Tag Archives: Stephen King

Ten Authors I Would Love to Meet

Yes, yes. All right. The more astute among you might have realised that today’s blog post is, basically, a Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted as usual by The Broke and the Bookish – and, it being Wednesday, I have a cheek to even consider using it. But I’m throwing the rulebook out the window again, mainly because I can (and also because it’s fun).

So. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

I write a lot on here about authors I love, and so I’m really going to try to talk about people today who are not only new (ish), but also writery people I really want to meet. I’ve also realised that I’ve actually met (or been in rooms with, at the very least) several members of my literary firmament already – Neil Gaiman, Jeanette Winterson and John Connolly spring to mind – so they won’t feature here. This made me feel quite lucky, but also a bit peeved that I had to knock three stellar writers off my list.

In any case, here we go. In no particular order, here are ten authors I’d love to meet, and maybe – who knows? – it’ll happen one day.

Erin Morgenstern

Image: wordandfilm.com

Image: wordandfilm.com

I read (and loved) Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus the second it was published, as is evidenced by the fact that I own it in trade paperback. It’s a gorgeous, imaginative romp through a landscape full of well-drawn and beautifully described characters and settings, flavoured with plenty of magical realism and oodles of ethereal romance. It’s a wonderful book, and for months after its publication I had friends from all over the world recommending it to me in gushing, breathy tones; I was always very glad (and perhaps even a little smug) to tell them I’d read it already. So, I’d love to meet Ms Morgenstern, simply to tell her three things: I love her book, I love her surname, and I’m impatiently waiting for her to write another novel.

Jim Butcher

Mr Butcher writes (among other things) the funny Dresden Files series of novels about Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, which I’ve been following for some years now. I don’t have the complete series, but it’s something I keep meaning to rectify, as the stories are compelling, scary when they need to be and hilarious most of the time, and Harry is an excellent character (if, perhaps, a little too invested in the physical attributes of the women around him – but that’s meat for another post). I love the fact that there’s a kick-ass female cop (Karrin Murphy) as well as a scary-as-all-hell Fairy Queen (Mab) who provides more than enough in the line of ‘fierce adversary’, and together they almost make up for Dresden’s occasional lecherous thoughts about other people of the lady persuasion. Plus, I love Mouse, Harry’s otherworldly guard dog, and Bob, the wisecracking skull, and just – everything about this series. It’s fun, sure, but it’s clever fun. I think Jim Butcher would be an excellent person to hang out with for a while, so he’s on the list.

Celine Kiernan

Celine Kiernan is an Irish author of some renown (and not a little talent) who I talk to occasionally on Twitter. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that our paths will cross someday, but until they do, she’ll go on here. I adore her Moorehawke Trilogy, and her wonderful Into the Grey is one of the best children’s novels (in fact, just novel novels) I’ve ever read. So, if I do ever get to meet her, it’ll be basically me babbling about how insanely talented she is before slinking off in a cloud of embarrassment. (But not before getting her to sign all my copies of her books, of course).

Her new novel, 'Resonance', which I don't have yet. But, rest assured, I will before too long. Image: celinekiernan.wordpress.com

Her new novel, ‘Resonance’, which I don’t have yet. But, rest assured, I will before too long.
Image: celinekiernan.wordpress.com

O.R. Melling

O.R. (or Orla) Melling is an Irish-Canadian writer whose work, particularly The Singing Stone, a novel about Celtic mythology, the Tuatha de Danaan, and the mystical power of stone circles made a huge impression on me as a kid. I’m not sure whether Melling is still writing, but simply because her work has stayed with me for over twenty years, I’d love to meet her and thank her for all she’s done for me as a writer and a reader.

Kristin Cashore

Cashore’s Graceling series is one I love, and I follow her blog for its sheer wit, intelligence and broad scope. She seems like an interesting and clever person, as well as an extremely talented author, and I’d love to meet her simply to learn more about how to live a life of elegant simplicity. At least, this is the impression I get from her writing; perhaps the reality is somewhat different! She has created some of the best female characters I’ve ever read, and I’d love to talk to her about how she wrote them, where they came from, and where she’s going next.

Stephen King

So, yeah. A weird one, this. I have a mixed relationship with Stephen King’s work, insofar as I think he’s a genius 85% of the time, but every novel I’ve read by him (with the exception of The Stand, which is a perfect work of art) has lacked something – usually, a coherent conclusion. I’m working through his Dark Tower series at the minute (or trying to, at least), and I think there’s nobody to match him in terms of characterisation, dialogue and description – he writes so well, you live the story he’s telling. But I will never, ever forgive him for the ending to Under the Dome. Just, no. I’d love to meet him to ask him what the heck that was about.

Yes. This was my face after finishing Under the Dome, too. Image: huffingtonpost.com

Yes. This was my face after finishing Under the Dome, too.
Image: huffingtonpost.com

Frances Hardinge

So, I know I bang on about Frances Hardinge a lot here. But she has to be on this list. I want to know how one person can be so imaginative, and yet so cool and individual and, more than anything else, where on earth she gets her hats from. I also really want to read her newest book, The Lie Tree, and this is basically a plug for it, so yes. I’m going now.

Catherine Webb (or, whichever pen-name this author is going by at the current time)

No matter what she’s calling herself, I would love to meet a woman who was first published as a teenager, who writes books of astonishing accomplishment, and whose brain, frankly, appears to be staggeringly impressive, simply to ask ‘how is it all done? Mirrors? String? Alchemy?‘ There must be a secret, somewhere.

Philip Pullman

Just to thank him for Lyra Silvertongue, basically. Probably through veils of grateful tears. I’m sure he gets this a lot.

William Goldman

Because The Princess Bride has defined my life. No joke. For wit, wordplay, linguistic and narrative trickery and sheer storytelling brilliance alone – not to mention an awesome cast of memorable characters, some of the best dialogue ever written and an imaginative scope which has rarely been equalled. And that’s just the novel. The movie’s even better. I’d love to shake William Goldman’s hand (and then never, ever wash again).

And yes, it's a kissing book. But I don't even mind that! Image: hellogiggles.com

And yes, it’s a kissing book. But I don’t even mind that!
Image: hellogiggles.com

So, there’s my weird and eclectic list. (It’s not all that weird or eclectic, really, but humour me). Fancy giving it a go yourself? Do let me know if you do; I’d love to see how my choices stack up against yours!

Nightmare

I woke up this morning tangled up in my sweaty sheets, looking a lot like a panicked sausage roll, in the grips of a nightmare so real that it took at least a minute to clear fully from my mind. The horror of it paralysed me, and my heart was thumping so hard that I thought it would burst. I found it hard to catch my breath. The last image from my terrible dream lingered in front of my eyes like the distant shimmer of the Aurora Borealis.

I dreamed…*deep breath* I dreamed that Stephen King was just about to publish a book with the same title and plot as my WiP. They were making a movie out of it, and I even dreamed I saw the TV ad for the movie – this was the last image in my nightmare, the shimmery one that hung in front of my eyes – and I woke up screaming, internally, at the unfairness of it all. I told my husband, who very sensibly muttered ‘It’s not really his type of book, though, is it?’ (I don’t think he was too impressed by my angst at that ungodly early hour of the morning); after a few moments, the logic of this settled into my mind, and I calmed down a bit.

I didn’t calm down entirely, though – when I came downstairs the first thing I checked was Stephen King’s Wikipedia page. He has lots of things in the works, but (phew) nothing that even remotely resembles the story I’ve spent the last God-knows-how-long bleeding and labouring over. I’m not, in any way, trying to suggest that what I’m working on is of Stephen King’s standard; I’m not even sure why my mind picked that particular author to torment itself with. I’m a huge fan of King, but I haven’t read anything by him for quite a while. I think the last thing I read by him was ‘Under the Dome’, back when it was first published a few years ago. I *loved* it, right up until the very end, when the reason for the existence of the Dome is revealed. At that point, I wanted to throw the book against a wall, but I was afraid of damaging it. The wall, I mean, not the book. (Have you seen the size of ‘Under the Dome’?)

Anyway. I guess all the dream really signifies is that 1) I can’t get this book out of my mind, and 2) I am really, deeply, devotedly attached to it. Neither of these things are bad – in fact, I should be glad to feel like this, still. I know I’ve only been writing this story for a few months, but like I’ve said before the story has been in my brain for a long, long time. If I was a normal person, I’d be sick and tired of it by now. I read a lovely blog post this morning about writing the book you want to write, and how it’s a good thing if your book is in your mind all the time, and you can’t stop yourself thinking about your characters; it couldn’t have been more timely, really.

I’ve had a fortifying cup of coffee, and now I’m just about ready to start work again. I have a ream of notes here, made yesterday when I was away from my desk – every few seconds something about the book would occur to me, and I’d have to scramble for pen and paper, or my phone, in order to write something down. Thankfully I’m not relying entirely on my colander-like memory to preserve all the things I want to remember, and all the important details that need to be added to the book. At this rate, my WiP will be leaving ‘Under the Dome’ in the shade in terms of length (but hopefully it’ll have a less frustrating ending!) I’m just over half-way through my third edit, so soon it’ll be time to print myself a hard copy and swan around with my MS under my arm for a bit, just because I can.

I hope you’re all having a less manic day than I am, and that all things are well wherever you are. How is everyone’s Thursday going?

All Hallows’ Eve…

Happy Hallowe’en! As I write, it’s dark as pitch outside and the rain is battering the windows. It’s the perfect setting for writing about this, the scariest time of the year. I hope you like my blog’s ‘new look’ – thanks to my wonderful husband who redesigned the colour of my banner image, and added the cutest… I mean, most terrifying bat I’ve ever seen. It’s my little celebration of the day when the worlds begin to slide into one another, and you never know what’s waiting for you around the next corner…

I’ve always loved Hallowe’en, even in the years that have passed since I grew too big for ‘trick or treating’. I didn’t have much imagination back when I was young enough to be able to get dressed up and go around terrorising the neighbours, I’m afraid to say. I was usually a witch, because there were always long skirts and spooky-looking scarves lying around at home, so it was a very easy costume. We didn’t even call it ‘trick or treating’ when I was young – I’m not completely sure whether we even had a name for it. I have a feeling it rejoiced in the name ‘going around for Hallowe’en’, which definitely has less of a ring to it! I just remember it being great fun, and I recall the frisson of terror that would run up my spine every time we rang a doorbell, particularly when we didn’t know who lived there. We would be ushered into living rooms and kitchens and urged to do a dance or a ‘recitation’ of poetry in order to get a few coins, or a handful of nuts, as a reward. It was rare that we got things like sweets or chocolate – we would be far more likely to come home with our swag-bags laden down with apples than with sugary treats. It makes sense, as Hallowe’en probably has roots in harvest festivals and celebrations relating to the goddess Pomona (the goddess of fruit and/or fruitfulness, and possibly apples – I’m not completely sure any more!), but I didn’t have this scholarly perspective when I was a kid, and I often felt short-changed as I munched through my pile of Granny Smiths. It’s funny, now, that I’m on the other side of the whole ‘trick or treating’ thing, that I make such a big deal out of it. I spent nearly an hour yesterday making up little ‘treat packs’ for our local children, ready to be handed over when we are, inevitably, deluged with visitors as soon as darkness falls. I’m really looking forward to it. Nothing is more lovely than seeing the local kids all excited and dressed up. I’m just hoping I have enough packs to cover everyone – a couple of years ago, we ran out of goodies and my husband and I had to cower in the kitchen with the lights turned out until the doorbell stopped ringing. That was fun.

I’m thinking about scary things today, of course, and I wanted to muse a bit about frightening films versus frightening books. I’m not sure if anyone else is like this, but I find that I’m completely unable to watch scary films. I have zero tolerance for them. One of the best photographs of me as a child is one that was taken during my first viewing of the movie ‘Jaws’ – I’m basically clutching a pillow to my chest and peering over the top of it, regarding the television with an expression of pure terror. ‘Jaws’ is a film I consider to be scary, but it’s not a ‘horror’ film, as such; when we get into the territory of horror, I just can’t do it. You might remember a few weeks back I mentioned that I’d watched ‘The Woman in Black’ and almost lost my life in the process – all this, despite the fact it’s generally considered a film so un-scary as to be funny. Even my mother, who normally shrieks at shadows, laughed her way through ‘TWIB’. I, however, could not sleep afterwards, and had to leave my bedroom lights on all night, much to the amusement of my family. I’ve seen ‘The Exorcist’ because a friend basically forced me to, and I watched ‘Poltergeist’ when I was younger before I really knew what I was getting myself in for. However, that’s about it for classic horror movies. I particularly can’t handle anything that involves possession, or demons, or monstrous psychopaths (Freddie Krueger, for instance), and I also can’t cope with anything that involves young children coming to harm. (Now that I think about it, I’ve also seen ‘The Others’, which nearly made me lose my mind because the little boy in it looks just like my brother did when he was young, so I can’t help but feel the movie is about my brother – yes, I’m weird).

Well, my brother was a bit less pale and strange-looking, but the general outline is similar. Anyway.

However, when it comes to scary books, I’m a different animal altogether. Scary books, I can usually handle. I’ve read all of John Connolly’s novels, which are pretty spooky, and feature not only murder but also a lot of supernatural goings-on, including ghosts and fallen angels and the lot. I can read Stephen King, but I can’t watch adaptations of his work. The book I’m currently reading, ‘Kraken’, is full of scary bits, which I have no problem with. If I even wanted to get picky about it, one of my favourite books is Henry James’ ‘The Turn of the Screw’, which is similar to ‘The Others’ in so many ways; I love the book, but can’t handle the film. I’m wondering why this is, and I think the secret lies in control. I feel, when reading a scary book, that I’m in control of the images being created in my mind – I can make them as scary as I’m able for, and if I want to, I can focus on something in the background of the scene instead. I also know I can close the book and walk away at any stage. I’m not completely sure about this logic, though, because usually when a person reads, the mental images are more intense, because they’re so extremely personal. Hmm.

It’s a puzzle, and no mistake. Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a secret trick to being able to watch frightening films that I’ve just never been exposed to?

Happy Hallowe’en – have a wonderful day, whether you’re trick or treating, or doling out the tricks and treats. And stay safe out there!