Favourite Author? Are You Kidding?
When I decided to participate in Tasha Turner Coaching's Virtual Blog Tour (or TTC VBT, as the cool kids call it), I figured there would be some tough assignments, some things to make me really think about what I do and, perhaps, who I am. But pick my favourite (yes, yes, I'm Canadian) author or book? Are you nuts? That's an impossible task.
You may as well ask me to stop masturbating.
Since I can do neither the former nor the latter, I thought I'd start at the beginning and work through how things progressed.
The first time I touched myself was in the bathtub when I was-- Oops. I was supposed to be writing about my favourite authors and books, wasn't I. Sorry, I'm easily distracted.
The first book I remember really affecting me was Dawn of Fear by Susan Cooper. I'm not sure if this book is well known or not, to be honest. Ms. Cooper is best known for her The Dark is Rising series (of which, the first book was made into the unfortunate movie The Seeker), but I found Dawn of Fear in my local library when I was in grade school and it was not only the first book I read more than once, it was also the first book that made me cry (I have goosebumps thinking about it as I write this). Now that I think about it, it's quite possible Ms. Cooper is responsible for making me want to write. If someone could make me feel that much through words on a page, then I wanted to do it, too.
Probably the most prominent and influential writer from my formative years of reading is Stephen King, as I'm sure is the case for many around my age. Cujo was the first of his novels I read and it started a love affair that lasted until Tommyknockers. I fell for his well-drawn but flawed characters that he made you really care about, and his ability to draw the reader into a scene. Salem's Lot scared the crap out of me; The Stand made me want to be one of the last people on Earth; It still makes me long for childhood and all three endure on my all-time best list.
Two other classic novels from my school years: To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies. Both were assigned reading for English class and I remember slumping down in a chair the night before I was to have To Kill a Mockingbird read, bitter at having to suffer through a book that sounded so boring. Where were the scares? The action? I would read it because I had to, but I wasn't going to enjoy it, damn it.
Wrong! That sucker sticks like super glue. And Lord of the Flies? How could an author do something like that to a character like Piggy? Hmm. I decided then and there I wanted to kill innocent people, too.
As an adult, the number of books and authors I love and that have influenced me grows and grows, especially with the explosion of amazing independent authors on Kindle that might never have been discovered if the gatekeepers hadn't been circumvented. The list is too long, so I'm going to mention four of the traditionally published authors who influenced me leading up to my own publication.
Orson Scott Card. How can you question the inclusion of the only writer to win both the Hugo award and the Nebula award for back-to-back novels? Ender's Game is a fantastic piece of writing, but it's the sequel, the brilliant Speaker for the Dead, that has a very good shot at being at the top of my list as the best book I've ever read.
Neil Gaiman. Truthfully, my relationship with Mr. Gaiman began earlier than adulthood. His comics, Sandman and the Death: the High Cost of Living mini-series, were favourites of mine, but it is American Gods—another “Best Novel” contender in my world—which catapults him onto my list of the best. The richness, depth and complexity of his writing astounds me. He manages to be literary without losing the connection to the reader that I find sometimes happens with literary authors.
George R.R. Martin. I know this is the current cool choice to go on everyone's list of fantasy authors, but I was reading A Song of Ice and Fire even before the fourth book was released. Sean Bean probably hadn't heard of Ned Stark when I discovered this amazing series. Thank the Old Gods they've done such a great job adapting it to the small screen. (And while we're talking about Mr. Martin...George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien. Coincidence? I think not).
Mike Carey. Another comic-book-writer-turned-author. Mr. Carey is one of those authors I feel like I discovered. No one told me about him or suggested his books, I simply came across the second book in his Felix Castor series, Vicious Circle, at the library and immediately fell for his in-your-face noir style, interwoven story lines and original fantasy world of a present day London in which the dead have come back to life in the forms of ghosts, zombies, loup-garous,etc., to the point they are considered citizens. Of all the authors I admire, Mr. Carey is the one my own writing is compared to most often, and I am flattered beyond words every time it is; I can only dream of creating what he has created.
So there you have it. Ask a simple question like “who's your favourite author” and you get a thousand words of rambling nonsense. Thanks for taking the time to read what I had to say, I hope you enjoyed it. And even if you didn't, take my advice and pick up some of the books and authors I mentioned. I may have disappointed you, but I promise you, they won't.
Now, back to my story about masturbating...
Who the Hell is Bruce Blake?
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don't take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn't really a pressing issue,and his dog is far too small to pull a sled, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the "u" out of words like "colour" and "neighbour" than he does shovelling. The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.
Bruce's first short story, "Another Man's Shoes" was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon. "Yardwork" was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod. "On Unfaithful Wings" is Bruce's first novel and his second Icarus Fell novel, "All Who Wander Are Lost", is due to hit Kindle in mid-July with many more to come.
I would like to give a big "Thank You" to Bruce Blake for taking the time to be a guest on my blog! I hope you all rush out and discover who he is and get one of his books!