Guest Post: “Five Books That Inspired Me to Be a Writer” by Laurence MacNaughton

MacNaughtonL-AuthorPicPractically every human being, at some point or another, has closed the covers on a satisfying book and thought: I should write a book like that.

That initial burst of inspiration is quickly followed by nagging doubt. Do you have what it takes to write?

After all, knowing how to write is only half the battle. The other half is finding the inspiration, the self-confidence, the grit to actually write something worth reading. And the fortitude to stick with it through months or years of rewrites, revisions, and rejection.

It’s not easy. But it can be done. The best advice on toughing it out comes from those who have cranked out hundreds or thousands of pages of prose, and shared their hard-earned insights on what it’s really like to be a writer. Here are five books about writing that inspired me most. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE LOST AND THE DAMNED by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HHSoT2-LostAndTheDamnedThe Siege of Terra begins in earnest…

The Solar War is over. The Siege of Terra has begun. As the Traitors unleash their deadliest weapons, the defenders of the Throneworld face nightmare and plague – but Terra must stand.

On the thirteenth day of Secundus, the bombardment of Terra began. With the solar defences overcome through the devastating strength of the Traitor armada and the power of the warp, Horus launches his assault on the Throneworld in earnest. After withstanding a ferocious barrage of ordnance, an immense ground war commences outside the Palace with every inch gained paid for in the lives of billions. The front lines are beyond horrific and the very air is reduced to poison and blood. Bodies are thrown into the meat grinder but the outer redoubts cannot possibly hold for long, even with the loyal primarchs to reinforce them. For Horus has his own generals to call upon. Between the plague weapons of Mortarion and the fury of Angron, the defenders face a losing battle.

The final stages of the Horus Heresy continue, in this engaging second novel in the Siege of Terra series. Haley packs a lot into this novel, as he moves the story forward, fills in some gaps, and sets the stage for the continuing siege. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: GOLDILOCKS by Laura Lam (Wildfire)

LamL-GoldilocksUKDue to be published by Wildfire in April 2020, Laura Lam‘s Goldilocks is being pitched as “The Martian by way of Handmaid’s Tale“. That’s quite a pitch! Really looking forward to giving this a try. The cover was unveiled this week, and here’s the synopsis:

Ravaged by environmental disaster, greed and oppression, our planet is in crisis. The future of humanity hangs in the balance – and one woman can tip it over.

Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.

It’s humanity’s last hope for survival, and Naomi, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity like this – to step out of Valerie’s shadow and really make a difference.

But when things start going wrong on the ship, Naomi starts to suspect that someone on board is concealing a terrible secret – and realises time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared…

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: WE ARE THE DEAD by Mike Shackle (Gollancz)

ShackleM-LW1-WeAreTheDeadUKOne of the best fantasy debuts in years

The war is over. The enemy won.

Jia’s people learned the hard way that there are no second chances. The Egril, their ancient enemy, struck with magic so devastating that Jia’s armies were wiped out. Now terror reigns in the streets, and friend turns on friend just to live another day.

Somehow Tinnstra – a deserter, a failure, nothing but a coward – survived. She wants no more than to hide from the chaos.

But dragged into a desperate plot to retake Jia, surrounded by people willing to do anything to win the fight, this time Tinnstra will need to do more than hide.

If Jia is to get a second chance after all, this time she will need to be a hero.

It took me longer than I would have liked to get around to reading Mike Shackle’s debut, We Are the Dead. Long-time readers may know how I’ve struggled a bit with the fantasy genre of late. This novel, however, sounded really interesting, so I decided to dive in. And I wasn’t disappointed! This is a gripping, excellently-written (grimdark) fantasy novel. Continue reading

Interview with DAVID WRAGG

WraggD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is David Wragg?

Hi! I’m a middle-aged white British man of impractical height, and the author of the Articles of Faith series, the first of which is The Black Hawks. When not writing, I work as a freelance software engineer, and at home I am generally surrounded by/buried beneath cats and small children (usually mine).

Your debut novel, The Black Hawks, will be published by Voyager. It looks like a lot of fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the first in a two-part series, which I’m apparently not supposed to call a Bilogy. I’d summarise it briefly as: ‘a story about a young man with strongly held opinions about the world, and the intersection of said opinions with said world.’ More prosaically, it’s about a bunch of people just trying to make a living in the middle of a fantasy plot-line. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE OVERLOOK by Michael Connelly (Orion/Little, Brown)

ConnellyM-HB13-OverlookUKTerrorism, the FBI and Harry Bosch…

An execution on the overlook above the Mulholland Dam entangles Bosch with FBI Agent Rachel Walling and Homeland Security.

When a physicist is murdered in LA, it seems the killer has no fear of publicity, leaving the body on the Mulholland overlook, a site with a stunning view over the city. And when it’s discovered that the victim turned over a quantity of a lethal chemical to his killer before he died, Harry knows he has more than just a single death to worry about.

Alongside the forces of Homeland Security, Harry realises he must solve the murder or face unimaginable consequences.

In this, the thirteenth Harry Bosch novel, the LAPD detective comes face-to-face with a potential terrorist threat in Los Angeles. I’ve been working my way through all of Connelly’s novels this year (14 and counting at the time of writing),* and while I’m not going to write a review of each other them, I wanted to just flag The Overlook as one of the ones that has stuck with me. We see Bosch navigating the inevitable response to a terrorism threat, while also getting to know his new partner. A gripping, fast-moving crime story. Continue reading

Quick Review: CHANCES ARE… by Richard Russo (Knopf/Allen & Unwin)

RussoR-ChancesAreUSFriends for decades, three men reunite for a summer and a mystery from their past resurfaces…

One beautiful September day, three men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today — Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971: the disappearance of the woman each of them loved — Jacy Calloway. Now, more than forty years later, as this new weekend unfolds, three lives are displayed in their entirety while the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo’s trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are… also introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader’s heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga of how friendship’s bonds are every bit as constricting and rewarding as those of family or any other community.

Chances Are… is the latest novel by one of my favourite authors. This time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls (among many other great novels and short stories) adds an element of mystery into his fiction. It’s very well done, but his sharp observation and characterization remains at the core of this novel. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading