Our Favorite Authors Part 3
I love William Faulkner. I could read his short story, Barn Burning, every day. He is a Southerner, as am I, and captures the nuisances of Southern life in his writings.
Oh, I have had so many over the years. Being born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, I grew up with the lore and magic of dragons. A special mention to the late great Anne McCaffrey and her wondrous world of Pern. In my teens, I wanted to Impress a dragon, fly Between, and flame away falling Thread. The series is a tribute to her phenomenal world-building skills because the Pern series endures after her passing. It is continued today by her son, Todd McCaffrey, who has inserted science fiction into the fantasy of the Pernese world.
Since my late teens, I have enjoyed the Valdemar universe by Mercedes R. Lackey (aka Misty). She has created a fantasy world with a tapestry of history, magical lore, and a rich cast of characters, set against a weave of varied social, political, and cultural backgrounds. It’s another great example of world-building. The Valdemar series revolves around Heralds, the information-gatherers, messengers, and representatives of the ruling monarch, supported by Companions, who are reincarnated souls taking the form of white horses. Additionally, Misty gives practical advice for writers and can be found on the question-answer platform, Quora.
I find the Undead series by Mary Janice Davidson cleverly written and entertaining. Her sense of the absurd is a refreshing change, from the cliches in the paranormal romances of the day. The wry humour, less-than-perfect people, with relatable flaws, make us warm to their vulnerability and invest emotionally in their stories. These characters win our hearts and sympathy, especially when we can imagine our own reactions under similar circumstances.
Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson series, centre around a Coyote changeling, daughter of Coyote himself, who holds her own and often manages to outsmart the larger and more powerful Werewolves, Vampires, and the Fae races. Native American mythology brings interesting perspectives to this urban fantasy when humans learn they have been sharing the world with Others. There are interesting scenarios, encouraging me to widen my own horizons.
The enthralling Heaven series by Kylie Chan, feature Chinese deities, demons, martial arts, and battles in the spirit realm. The stories are set mainly in Hong Kong and Australia, with many places familiar to me. It depicts how humans can walk closely with the spirit world, with most not knowing what lies below the surface, right in front of our eyes. My family still follows many of the old ways, like ancestral ‘worship’ and showing respect for the spirits. Many beliefs described in the books resonate with me, as they reflect what I have been taught in my childhood.
Ilona Andrews is actually a husband-and-wife writing team, with Ilona doing the female POV, while Gordon works on the male POV. I particularly like the different communication styles between the genders, age groups and races. E.g., the syntax of the Beast Lord’s speech is different from the heroine, Kate Daniels or her young ward, Julie, which brings to life the couple dynamics in the dialogue. The use of humour, balances well with the moments of conflict, danger, and sadness.
One of my current favourites is Nalini Singh, who has created a terrifying, yet wondrous alternate world in her Guild-Hunter series. There is the ennui of a long life for the ruling Archangels, and how absolute power can degenerate into corruption and wanton destruction. This author deals sensitively and insightfully with such moral dilemmas. How would humans interact with beings like Vampires, Angels, and Archangels, being mortal and frail, and at an extreme disadvantage? The theme of interracial relations is also explored, but on a more personal level in her Psy-Changeling series, with many of the issues they face applicable to today’s mundane world. Two urban fantasy series that are thought-provoking, challenging prosaic conventions. I managed to get a few signed copies from the Psy-Changeling series from a second-hand bookstore – such a find!
I also enjoy the classic horror stories, as well as the modern-day experts of the macabre and bizarre. From H.P. Lovecraft and the mythos of Cthulhu, the poems, and stories of Edgar Ellen Poe, to Clive Barker and his Books of Blood, the prolific Master of Horror, Stephen King, the inimitable Vampire series from Anne Rice, and the suspenseful thrillers of Dean Koontz. Their works have become the basis of the horror genre that many others have strived but failed to emulate successfully. Such skillful control of language, combined with believable characters for emotional pull, that creeping terror in the build-up of tension, and the inevitable crushing end. When I finally put the book down, I would turn on all the lights, cover the mirrors, check the closets, and sweep under the bed. Just in case…