Saturday, June 16, 2012

Scott Bury's Favorites

Today's guest blogger is author Scott Bury and he is going to share with us who his favorite author, or two, or three is. Take it away Scott...

My favourite author

Thanks to Laci for hosting my blog post this week for the TTC tour. Tasha has instructed us to write about our favourite author. Sorry, but it’s impossible to pick just one. I like different writers for different reasons.
This week’s Virtual Blog Tour assignment has forced me to think about exactly what it is that I look for in fiction. I know it has changed over the years, just as my taste in music has changed. When I was a teenager, I liked heavy metal—the louder, harder and faster, the better. Today I find it difficult to tolerate Mahogany Rush or Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow for more than a song, and I find myself tuning the (Internet) radio to the blues station more often than not.

Occasionally, I’ll go back to the authors I read as a teenager, but often I’m now disappointed by science fiction and fantasy authors like Frederik Pohl, Arthur Clark, Poul Anderson or Philip K. Dick. Sure, I still hold a fond spot in my heart for JRR Tolkien, Larry Niven, Roger Zelazny and Samuel R. Delany. But as I grew older I also became more conscious of the social significance of one’s reading list, as well as of my limited range of reading. I remember being thrilled by the styles of John Updike and John Irving, the meatiness and vocabulary of Robertson Davies, the literary flash of Mark Helprin, the raw power of Chuck Palahniuk and the imagination of Margaret Atwood. And the worldly, grounded magic of Gabriel Garcia Marquez — well, it’s beyond my abilities to describe how he makes me feel.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of independent authors, and I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read. Sure, there are a lot of self-published authors who really should take another look at their own work, then have several other pairs of eyes read it before they release it to the world. On the other hand, there are many, many independent authors who take a thoroughly professional approach to publishing their work, who hire and pay for professional editors and designers and produce books that easily measure up to, and surpass, the standards set by the commercial publishing industry.

Elements of style

I think that what I respond to, from the first page of a book is a writer’s style from the first page. It’s hard to define or quantify. I have a very low tolerance for grammatical errors. I have little patience for a writer who doesn’t know the difference between “lay” and “lie.” A book heavy on the passive sentences will not be gone into very far by me (see?).

But the favourite authors I cited above have a way with words well beyond a Grade-8 command of grammar, punctuation and spelling. They have a fluency, a grace; they spin metaphors at once imaginative and reasonable. And unless you really pay attention as you read their words, you don’t even notice their style until you’ve finished reading the book.

I think that’s the essence of a really good style. Like good design, it does what it’s supposed to do without calling attention to itself. When it comes to writing, a great style communicates clearly, puts you the reader into the situation and into the heads of the characters, makes it all immediate for you without showing you how it does that. It’s something I hope to achieve one day.

There are excellent independent writers I have found who can do that in all genres. Importantly, many redefine genres or defy categorization altogether. Here are a few of my current favourites:

·         Rob Guthrie, author of horror mysteries Black Beast and Lost
·         Elise Stokes, author of the middle-grade superhero Cassidy Jones series
·         Ben Wretlind, author of Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors and Sketches from the Spanish Mustang
·         Haresh Daswani, author of the flawed but captivating Evolution of Insanity
·         Will Granger, author of middle-grade/young adult action-adventures Anabar’s Run and Anabar Rises
·         Roger Eschbacher, author of the very entertaining Dragonfriend: Leonard the Great, Book 1
·         Gary Henry, author of the novella A Barbarian in Rome and the collection What Happened to Jory and Other Stories
·         The “two-bit bard” Jo King Von Bargen, author of the collections It Ain’t Shakespeare, But Oh, How it Glows, Oasis and From This Far Time
·         Zoe Saadia, author of At Road’s End, The Warrior’s Way and The Jaguar Warrior
·         Alan McDermott, author of action-thrillers Gray Justice and Gray Resurrection
·         Daniel Shortell, author of the non-genre Where’s Unimportant
·         Scott Morgan, author of the Short Stack collection of short stories.

There are others, as well, but what all these authors have in common is that fluid ability to tell a story about believable characters. They all have one skill essential to the writer: they know how to make you want to turn the page.

Scott Bury is an author, editor and journalist living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with an orange cat, two tall sons and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. His first novel is The Bones of the Earth. His blog, Written Words, can be found at

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