Ghosts: The Book List

“It’s behind you!”

There’s something about a good ghost story that really gets the old heart beating. I think the fact we secretly want ghosts to exist has a great deal to do with this. Whether or not you concur, one thing we can all agree on is that there is, has, and I’m sure will continue to be some great ghost stories out there.

As usual with my lists these are all books that I own, so I apologise if some of your favourites aren’t included. My choices encompass everything from the classics to the more modern interpretation of the theme. I hope you enjoy.

Richard

The Woman In White

5890.jpg

If you’re going to do a job, you might as well do it right. This story is synonymous with the genre, the age of the tale doing nothing to diminish its fear factor. (Enhancing it if anything.)

The Hungry Ghosts

7865229.jpg

Both brutal and haunting, this book will leave a lasting impression.

The Small Hand

8675320.jpg

I love Susan Hill’s books. She is one of only a few authors renowned for different genres. If you read this short story, you will soon see why.

The Lovely Bones

12232938.jpg

If a chilling death can be written up in a beautiful fashion, then this does.

Ghosts By Gaslight

10575798.jpg

I almost put this in yesterday’s list as it is a Steampunk compilation. However, the essence of the stories are ghosts, and they are good stories at that.

The Canterville Ghost

16692410.jpg

Another classic that interweaves a ghost story with romance. Wilde is always superb and this is no less than any of his other works.

Strangers

1705096.jpg

I loved this book as it’s a true chiller. One of those you just suddenly get and think, ‘Geez!’ Plus, I like Japanese stuff.

The Woman In Black

2029379.jpg

One of few the books I’ve read that inspired me to immediately start writing something because of it. One day, I’ll finish the many thousands of pages I have already written of ‘A Shadow Over Darkmoor’ and I shall thank Susan Hill when I do. (My favourite on this list.)

The Turn Of The Screw

12948.jpg

If there’s a ghost list, then this has to be on it. Another story that only grows creepier as it ages. I reckon this story is so scary that although there are several movie versions, they will never capture the chilling essence of it. And it’s short, too. No excuses not to read it.

Ligeia

419520.jpg

Poe, the master of the macabre, puts his own flourish on the ghost genre with this tale of a  dead wife. This story used to be very well read but seems to be less so these days. Don’t be put off by the old style narrative, it’s very good.


I hope you all enjoyed this dissection of the spooky side of life, or is it death? If you even read one of these and enjoy it, then my compilation has been well worth my time.

Thanks for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals Trilogy

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Steampunk Book List

Steampunk often baffles me, not because I don’t like it, I love it, but because people pooh-pooh it without even trying it. I know folks that say they hate it, yet in the next breath extoll the virtues of Dr. Who or The Time Machine or The League of Extraordinary Gentleman or Jules Verne all of which comprise Steampunk at some point or another. The head and the tail of it is this, if you like Victorian, dark literature and I would include the likes of Sherlock Holmes in this, and you also enjoy Fantasy, then Steampunk is a very definite blend of the two. As the years have gone on this has been expanded to include the Dracula type books and other Victorian horror genres. If anything, this has made Steampunk one of the most cult genres in all of literature.

So, in a different way to normal, I am merely going to show the titles and covers of said recommendations and hope they spark your interest, get the old cogs turning, (see what I did there? Cogs, clockwork, steam…oh well!)

As always, I own all these books and would recommend them without hesitation.

Richard

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen / Alan Moore

297627.jpg

Morlock Night / K. W. Jeter

9233968.jpg

Anna Dracula / Kim Newman

8970727.jpg

The Osiris Ritual / George Mann

6066181.jpg

Phoenix Rising / Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

9795166.jpg

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack / Mark Hodder

7293120.jpg

The Japanese Devil Fish Girl / Robert Rankin

8049140.jpg

The Feaster From The Stars / Alan. K. Baker

12352310.jpg

The Kingdom Beyond The Waves / Stephen Hunt 

2971026.jpg

Clockwork Angel / Cassandra Clare

7171637.jpg


I hope you enjoyed this look at Steampunk. Please try one or more and see what you think.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals Trilogy

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

All images courtesy Goodreads.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Modern Fiction Book List

The Fiction shelves of a bookshop can carry the widest variety of work from the ancient to the new and everything in between. The benefit of this can be books that are unexpectedly superb because you aren’t entirely sure what to expect. The following are ten books all of which I own that have done just this – surprised due to their exceptional quality. I recommend them all. Enjoy.

Richard.

Memoirs of a Geisha / Arthur Golden

930.jpg

If you enjoyed the movie you’ll love the book and vice-versa.

Sister / Rosamund Lupton

8196732.jpg

Rosamund Lupton is an author who has fast built up a following. There’s no surprise why after reading this.

The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern

13611052.jpg

The cover says it all, enchanting. One of my personal favourite books.

Dark Matter / Michelle Paver

11239488.jpg

This could have gone in a ghost or horror category, but it’s so well based in reality that I felt it best here. You’ll never see sunlight slipping away the same again.

Across The Nightingale Floor / Lian Hearn

1147723.jpg

The Orient, assassins, tradition, what more could you want? Most of all, a beautifully crafted tale.

The Virgin Suicides / Jeffrey Eugenides

10956.jpg

This book put a spell on me just as had the Sofia Coppola movie. Not to everyone’s taste, but well worth the read.

I’m Not Scared / Niccolo Ammaniti

1197776.jpg

I felt this. ‘Nuff said. Distinctly Mediterranean and a great read.

The Vengeance of Rome / Michael Moorcock

60161.jpg

This is the fourth book in the Pyatt Quartet. The only series of books that I’ve ever read, reached the last page, and thought ‘Jesus!’ he had me all the way.

The Dream Life of Sukhanov / Olga Grushin

884559.jpg

‘Dream Life’ explains this better in two words than I could in a page. Very Russian. Very surreal. Always superb.

Milan Kundera / Unbearable Lightness of Being

9717.jpg

Of love and lovers. A fantastic book and a great way to finish off this list.


I hope you enjoyed the choices and get chance to read at least one of these fine works of literature.

All images courtesy Goodreads.com

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals Trilogy

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Inspiration (Book List)

This is a very personal book list. The problem is that as soon as you say classic everybody will have their own thoughts. There are many things that contribute to such a classification like age, impact and so on. I have tried to keep a degree of elapsed time to my choices, but they are predominantly here because I love them all.

I hope you like my picks and the reasons why.

Richard

Paradise Lost / John Milton

15997.jpg

It seemed right to start a classics list with this. Milton’s retelling of the Devil’s casting from heaven and his infiltration of Adam and Eve is astonishing. Poetry, writing and content combine in a way almost no other book does. It also double-dared me to use ‘thus spake’ in my own prose although I don’t think I’ll ever get away with it.

H. G. Wells / The Time Machine

2493.jpg

How could Wells see so much, so long ago? Most people admire this book for the time travel element, but for me, it was the original ending that got me, which has not been used in films. An ocean at the end of time with strange creatures that might once have been us. Wow!

Dandelion Wine / Ray Bradbury

50033.jpg

I loved this book. If ever a story can be described as ‘gentle’ it is this. Childhood at its best.

The Hound of the Baskervilles / Arthur Conan Doyle

392159.jpg

I almost included The Lost World, which I also love, but chose this. The thing I love about this story more than most of its era and Doyle’s other work is its dark edge. This book will never date and will always hold its appeal.

Rebecca / Daphne Du Maurier

17899948.jpg

This book taught me as a writer that place can be just as important as person. Manderley will be forever etched on the reader’s subconscious after reading this, and I will always aspire to do the same with work of my own.

The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald

4671.jpg

Who is he? The question we as the reader will ask. Brilliant.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s / Truman Capote

2282.jpg

Capote is another of those writers who can take any subject and mesmerise his readers. I almost listed In Cold Blood which couldn’t be more different, but felt this story holds a more universal appeal. I have a leather-bound copy of this and treasure it. PS It’s only short, so there’s no excuse to not read it.

And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie

6251563.jpg

The preeminent whodunnit. If you say you knew, you either fibbed or should be a judge. To say Christie used only her imagination with her crime books, (no training at all) only goes to make this even more remarkable.

Alice In Wonderland / Lewis Carroll

18738776.jpg

A book that brought fantasy to the masses. I don’t think there are many more books of its ilk that have influenced future works more than it has. Another superb read for any age.

A Christmas Carol / Charles Dickens

5328.jpg

Timeless. It doesn’t matter who you are, what age, race, gender, this book will resonate. So simple an idea as to be perfect. I just had to include it. (Sorry Great Expectations, you got usurped).


I hope you have enjoyed the very wide selection here. As I said at the start, the definition of classic is a personal one. I think these all are and they are all very dear to me. Always will be, too.

Thanks for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals trilogy.

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crime and Detection Book List

As I’ve said before, I go through periods where I can’t get enough of one genre or another. For a time, crime and detection stories were my genres of choice. My passage through theses genres went something like this: Fantasy-Steampunk-Victorian Literature-Victorian Detection-Detection-Murder-Scandinavian Crime. I know that’s a funny old way of doing things but that’s how my mind works.

Anyhow, the result of said ramblings through murder were not just to make me the world’s greatest detective, but to have a much more varied outlook on the books I read. The most pertinent example would be the Scandinavian authors and my absolute love of the barren way they often write. Again, so different to anyone else and utterly enthralling. So, that’s where I’ll start. As always, I own every one of these books and my opinions are my own.

Unseen/ Mari Jungstedt

639688.jpg

I loved the way Mari created an unmistakably Scandinavian ambience to this series, you could feel the chill, the cold sea, everything. Brilliant.

Italian Shoes / Henning Mankell

5660487.jpg

I took a bit of a liberty placing this book in this category but not too much. It’s a hard one to describe, but my lasting memory was of the anthill that slowly grew in the protagonist’s shack. You don’t see that every day.

The Death of a Red Heroine

126606.jpg

In the same way the above authors evoked Scandinavia, Qui Xiaolong does the same with modern day China. This book oozes The Orient from the food upwards. A great read.

Blood On The Mink / Robert Silverberg

12238302.jpg

Allegedly, Silverberg couldn’t even remember writing this. I was greatly cheered to read that salient detail as I’m always doing the same.

Die A Little / Megan Abbott

52403.jpg

If ever a book could be described as Film Noir, then this it. I enjoyed Die A Little an awful lot and read several more of Abbott’s stories because of it.

The Bone Garden / Tess Gerritsen

1430213.jpg

This is a time hopping story that was constructed in a very easy to read manner. I enjoyed this a lot. The other good thing about Tess’s books was that when I resigned from work to write full time, you could always buy them on three for one. (Every penny counts.)

A Death in Tuscany / Michele Giuttari

3238393.jpg

It was set in Tuscany. I love Tuscany. ‘Nuff said.

Sexton Blake, Detective / Various

6834306.jpg

Born of the Penny Dreadfuls, Sexton Blake was a varied read that I felt encapsulated the period perfectly. A nice alternative to Sherlock Holmes and Denis Nayland Smith, (as you know, I hate reading the same as everyone else).

The Affair of the Mutilated Mink / James Anderson

19228438.jpg

If you like your British murders to be old school with a touch of whimsy in their detection, read these.

The Eiger Sanction / Trevanian

3182211.jpg

Not only has this book got Switzerland as its main setting, the Eiger (my favourite mountain) and a movie version of it starring Clint Eastwood, but it’s a great read, too. What more could you want to round off a list.


I hope you enjoyed the choices. If you want another list doing just shout out in the comments.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals trilogy.

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Urban Fantasy Book List

I was asked by the lovely Gigi if I would put together a list of recommended Urban Fantasy, so I have. I must confess, I found this list harder than most because the boundaries between Urban Fantasy and its offshoots are often tenuous. Therefore, I may have stretched this in places to accommodate a couple of class acts, but in essence it stays true to Fantasy set in or based from a real world environment.

The collection of stories seen here contain everything from vampires to goddesses to superheroes. I have given a little spiel of my own to each. I own every book here, and my opinions are my own.

I hope you enjoy my choices.

Richard

The Graveyard Book / Neil Gaiman

2213661.jpg

You can never go far wrong with Neil Gaiman. I love this book because it is the classic children’s story that appeals even more to adults. A boy brought up by ghosts, so simple as to be brilliant.

King Rat / China Miéville

910084.jpg

When our hero is taught to eat trash (like a rat would) I bet you can’t help but cringe.

Watchmen

472331.jpg

This is actually a graphic novel and also now a movie. This is a story concerning superheroes and their impact on the world rather than a superhero story per se. The difference is subtle and superb, and one I learned to use myself in The Eternals a story concerning vampires but not about them.

Wicked Lovely / Melissa Marr

305234.jpg

Aimed at the teen market, I bought this because I’d got the follow up for ten pence in a book sale (LOL, cheapskate). For younger readers looking at this list, particularly girls, I think they would enjoy these stories of visible-to-some faeries very much.

There Are Doors / Gene Wolfe

666601.jpg

I took a bit of a liberty including this one, but it’s my list, so there, (blows raspberry). A man pursues a goddess through different realities. This is mind-bending, poetic and always fabulous.

Guilty Pleasures / Laurel K. Hamilton

30281.jpg

This book launched the kick-ass heroine Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Original enough to be different, I can recommend this in written or graphic novel form.

Kafka on the Shore / Haruki Murakami

818109.jpg

As always, Murakami’s books are hard to fit into genres. I have included this here because of the very definite fantasy elements the further the story develops. Never try to understand him too much, just enjoy Murakami’s surreal narratives.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children / Ransom Riggs

9460487.jpg

This book is soon to be released as a movie by Tim Burton, starring Eva Green. I think that says more about its style than I ever could as it’s a marriage made in heaven. The addition of old photographs in this book makes it really rather unique.

Side Jobs / Jim Butcher

7779059.jpg

A collection of narratives concerning a detective who hunts down supernatural naughty folk.

The Book Of Lost Things / John Connolly

69136.jpg

Again,  I stretched the genre a bit to accommodate this wonderful story. I won’t say too much, but anyone who’s a child at heart will love it.


I hope you enjoy the choices and find something new to wet your appetite. There’s a good selection here, so no excuses. Feel free to ask for any other kind of list and if I can do it, I will.

As always, thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals trilogy.

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lesser-Known Lists (Fantasy/SciFi)

I thought I’d do my bit to help some of the books out there that might have got missed in the scramble for mass sales. I am very lucky to have an extensive book collection, (never too many) and decided to try and help those that haven’t.

Choosing a book can be a very personal choice. For me, I always pay careful attention to the cover, the first paragraph and the blurb. If any of these things are not to my liking, I’ll move on. This is how easy it is to miss little gems that don’t contain all three elements.

The following top ten list comprises of Fantasy, both dark and light, Science Fiction, or a blending of the two. I own each of these books and can thoroughly recommend them particularly, as is my intention with these posts, that you might not of heard of them and are even less likely to have read them. They are in no particular order.

I have included the blurb, cover shots and a few thoughts to give you a taster of each. I truly hope something takes your fancy.

All images courtesy of Goodreads.com. Please feel free to find ME on there via this link and follow.

The Portrait of Mrs Charbuque

This is a delight for the senses. A period piece with a distinct twist.

1444094.jpg

A mysterious and richly evocative novel, The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque tells the story of portraitist Piero Piambo, who is offered a commission unlike any other. The client is Mrs. Charbuque, a wealthy and elusive woman who asks Piambo to paint her portrait, though with one bizarre twist: he may question her at length on any topic, but he may not, under any circumstances, see her. So begins an astonishing journey into Mrs. Charbuque’s world and the world of 1893 New York society in this hypnotically compelling literary thriller.

The Lord Of The Sands Of Time

It’s not right until the end of this that you suddenly think WOW!

6154327.jpg

Sixty-two years after human life on Earth was annihilated by rampaging alien invaders, the enigmatic Messenger O is sent back in time with a mission to unite humanity of past eras—during the Second World War and ancient Japan, and even back to the dawn of the species itself—to defeat the invasion before it begins. However, in a future shredded by war and genocide, love waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself?

The Boy With The Cuckoo Clock Heart

This is brilliant because it appeals to the young, yet an adult will see the dark undertones in a way they will not.

6671933.jpg

Edinburgh, 1874. Born with a frozen heart, Jack is near death when his mother abandons him to the care of Dr. Madeleine—witch doctor, midwife, protector of orphans—who saves Jack by placing a cuckoo clock in his chest. And it is in her orphanage that Jack grows up among tear-filled flasks, eggs containing memories, and a man with a musical spine.

As Jack gets older, Dr. Madeleine warns him that his heart is too fragile for strong emotions: he must never, ever fall in love. And, of course, this is exactly what he does: on his tenth birthday and with head-over-heels abandon. The object of his ardor is Miss Acacia—a bespectacled young street performer with a soul-stirring voice. But now Jack’s life is doubly at risk—his heart is in danger and so is his safety after he injures the school bully in a fight for the affections of the beautiful singer.

Now begins a journey of escape and pursuit, from Edinburgh to Paris to Miss Acacia’s home in Andalusia. Mathias Malzieu’s The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a fantastical, wildly inventive tale of love and heartbreak—by turns poignant and funny—in which Jack finally learns the great joys, and ultimately the greater costs, of owning a fully formed heart.

The Girl with Glass Feet

The title says it all. So very clever and offers so many possibilities.

6063110.jpg

Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St. Hauda’s Land. Magical winged creatures flit around the icy bogland, albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods, and Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass. Ida is an outsider in these parts who has only visited the islands once before. Yet during that one fateful visit the glass transformation began to take hold, and now she has returned in search of a cure.

The Snow Child

I thought this book had a sense of innocence that a lot lack.

15932273.jpg

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Soulless

Better known than some here, but liable to be poo-pooed because of the vampire theme. Don’t, it’s great!

6381205.jpg

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Gloriana or The Unfulfill’d Queen

I’m a fan as you know, but this book takes Historical Fantasy to a new level.

1382883.jpg

One of Michael Moorcock’s most brilliant and highly decorated novels, here isthe story of a powerful queen whose quest for sexual satisfaction could destroy her kingdom. A fable satirizing Spenser’s The Faerie Queen and reflecting the real life of Elizabeth I, GLORIANA, OR THE UNFULFILL’D QUEEN tells of a woman who ascends to the throne upon the death of her debauched and corrupted father, King Hern. Gloriana’s reign brings the Empire of Albion into a Golden Age, but her oppressive responsibilities choke her, prohibiting any form of sexual satisfaction — no matter what fetish she tries. Her problem is in fact symbolic of the hypocrisy of her entire court. While her life is meant to mirror that of her nation — an image of purity, virtue, enlightenment and prosperity — the truth is that her peaceful empire is kept secure by her wicked chancellor Monfallcon and his corrupt network of spies and murderers, the most sinister of whom is Captain Quire, who is commissioned to seduce Gloriana and thus bring down Albion and the entire empire.

Vampire Hunter D

The classic manga in written form. I loved it and bought loads more. PS. As an aside, if you get chance to google Yoshitaka Amano, his artwork is astonishing.

16599.jpg

12,090 A.D. It is a dark time for the world. Humanity is just crawling out from under three hundred years of domination by the race of vampires known as the Nobility. The war against the vampires has taken its toll; cities lie in ruin, the countryside is fragmented into small villages and fiefdoms that still struggle against nightly raids by the fallen vampires – and the remnants of their genetically manufactured demons and werewolves. Every village wants a Hunter – one of the warriors who have pledged their laser guns and their swords to the eradication of the Nobility. But some Hunters are better than others, and some bring their own kind of danger with them. From creator Hideyuki Kikuchi, one of Japan’s leading horror authors with illustrations by renowned Japanese artist, Yoshitaka Amano, best known for his illustrations in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: The Dream Hunters and the Final Fantasy games.

Time Ships

Again, a bit better known than some here, but to all of you who don’t but love H.G Wells’s Time Machine, this is the official follow up. Works too.

889248.jpg

Written to celebrate the centenary of the publication of H G Wells’s classic story The Time Machine, Stephen Baxter’s stunning sequel is an outstanding work of imaginative fiction.

The Time Traveller has abandoned his charming and helpless Eloi friend Weena to the cannibal appetites of the Morlocks, the devolved race of future humans from whom he was forced to flee. He promptly embarks on a second journey to the year AD 802,701, pledged to rescue Weena. He never arrives! The future was changed by his presence… and will be changed again. Hurled towards infinity, the Traveller must resolve the paradoxes building around him in a dazzling temporal journey of discovery. He must achieve the impossible if Weena is to be saved.

The Wood Wife

Of all the books here, I’ve had this the longest. A delight in its simplicity, I highly recommend it.

1813394.jpg

When Maggie Black comes to the desert home of poet Davis Cooper, seeking an answer to the riddle of his death, she begins a journey of self-discovery that will change her forever, coming face to face with the wild spirits that inhabit that strange and magical place.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into my reading history and recommendations. If you take even one book from this list then it’s been worth my time doing it. I shall do some more lists if this goes down well, possibly, crime books next. If there is any category you would be interested in me listing some recommendations from please leave a comment and I promise if I know them, I will.

Richard

Author of The Eternals. Book One available now.

Amazon Author (US)

Amazon Author (UK)

THE ETERNALS COMPLETE.jpg

 

 

 

 

The Author List

This is the second and final part of my lists posts after The Book List yesterday. These are the lists that define my reading and writing career so far. Again, I have put this in a rough chronological order from young to now. There is not one author here that appears on my book list.

So, what’s the difference between a Book List and an Author List you may shout? A lot. There are books that define people, they may be one-offs or part of a series, but authors resonate through both time and mind. The person stays with you when their works may fade.

This list was extremely hard to put together. I, like you, have read thousands of authors, but I felt these represented my writing history and principles best. I love them all. Accordingly, I have placed an example of what best demonstrates my explanations here for you all to see. I am sure this list will have more unknowns to you than the last. I can only hope they inspire. They inspired me.

B. B.

84644.jpg

So, why start with an author simply known by his initials? Well, for me, this was the easiest choice of all. I had read many authors even as a child who put fantasy into my life. B.B put fantasy into REAL life. The Little Grey Men were gnomes who lived by a beautiful stream and went in search of their brother. Their journey takes them through meadows of flora and fauna that are perfectly described and can be seen by the reader every day. Even the heroes are named after plants: Dodder, Baldmoney, Sneezewort and Cloudberry. What more could a kid want? B.B. taught me that the magical can be closer to home than one thinks.

Ray Bradbury

1930326.jpg

Another easy choice. Bradbury was a true master, a storyteller in the best sense of the word. Something Wicked This Way Comes personifies his easy style, total believability and appeal to both a child, and child at heart. But, and here’s the thing, as a writer who had and still hasn’t had any training, when I found out Bradbury was the same as me, unqualified, he gave me confidence a commodity I have always lacked. ‘Just write,’ he said in my mind. ‘Just write, lad.’ And I have. And I don’t care what anyone says anymore because nobody could judge me harsher than I judge myself.

Oscar Wilde

607609.jpg

Ah, good old Oscar. He resonates on many levels to many ages. I studied him at High School and went to see The Importance of Being Earnest at the theatre as part of my course. Wilde brought literary wit into my life, sometimes cutting, sometimes pertinent, always brilliant. You should read Wilde every year, once a year, because with every day  that goes by, his words will mean something deeper.

China Miéville

71304.jpg

Goddamn it, I want an accented letter in my name. Anyway, back to business. As I grew older, and the books I read evolved, I happened upon Miéville and thus grit was added to my list of what, in particular, a fantasy book can contain. His worlds are dirty, unpleasant, and all the more rounded for it. One of my pride and joys in life is a signed copy of The Iron Council by this author. He isn’t for everyone, but I’m not everyone, and I think he’s fantastic.

Henry James

214528.jpg

I first read James’s The Turn Of The Screw at a young age and to say it was such an old story it scared me to death (in a good way.) In many ways James along with Wilde are the most classical authors on this list and both are always eloquent. That is not why I included him, though. James’s The Aspen Papers is beautifully written and loses the reader in it’s style. But what got me was a line on the last page which turned the whole thing on it’s head. I realised then that all those many, many years ago people thought the same as us now and that we aren’t so very different and shouldn’t think it, either. Great writing is timeless as are we.

Gene Wolfe

344935.jpg

Wolfe is poetry in motion. The above book demonstrates this perfectly. I couldn’t care less what he writes about only how he writes it. The two are one and the same with Wolfe. Similar to Haruki Murakami on my last list, Wolfe’s book can turn on a sentence and you can be several chapters further on before you realise what you’ve missed. He taught me not to treat readers like sheep. One discovers and enjoys in equal measure it doesn’t have to be shoved down one’s throat.

Ryū Murakami

14287.jpg

I love Japanese literature in the same way I love Japan; they enchant me because they are not of the world I know. That is why Ryū Murakami hit me hard (not to be confused with Haruki, whatever you do!) His stories are indisputably Japanese but offer a grit and deep, dark undertone that I would never have thought of their culture. Again, Murakami taught me to look beneath the gloss and really understand those you write about. It may disturb, but wow it’ll make you think.

Robert Silverberg

4402754.jpg

I refused to read Silverberg until later in life because I don’t like reading overly popular work. Even then, I chose his lesser known stories. Both Nightwings and Roma Eterna twist the past into stunning fantastical literature. They are almost Science Fiction, almost Historical, almost Fantasy, and many more. They are always superb. This leads me to an author you’ll all know but is of particular interest to me…

Margaret Atwood

48261.jpg

Genre-bending, in  my eyes, is never more prominent in its displaying than with Margaret Atwood. She represents to me what writing is all about, words and stories, not classifications and pigeonholing. She writes what she wants how she wants and it goes into the fiction category of a book shop. To my way of thinking all writing should be either Non-Fiction or Fiction, nothing else. Readers are led to sections of a store by the labels publishers give their authors thus limiting the discoverability and readability of almost a whole life. Those same readers may never stray from those sections and therefore miss brilliance of an only slightly dissimilar style. I think this is criminal. I never want to fall into a category. I’d rather just fall.

J.G Ballard

56674.jpg

Ballard has literary and professional ties to my favourite author, Michael Moorcock. So why include him on this list and not Moorcock, who I was tempted to have on both, especially as he’s the last of my top ten. Again, this is not because of what he wrote, I love much of his work The Drowned World being foremost of them, but why he wrote them. It wasn’t until I read The Empire of the Sun and then because of it his own biography that I fully appreciated where, how and why you were brought up in a certain way could make your outlook so different. Ballard spent part of his youth in a Japanese concentration camp, which is enough to shape anyone’s ideas on life. An author’s outlook is shaped by experience; we do not all share the same experiences, though many say we do, therefore our stories are so very different. There is nothing wrong with this and it would do us well to appreciate it. Variety. Variety. Variety. If anything in my world of literature sums up both my own reading and writing it is this: Show variety, show your experiences, be uncontainable and revel in it.

I hope you enjoyed this selection of essential authors and examples of their work. Unlike the last post, I would encourage sampling them all for the reasons I have listed. Revel in their brilliance and take a little bit away from them all. It’s the little bits in this jigsaw we call life that make us what we are.

Richard

Richard M. Ankers author of The Eternals trilogy.

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

All images courtesy of Goodreads.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book List

Today, I thought I’d do something a little different. I don’t talk a lot about myself, as you all know, but thought I’d list some of the books that have made me who I am.

My whole life has been formed around the books, (and comics, as I’ve loved them since it was definitely not cool to do so) that I’ve read. Long before I wrote, I read. I was and still am a prolific reader who enjoyed receiving a book or comic as a present more than I would a car or a house (I’m still the same now.) The biggest single thrill of my young life was going into the city (York, England) and choosing a new book with my own saved money.

Here is a list that I think represents me from childhood right up to the present day. These books are not necessarily my favourites, though some are, but they are a fair representation of my reading history and what it has taught me.

I have listed the books as I have progressed in life from young to old-er. (that’s right – old-er!)

I hope you enjoy.

Richard

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

65645.jpg

If ever a story made me who I am it was this. As a child, I longed to visit a world so wonderful and believable as Lewis’s creation. The Narnia books were the first I bought and devoured. I still can’t help looking in wardrobes to see if there’s snow there.

The Forest of Doom

2272031.jpg

The Fighting Fantasy books taught me that a story could not just be set on one definite path but be both versatile and exciting. These books were new, different and most of all fantastical.

The Rats

397867.jpg

One prerequisite of a teenage boy is that he suddenly likes rock music, leather and horror. The Rats delivered, and for the first time in my life I felt a bit of a rebel.

STORMBRINGER

1887054.jpg

Stormbringer and Michael Moorcock himself quite literally changed my life. I was blown away by his anti-hero Elric. The weakling King with a sword that fed him souls, quite often of those he loved, was genius. Moorcock created Elric as an opposite of the Conan character and reading this book inspired me more than any other to become a writer. I will never be as good as my literary hero, but even a fraction would suffice.

The Silmarillion

7332.jpg

The Silmarillion is the single most convincing work of how Fantasy can be made legend. If this book was dug up two million years from now, the people of that time would consider it  their Bible and that Elves etcetera DID exist.

The Inferno

306150.jpg

And thus a love affair with poetry was born. Dante Alighieri could have written about a bin liner and made it sound poetic. Outstanding!

Death At La Fenice

68099.jpg

I went through a period of reading stories about places I would love to visit. I’m lucky I’ve gotten to most, but Venice still haunts me. One day.

Norwegian Wood

818108.jpg

After Moorcock, Murakami affected me most. Murakami has the skill to write about anything and make it surreal, dreamlike and utterly compelling. Some of his stories lose you, others don’t, but either way, you HAVE to finish them and move straight on to the next.

Of Mice and Men

446875.jpg

Steinbeck taught me that a story does not have to be hundreds of pages long, nor of a subject matter so intense as to fry your brain. Simplicity and innocence are the key here. I dare anyone not to have tears in their eyes.

To Kill A Mockingbird

10257528.jpg

I have an inbuilt resistance to reading, (or doing) what others do. I like to plough my own furrow, as we say around here. I don’t like being recommended books; I like to discover them. I don’t like being told what to read; I want my own decision to sweep over me. To Kill a Mockingbird was the singular exception to my rule. Thank god I took my Mother-in-law’s advice. Possibly the greatest book ever written, and that’s coming from a lover of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

I hope you enjoyed my selections. It was very difficult to choose them as I love so many. I have over fifty Michael Moorcock books alone just as an example. Everybody will have their favourites, but I don’t think you can look back and truly understand what reading has done for you until you reach a certain age. I have.

As an aside, I found listing my books like this quite therapeutic and would strongly recommend it to anyone else.

Thanks again

Richard.

All images courtesy of Goodreads.com

Richard M. Ankers author of The Eternals trilogy.

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)