I wanted to do another ‘favourite books’ post because I’ve definitely neglected a few friends and had a couple of thoughts on how to make amends. It goes without saying that in the ‘favourite books’ section, most of these books suck you right in from the get-go, but there are also definitely a lot of noteworthy authors that seem to particularly have a skill for immersion! So, who would I recommend as a particularly immersive author? Here’s a few starters:
- Laini Taylor: I absolutely love Taylor’s work. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of those books that I read on kindle and went straight out to buy in hardback so I could read it again (and managed to get a lush autographed copy as well!). But Night of Cake and Puppets, and Strange the Dreamer also manage this incredibly well. She’s a world-creator with mad skills!
- Brandon Sanderson: I’d argue that Sanderson is fantasy royalty at the moment. There was a day when Final Empire sat alone on the shelves, but Sanderson now commands multiple shelves! I’m a huge fan of the first two / four books of the Stormlight Archive, as well as Elantris, Final Empire and the Rithmatist. Sanderson’s worlds – however fantastic – are always believable.
- Charles De Lint: Urban fantasy is a tough gig. A modern world with magic, fairies and bikers? I came to De Lint’s work through Spiritwalk abnd Moonheart, and haven’t looked back since. His characters are complex, generally very loveable and his worlds completely compelling.
Who would you add?
I feel a lot of pressure when naming things. In the early stages of writing, I tend to change names quite a bit until they really ‘take root’. Characters are particularly bad; if I make a mistake, I’ll have to write this character’s name for another 100,000 words. What if it doesn’t suit them? What if it just sounds silly?
Thankfully, Kael and Alessia (from Parasites) seemed to ‘fit’ quite nicely. Alhambro sounds suitably respectable (and vaguely piratical) and Basteel is such a solid-sounding name that I was happy with it straightaway. I generally felt that the Lyrans were a pretty straightforward people, so that (in general) shorter names were pretty practical. There aren’t a lot of them left, so why bother with long, flowery names (none of them have middle names, for example).
I initially had a few issues with naming the characters in Wild Court – more on this closer to release. I find places a bit easier and take inspiration from a lot of different sources; the logic-defying space station in Parasites, Carthusian, is from the wonderfully named Carthusian Street near the Barbican in London (and does originally refer to a religious order, rather fittingly).
The ‘dull’ planet names in Parasites were something of a relief to me – it’s terribly convenient that the explorers of Lyra chose such boring labels! But again, they work and make sense to me and perhaps more importantly, to the wider plot of a very logical, time-poor people.
I guess all writers have hang-ups; I’ve always found the first paragraph of anything the hardest, so will sometimes skip it, write the second onwards and take the pressure off (and then come back to write it once I’m in the flow). It sounds bizarre, but sometimes that first paragraph just gets stuck in your head and doesn’t quite want to come out!
Parasites, a YA science fiction exploration novel, is now available on the Amazon store in ebook and paperback format! Full disclosure – I’m still making some tweaks to the paperback format. The words are all there, but I’m not completely happy with how the format looks; Amazon’s self-publishing is a bit of a baptism of fire when it comes to physical printing. But it’s there!
Parasites is my first published novel; a sci-fi exploration
set at the end of the universe, when suns are cooling, galaxies are starting to
contract and the start of the ‘big crunch’ is looming. The people of a small,
late-blooming world, Lyra, have discovered a way to traverse multiple universes
through ‘thinnings’, setting up colony worlds where they can and mining
resources where they can’t. But despite the best efforts of the Lyrans, despair
is mounting as habitable worlds prove to be few and far between.
Alessia, a botanist-medic and Kael, a scientist-engineer, are
two such explorers, desperately hunting for the resources that will keep their
homeworld up and running. Stumbling across a clue in an abandoned city, they
begin a hunt for a solution to Lyra’s problems and an answer to the much more
personal question of Alessia’s missing father.