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

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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

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

The Small Hand

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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

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

Ghosts By Gaslight

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Morlock Night / K. W. Jeter

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Anna Dracula / Kim Newman

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The Osiris Ritual / George Mann

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Phoenix Rising / Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

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The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack / Mark Hodder

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The Japanese Devil Fish Girl / Robert Rankin

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The Feaster From The Stars / Alan. K. Baker

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The Kingdom Beyond The Waves / Stephen Hunt 

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Clockwork Angel / Cassandra Clare

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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

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

Sister / Rosamund Lupton

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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

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

Dark Matter / Michelle Paver

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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

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

The Virgin Suicides / Jeffrey Eugenides

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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

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

The Vengeance of Rome / Michael Moorcock

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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

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‘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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

Breakfast At Tiffany’s / Truman Capote

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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

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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

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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

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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 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom Of Choice 

“I want to swim!” cried the little minnow.

The winter ice had locked him solid and all who dwelt in the stream.

“But if you are freed, I shall eat you,” claimed the pike.

“I would rather be frozen in fear, than frozen of freedom,” said the minnow.

“Wise boy,” said the pike, as he chewed at the ice.



November walks

  
There’s a degree of uncertainty as to what to wear on a November walk. There’s always the hope of sunshine slicing through a morning mist and the lingering prospect of sunglasses seeing extra use. Perhaps boots are in order for a meadow cobwebbed by a million dewdrops. Fog threatens to make an appearance on many November days, so a coat looks a certainty. And one should never forget a hat for those chilly reminders of the Christmas to come. Then again, you could start the month with them all just like today, and then you can wear the lot.

The Book List

I got told off the other day by an author who shall remain nameless about what I write. Our conversation went something like this. I have shortened it, so as not to bore you:

He. What genre do you write in?

Me. Mostly Fantasy and Science Fiction but I like to write all sorts.

He. You can’t, you need to choose.

Me. I won’t choose. My writing spans genres and I enjoy what I write.

He. But that makes submitting them hard.

Me. Yes.

He. Then, you won’t make much money.

Me. I don’t write for the money. I spent twenty-six years chasing money and now I’m doing things for the right reasons.

He. What’s that supposed to mean?

Me. I write for me. If I didn’t write for me, then my work wouldn’t be as good because I wouldn’t enjoy it. (He tried to catch me out then by trying this old chestnut.)

He. I bet your favourite books are all similar.

Me. There’s similarities, but generally they couldn’t be more different. (I then told him my top picks and he said I was being awkward and that I would never put it in print because others would say the same. As I have already mentioned, I don’t care what this other person thinks, but just to prove it and because I thought you might like to see them, here they are in no particular order.) That’s a dirty lie, my favourite’s at the top.

  1. The Dancers At The End of Time: Michael Moorcock
  2. To Kill A Mockingbird: Harper Lee
  3. The Magician’s Nephew: C.S. Lewis
  4. Norwegian Wood: Haruki Murakami
  5. Cannery Row: John Steinbeck
  6. The Moon’s A Balloon: David Niven
  7. Sailing To Byzantium: Gene Wolfe
  8. The Silmarillion: J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Divine Comedy: Dante Alighieri
  10. The Time Machine: H.G. Wells

I hope you don’t find my list too strange. If you do, I have my arguing hat on ready. 😉

And in conclusion: Never limit yourself in what you read, write or think. And, if that doesn’t go down too well with others, so what! They aren’t you.

Richard

PS. The HE could have been a SHE.