, KILL THE DEAD. Rachel445, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your snailmail addy and I'll send them to you directly. Congratulations!
I’m beginning again.
Meaning, I’m starting a new book. You might assume from the title of this post that I’m waiting for inspiration to strike so I can start churning out pages, but alas, it doesn’t work that way for me. I have to go out and seize inspiration around the neck if I want to get anything done, though that doesn’t mean I’m not inspired by a myriad of different images, ideas, headlines, conversations, faces, and dreams. I’m inspired by all those things, and collect them constantly so that I generally have a plethora of great mental toys to play with by the time I sit down to write.
But this is a blog for readers, not writers, so instead of emptying my writer’s toolbox out in front of you, I’m going to tell you about my greatest source of inspiration, and the one thing I turn to again and again when all other options fail me:
I read widely and voraciously, so when people ask me what my favorite books are, I generally shoot them a faux-shocked expression and explain, “Why on earth would I play favorites with *books*?” Ditto, when they ask me who are my favorite authors. I need a bit more help than that, like … can you narrow it down to just one genre?
So I figured that with a like-minded group reading here at SU, I’d clue you all in to two of my favorites* - who, not coincidentally, both have releases this month - and you guys could go out and buy their work in droves and they would find out that I am the reason for their spike in sales and I’d get to be the heroine to both writer and readers and everyone gets their HEA, amen.
Or, you know, you do your thing. I do mine. They do theirs. And the world-at-large is better for it.
The first author has been a favorite for years. A favorite *and* a mentor. Diana Gabaldon is the esteemed author of the OUTLANDER series, and I can honestly say I learned more from her about writing than from anyone else (via the Compuserve Writer’s Forum, which I frequented for about eight years prior to being published). Mostly I learned that I can’t *be* Diana Gabaldon … but she seems to have that role perfected so we can all rest easy there.
If you haven’t read OUTLANDER, if you’ve shied away from its sheer size or because it’s basically (but not all) historical fiction, you’re really missing out. Not only is it an epic adventure, but it’s an epic love story, and a tremendous account of what it means to be human in any era. If you could stick a fork in this work, it would stand up straight. It is dense with gorgeous prose, historical detail, multi-dimensional characters, and *heart.* I especially adore the subtext surrounding the ongoing love story of Jamie and Claire - not only what it means to be and fall in love, but about what it takes to sustain an adult love across years … across centuries.
I’m not alone. Sales of the OUTLANDER series are as strong as ever, and Gabaldon’s first graphic novel, THE EXILE, just debuted at #1. It’s a retelling of the first book in the series from a character those familiar with the series know and love, yet whose pov we’ve not yet been privy to. It expands Gabaldon’s already deep and rich universe in a delightful direction and it can be found here.
Okay, I mentioned that I’m an eclectic reader, right? Hold on tight as I take a hard left into dark fantasy…
The next man is a writer’s writer. In other words, I’ve not met a writer who has read his first book, SANDMAN SLIM, and walked away with anything but praise for Richard Kadrey. That book blew me away. I felt sucker punched by his prose - which can be both beautiful and violent in the same breath - and quickly began anticipating the surprises awaiting me on each successive page. (Only HARRY POTTER has every delighted me so much with its inventiveness.) Talk about fresh. Talk about raw. Talk about *truth.* It ain’t pretty, but he tells it, and he does so through a pure anti-hero, James Stark.
The thing is, as dark as his world is and as broken as Stark is, there’s something quietly hopeful about SANDMAN SLIM. Almost hopeful despite lack of hope, if that makes sense. You’ve got a man who can’t stop living and loving in spite of everything he’s been through, despite being a “monster.” (Even the angels call him an ‘abomination’ and though you can’t disagree … you can’t quite agree, either.) In any case, I’d want Stark on my side in any World War, which is essentially what you get in SANDMAN SLIM and today's release - which I’m reading now - KILL THE DEAD.
So just to put a pretty bow on this post, both of these writers inspire the hell out of me - inspire me again when I pick up their works and re-enter their worlds, even though I’ve read these books time and again. A book that delivers new depth on a re-read? That’s inspiring to me, and that’s what I strive for every time I sit down and start again. *Again.*
Commenters … let me know which writers or books you love - do they speak to you truthfully about life? Deliver a message you can take back with you into your world? Make you feel hopeful or less alone?
One winner will receive a copy each of THE EXILE and KILL THE DEAD. Contest opens now and ends at 12 pm EST tomorrow, October 6!
And for those who don’t win … well, you’re still winners. If you haven’t yet read OUTLANDER, Gabaldon’s publisher is giving it away for free on Kindle for a limited time. So hurry up, get your copy, and get inspired!
*Note: I did not write about the amazing authors on this blog, though there’s plenty here I find inspiring, because it would put me in the terrible position of having to pick just one. Not fun! So thank you for not making me do so!