Category Archives: lists

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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All images courtesy of Goodreads.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)