Category Archives: Featured Author
A Piece of Monologue’s wonderful post:
From a letter by Franz Kafka to his schoolmate Oskar Pollak, 27 January 1904 (translated by Richard and Clara Winston): ‘I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.’
For more gems like this and other interesting articles head over to the A Piece of Monologue blog
The winner for Best Novel:
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
Boston, 1926. The ’20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.
Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.
But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one—neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover—can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.
Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.
The winner for Best First Novel:
The Expats by Chris Pavone
Kate Moore is a typical expat mom, newly transplanted from Washington DC to the quiet cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg. Her days are filled with coffee mornings and play-dates, her weekends with trips to Paris and Amsterdam. Kate is also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret, one that’s becoming unbearable, indefensible. It’s also clear that another expat American couple are not really who they’re claiming to be; plus Kate’s husband is acting suspiciously. While she travels around Europe, looking for answers, she’s increasingly worried that her past is finally catching up with her. As Kate digs, and uncovers the secrets of the people who surround her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage, and her life.
Terry Brooks is most famous for his very popular Shannara Series of fantasy fiction. For those of you wanting to embark on the Shannara journey in chronological order, I have put together this guide to reading the Shannara series.
1. Word and Void Series
1 – Running with the Demon (1997)
2 – A Knight of the Word (1998)
3 – Angel Fire East (1999)
2. Genesis of Shannara Series
1 – Armageddon’s Children (2006)
2 – The Elves of Cintra (2007)
3 – The Gypsy Morph (2008)
3. Legends of Shannara Series
1 – Bearers of the Black Staff (2010)
2 – The Measure of the Magic (2011)
4. Paladins of Shannara Series
1 – Allanon’s Quest (2012)
2 – The Weapons Master’s Choice (2013)
3 – The Black Irix (2013)
5. Original Shannara Series
1 – The Sword of Shannara (1977)
2 – The Elfstones of Shannara (1982)
3 – The Wishsong of Shannara (1985)
6. Heritage of Shannara Series
1 – The Scions of Shannara (1990)
2 – The Druid of Shannara (1991)
3 – The Elf Queen of Shannara (1992)
4 – The Talismans of Shannara (1993)
7. Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series
1 – Ilse Witch (2000)
2 – Antrax (2001)
3 – Morgawr (2002)
8. High Druid of Shannara Series
1 – Jarka Ruus (2003)
2 – Tanequil (2004)
3 – Straken (2005)
9. The Dark Legacy of Shannara Series
1 – Wards of Faerie (2012)
2 – Bloodfire Quest (2013)
3 – Witch Wraith (2013)
Despite the publication dates in brackets this is the chronological sequence of the Shannara novels. Happy reading folks!
“7 Days, the new crime thriller by South African author Deon Meyer, has just been published in the UK, and is out soon in the USA. In this exclusive interview, Meyer talks about the development of protagonist Benny Griessel, his research for the novel, and the possibility of his books becoming international movies.”
The Round House, named Book of the Year by Amazon, is set on a Native American reservation for the Ojibwe people in North Dakota in 1988 and follows the investigations of 13 year old Joe as he seeks the truth surrounding the assault of his mother.
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe’s life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared. (Goodreads)
Louise Erdrich, born 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota, grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, accepted the award in both Ojibwe and English and spoke of “the grace and endurance of native women”. She went on to say that “this is a book about a huge case of injustice ongoing on reservations. Thank you for giving it a wider audience”. (Louise Erdrich wins National Book award for fiction 2012)
For more about Louise Erdrich and her novels visit Goodreads.
Jodi Picoult talks to Ellen about Sing You Home, her latest novel, and life as a writer.
In celebration of St Patrick’s Day I’ve put together this list of famous writers who you may or may not have known hail from Ireland. The list includes both classic and contemporary works of notable fiction. Today, wear something green and pick up a book by an Irish author! Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Gulliver’s Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde
Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker
Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce
The Chronicles of Narnia (1949) by C S Lewis
Under the Net (1954) by Iris Murdock
Amongst Women (1990) by John McGahern
Circle of Friends (1990) by Maeve Binchy
Every Dead Thing (1999) by John Connelly
Artemis Fowl (2001) by Eoin Colfer
The Sea (2005) by John Banville
The Gathering (2007) by Anne Enright
Brooklyn (2009) by Colm Toibin
Room (2010) by Emma Donoghue
The Brightest Star in the Sky (2011) by Marian Keyes
Tags: Amongst Women by John McGahern, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Every Dead Thing by John Connelly, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, irish novels, Irish writers, ROOM by Emma Donoghue, st patricks day, The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes, The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis, The Gathering by Anne Enright, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Sea by John Banville, Ulysses by James Joyce, Under the Net by Iris Murdock
Not long ago I read Ian Kingsley’s fantastic psychological thriller Sandman and now Kingsley, a fellow dog lover, is back in this author interview. Jam packed with reading recommendations, inspiring authors to try out, invaluable advice for writers and some laugh out loud moments, this is a must read.
V: Once again, thank-you for providing me with a copy of Sandman to review on Lilolia. Christmas is already upon us. Can you share some of your favourite Christmas holiday reads with us?
IK: I am delighted to have just discovered Carl Hiaasen and would highly recommend his book ‘Skinny Dip’ as an amusing and light-hearted Christmas read. Not only is he really funny, especially with sex, he is a really good writer in the technical sense. It is hard to recommend a writer who would serve as a model for all the important aspects of creative writing (such as characterisation, plot, etc), but I reckon Carl hits the spot with this book. Or, something really unusual that you can get your teeth into over a holiday, is ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell. ‘Engleby’, by Sebastian Faulks, also has a flawed central character much in the same way as my own book ‘Sandman’ does; in both these cases, the reader really gets into that person’s mind. I also loved the unusual nature of the girl from nowhere getting into the family in ‘The Accidental’ by Ali Smith, which would make another unusual Christmas read. Personally I am hoping to get another Carl Hiaasen back from Amazon before Christmas. That would be wonderful chuckle over Christmas.
V: Which authors do you admire and what is it about their work that inspires you?
IK: I greatly admire Peter Carey, despite his lack of regard for the ‘conventional’ rules of writing. (He gets away with things – and Booker prizes – because of his wonderful characterisation skills.) I equally admire the work of John Irving: and suggest to readers that one influences the other; you guess which way round! There are some similarities to be found in certain novels, but I am not saying what. (There’s a challenge for you!) Both these authors inspire me to create flesh-and-blood characters that readers will remember. Carl Hiaasen has now joined that short list. I also admire some of Sophie Hannah’s psychological thrillers (such as ‘Little Face’, less challenging to the reader than some others), the somewhat forgotten A. J. Cronin, and, last, but not least, Thomas Hardy, a classical master of characterisation.
IK: ‘Jude the Obscure’ by Thomas Hardy. You really get to know – and sympathise with – Jude Fawley, like few characters in fiction. I can never forget this novel and can re-read it like few others.
V: Do you have a favourite literary character?
IK: Apart from Jude Fawley, in ‘Jude the Obscure’, as mentioned above, perhaps I would say Chili Palmer in Elmore Leonard’s novel ‘Get Shorty’. I love this character for his absolute ‘cool’. Even when up against a mountain of a guy you would expect to make mincemeat of him, he always has the upper hand. What a character – despite his shady past!
V: What does your average day’s writing routine look like?
IK: A computer! No, seriously, once I get writing it is hard to take my eyes off the screen – and I require absolute silence. No music, no radio, nothing. I have pretty much a nine-to-five routine on the days I work: which is 3 per week. If I am not catching up with emails or something to do with my travel website, synergise.com, or my author website, iankingsley.com, then it either associated with marketing my latest published book or working on my latest novel. (I can listen to the radio or music when working on my website. What stops me while undertaking ‘creative writing’ is the need to clearly hear in my head what the reader reads – without any distractions.
V: Where do you do your writing?
IK: When we moved to our present house I got a garage converted into an office: light and airy, without many distractions. I have a pleasant view of the garden and have only to step outside the door to take a break amongst flowers and shrubs. Quite often there is a dog at my feet. Sadly, two of our much-loved dogs died this year (both to cancer), and so my wife and I are helping a charity out by socializing dogs in training for the disabled. We get a round-robin of beautiful golden retrievers as a result. I imagine we will get our own dog again next year, but we are not ready for that yet. Either way, the dog at my feet is always a faithful companion and stress-reliever.
V: What is your advice to aspiring writers concerning getting an agent? Should they bother before they have a manuscript to sell?
IK: Be pragmatic and time-efficient. There is no point seeking an agent until you have a completed MS. My suggestion is this. Write your novel in first draft, then prepare/finalize a short Synopsis and polish the first 3 chapters (or whatever your target agents require). Getting a professional critique on the first 3 chapters would be good cost- and time-effective option here, followed by a further polish of them before approaching agents. (Or use a peer review website, such as Authonomy.com, to get comments – being aware the latter will take up a lot of your time, for you, also, will have obligations to review.) You can then send the sample out to agents while you get on with polishing the MS until it shines! There should be plenty of time while you wait for agents to respond, and you have something to do when you get the almost inevitable rejections. If you’re lucky and one is interested, you can confirm the MS is completed at first draft but just undergoing a final edit, and if they want to see it right away – and maybe comment on it (very valuable) – then that is fine, as well, and is to your advantage. Everyone knows where they stand this way. Do not pretend an unfinished MS is finished, or approach agents while the MS is unfinished – unless you already have a novel published that will demonstrate your capabilities. It is hard enough getting an agent to be interested in your work without bombing them out, at the first exchange, with the news you haven’t even completed it. (That will probably be the end of what might have been a rewarding relationship.)
V: Do you have any pearls of wisdom to offer on the subject of marketing one’s novel?
IK: I’m always seeking these pearls myself. Here are a few ideas. Strive to get a well-known writer or celebrity to write a short cover endorsement. If you have a mainstream publisher, they will advise, but at least you then have the opportunity of getting press reviews. After publication, find ways to get Amazon reader reviews. Get your own author website early on so that all publicity – even the book itself – leads people to your website. Include an extract of the book on the website (at least the entire first chapter) and use its sales page to make it easy for people to buy the book. Remember that the more Amazon sales you make the higher your book’s profile on Amazon -and hence in the world – so don’t only think about how much you make on each copy; think also how much each sale potentially raises the profile of the book. Get review extracts and personal information (which can mention your website) onto Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com (treat as separate entities), through their ‘Author Central’ feature. A final tip is this. Use a local setting for your book so you can get local bookshop interest and maybe a local signing. Send your book for review to local papers. Try to get local radio slots. All this is a good boost on publication. I reckon you need to sell a certain number of copies before word-of-mouth can ‘go critical’ enough in order to stand a chance of taking over, and I think concentrating on that marketing until you can see a good and stable Amazon book ranking is a sensible approach – before you get too involved with the next book. Co-operate fully with your publisher.
V: If you were stranded on a deserted island, which 3 things would you take with you?
IK: I much prefer a real paper book to an electronic version, but that’s just me. If I knew I was going to be stranded and could take just three things, I reckon I would finally go for a fully stocked Kindle (including the Bible and good books on boatbuilding and survival), plus a solar charging panel to keep my Kindle going, and a large and full water container (so I can refill it from the water source I would hope to find). Please can I have four things? I would really like a bug-tight tent as well!
V: What is your favourite dish on the Christmas dinner table?
IK: Plum pudding. I only see it once a year, whereas with turkey, you just know you’ll be seeing it again soon.
V: Thanks very much for your time and good luck with your current project. Be sure to let us know when it comes out! And a Merry Christmas to you!
To connect with author Ian Kingsley and find out more about his books, please go over to his website: http://www.iankingsley.com/
As you may have noticed, Lee Child’s novels tend to come out on top of the New York Times Best Sellers’ List and his recent Reacher novel, Worth Dying For, is no exception. In fact, Worth Dying For made the list on the 29th of October taking the number one spot, held it for a second week and is still in the top ten now.
Lee Child is the pseudonym of British crime writer Jim Grant. Born in 1954, Child was born, raised and educated in England. He went to the University of Sheffield to study Law but upon graduating took a job as presentation director at Granada Television where he spent 18 years. After being fired in 1995, due to corporate restructuring, Child began his writing career. His first novel, Killing Floor the first of the Jack Reacher series, was published in 1997. In the summer of 1998 he moved to the US. He currently lives between his Manhattan apartment and country home in France. In November 2008, Child took up a Visiting Professorship at the University of Sheffield and in 2009 he funded 52 Jack Reacher scholarships to the university.
According to Wikipedia, Child’s inspiration for his main character’s name came about because
he is himself tall and, in a supermarket, his wife Jane told him: "Hey, if this writing thing doesn’t pan out, you could always be a reacher in a supermarket."… "I thought, Reacher — good name."
Bibliography: The Jack Reacher Series
- Killing Floor (March 1997) (Anthony Award & Barry Award winner, Dilys Award & Macavity Award nominee)
- Die Trying (July 1998) (WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award winner)
- Tripwire (June 1999)
- Running Blind/The Visitor (published as The Visitor in the UK and Australia) (April 2000)
- Echo Burning (April 2001)
- Without Fail (April 2002) (Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award & Dilys Award nominee)
- Persuader (April 2003) (Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award nominee)
- The Enemy (Prequel, occurs before Killing Floor) (April 2004) (Dilys Award nominee)
- One Shot (April 2005) (Macavity Award nominee)
- The Hard Way (May 2006)
- Bad Luck and Trouble (April 2007)
- Nothing to Lose (March 2008)
- Gone Tomorrow (April 2009)
- 61 Hours (March 2010)
- Worth Dying For (September 2010)
For more detailed information about the character, Jack Reacher, and the specific plots of each Reacher novel follow this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Reacher
The author’s official website is www.leechild.com where you can find novel covers, synopses, reviews and extracts along with a lot of other interesting multimedia stuff.
Aesop. Aesop’s fables. Aesop is a famous guy, we know him as the great fable teller whose stories are still used to teach children valuable morals through animal characters. You may even have read a few yourself, but even if you haven’t the point is you’ve probably heard of them at some point. The strange thing about Aesop is that he is practically unknown. Yes he is famous, but what is factually known about his life? Not very much it seems…
Aesop’s life has left so little evidence of his existence that some scholars, such as Martin Luther (1483-1546), deny he ever lived. Aesop’s place of birth is also highly contended and the following places are the nominations for his birthplace: Thrace, Phrygia, Aethiopia, Samos, Athens and Sardis. Not only is it clear that we are uncertain of his nationality but no one is one hundred percent sure what he looked like either. Richard Lobban (Professor of African Studies) has discussed the likelihood of his name being derived from the Greek word ‘Aethiopian’ which referred to people of dark skin from the African Interior. Another point made to support the hypothesis that Aesop may have originated from the African Interior is the content of his fables which have been argued to contain animals predominantly present on the African continent as opposed to Europe or Greece. Aesop has at times been depicted in sculptures as having physical deformities or being hideous. He is also said by some to have had a speech impediment which was miraculously cured by a deity. Debate rages on, however and even these few details are not a certainty.
Since we know so little about the guy how did he come to be famous in the first place? It turns out that Aesop has appeared in the works of great ancient authors such as; Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon and Aristotle and particular documents which give accounts of his life are ‘The Life of Aesop’ and ‘The Book of Xanthus the Philosopher and his Slave Aesop’. It is from these accounts that Aesop became known as the slave to a man named Xanthus who lived on an island called Samos around 550 B.C. but he is also said to be the slave of a man named Ladmon of the same island – Samos. Aesop apparently did not capture his fables in the written form himself and it may have been the above mentioned authors that set about that task after having heard his stories told.
Aesop is then said to have been freed from slavery by Ladmon according to Herodotus’ ‘History’ which contains the earliest mention of him. How do we know that Aesop was released from slavery? It is said that his public defence of Samian Demagogue (Aristotle, Rhetoric, ii 20) which could only have taken place with him a free man is reason to believe so.
Aesop’s life is shrouded in mystery and even in death the mystery and debate continues. Herodotus describes Aesop’s death as violent at the hands of the people of Delphi who pushed him off a cliff although the cause is unknown, or the cause is the theft of a silver cup, while others say the theft of the silver cup was a separate death incident altogether having nothing to do with Delphi or the cliff.
Whoever he was, I think it is inspiring that someone’s work can live on for so long without any idea of the true identity of the author. Today, it is refreshing because now more than ever identity comes before the work or often, at the expense of the work.
Speaking of the work, here is a short list of some of Aesop’s fables:
The Lion and the Mouse
The Ant and the Grasshopper
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Fox and the Goat
The Fox and the Crane (or Crow)
The Fox and the Grapes
The Dog and the Bone
The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Hen (or Goose) that Laid the Golden Eggs
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
The North Wind and the Sun
The Ass in the Lion’s Skin
The Old Man and Death
I found these sites very interesting so for more information please visit the following websites: