Welcome back to the Friday Feature!
The Power of Readers:
Yesterday, I had an enlightened conversation with a media studies colleague about the relationship between authors and readers. New media, she was explaining, has changed the way we interact. Many publishing houses ask their authors to do some self-promotion, and Twitter and FB have made authors more accessible to their readers. No longer is the author hidden behind the hedge of imprint; they are there, blogging, tweeting, talking about their life and writing.
But this practice is both new–and old. In the 18th century (and 19th, too, really) there was a symbiotic relationship between those who wrote and those who read. Many texts were circulated heavily among friends before they hit the press, and the reader feedback for Samuel Richardson’s now-classic Clarissa is almost as famous as the book itself. Charles Dickens, who wrote serially, was also influenced (perhaps less directly) by peer and reader response–and as an actor, tailored his dramatic readings to his audience. What we have seen with new media, I think, is a return to that symbiosis. Readers and writers together create worlds, and venues like this one (partly through your suggestions) help bring new books to the attention of the public.
And so, as I list the featured fiction today, let me thank all of those who made recommendations this week! You are part of the grand design!
Just released this week, BLOODLINE is the latest from author James Rollins. Praise and recommendation for the work has been lighting up my twitter feed since Tuesday (and a number of folks I follow claim to have been up all night reading it!) The plot: Infiltrating an ancient citadel (in Galilee, 1025), a Templar knight uncovers a holy treasure long hidden within the fortress’s labyrinth: the Bachal Isu — the staff of Jesus Christ — a priceless icon that holds a mysterious and terrifying power that promises to change humankind forever. A millennium later, Somali pirates hijack a yacht off the coast of the Horn of Africa, kidnapping a young pregnant American woman. Commander Gray Pierce is enlisted for a covert rescue mission into the African jungle. The woman is no rich tourist: she’s Amanda Gant-Bennett, daughter of the U.S. president. Suspicious that the kidnapping masks a far more nefarious plot, our protagonist (Gray) must confront a shadowy cabal which has been manipulating events throughout history…and now challenges the current presidency. Get your copy today! And follow Rollins on twitter @jamesrollins.
My own top pick for today is from China Mieville. I confess that Moby Dick is my favorite novel (and that I try to convert my students to a similar way of thinking). I actually published an article recently called A Fish’s Scale on the subject. So, naturally, I am in love with this work. In his new novel, China Mieville brings Moby-Dick to dry land. The world of RAILSEA consists of continents and islands linked by train tracks (these are the railsea), and populated by frightening creatures (enormous mole rats, “greatstoats,” meat-eating earwigs). Captain Naphi of the moletrain Medes, for example, pursues Mocker-Jack, an “old-tooth-colored … great southern moldywarpe” more often rumored than seen: “There’s nowhere I’d go and nothing I’d not cross to reach it,” she says. Our hero and guide to the Medes is young Sham Yes ap Soorap, reluctant apprentice to the train’s doctor. When the Medes investigates a wreck, Sham finds a film clip that serves as a treasure map, and perhaps a metaphysical key to the origin of this world. (Oh, Queequeg!)
This next series–CAL LEANDROS (Nightlife) by Rob Thurman–has been a long-standing one, though the latest, Doubletake, was just released this year. My friend and colleague Andrea Wood recommended it to me–she has been following this series and several others represented by the Knight Agency (and Lucienne Diver) for years. She has kindly offered up her praise for this urban fantasy (and retake on the changling myth):
I have been an avid follower of the Cal Leandros series since the first book (Nightlife) came out. Thurman does urban fantasy at its best, creating compelling characters in the two tightly bonded Leandros brothers who deal with monsters in NYC on a daily basis–all while trying to escape the specters of their past. The novels are fast-paced, with a cast of side-characters you will also come to love, and filled with a measured balance of snarky humor, angst, and action. While the plot lines are always interesting, it is really the characters that shine in this series and keep me coming back for more!
I have mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating. Barry Lyga’s I HUNT KILLERS asks the all important question: What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad? Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say. But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view. The Fiction Reboot has the privilege of hosting this author for an interview in the near future; stay tuned!
Finally, I would like to share the recommendation of another friend and colleague, Carsten Timmerman. Though not a new release, this one is well worth coming back to. He suggests the modern German fantasy: Otfried Preussler’s ROBBER HOTZENPLOTZ trilogy (first volume published in German in 1962; English translation 1974). Carsten is reading Hotzenplotz 3 in two-chapter installments to a five-year old at the moment–enjoying every minute! Preussler also wrote interesting books for young adults. Krabat is an excellent example (not suitable for five-year-olds!) You can read a review by Erin Horáková here.
Thank you once again for checking in–and please, lets keep the symbiosis going! Send you recommendations between now and next Friday to this blog (by comment) or to my twitter feed @bschillace. I can also be reached via email through my website.
- Monday: Advice about agents
- Tuesday: Keeping to the writing schedule (from a researcher/professor/editor now revising two YA series at once–sigh!)
- Wednesday: Second installment of my Here Comes Troubelle mini-series
- Thursday: Interview with Alex Grecian, The Yard
- Friday: The Fiction Feature (all about you, dear readers!)