Today’s TTT is about those authors whose works you pre-order before you’ve finished hearing the pitch of their next book, because you know that no matter what they’re writing about this time, it’s going to be For You.
…I have quite a few of those, I’m not gonna lie. And I really don’t think I can do justice to any of them with neat little sound-bites, but I guess I’m going to give it a go.
Catherynne M. Valente
Do you have time to discuss our lady and saviour Catherynne Valente? is my not-really-a-joke response to anyone asking about my favourite writers. I still remember discovering Palimpsest when I was 17, the epiphany of it, this book about a magical city you can only reach by having sex with someone else who’s been there. And that makes it sound smutty, which, no offence intended to smut, but it isn’t. It is about sex, though. It’s bizarre, and breathtaking, and the language…! The way Valente uses language is nothing short of real, actual magic, and besides the fact that Palimpsest showed me that sex can be beautiful, it was the…the rich, lush, hedonistic way Valente writes that made me sit up and pay attention, that made me think oh gods, yes, THIS, this is what I’ve been waiting for my entire life!
I was that kid who never really grew out of being in love with purple prose, okay? And Palimpsest – it was like someone asking, who said you had to?
And also, hey, you like language you can bite into like goblin fruit, that you can lick off your fingers while it drips down your chin? WATCH THIS!
That’s without even getting started on Valente’s imagination, on how weird and wonderful every single thing she writes is. Magic STI cities in other worlds. Space exploration with black-and-white movies and planets like fantasy-lands. Snow White in the Wild West. THE ENTIRE FAIRYLAND SERIES. You know how fantasy is supposed to be about magic? And you know how magic is supposed to be magical? As in wild, wondrous, strange, epic, stunning, soul-shaking?
That’s every single one of Valente’s works. Without fail. Fantasy or sci-fi or both. It’s been almost 10 years since Palimpsest found me, and I’ve read everything of Valente’s I could get my hands on, and I’m going to keep reading everything of hers I can get my hand on. She’s working on a new adult novel about Space Eurovision? I’m there. A Middle-Grade story about the Bronte siblings? Sign me up. A support group for fridged superheroines? Reserve my copy now. I’ve followed Valente into parts of the spec-fic world I thought I’d never go, and found myself in love with tropes and themes I’ve always hated before. So I don’t need to know anything about a book except that she’s written it. I’m going to keep following her, wherever she leads.
The author of the Kushiel Universe can write whatever she wants, and I will buy it. I will admit I didn’t enjoy Carey’s venture into urban fantasy – but I’m determined to re-read those books at some point, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I liked them upon a re-read. And everything else she touches is gilded.
Kushiel’s Dart is basically my holy text. Someday I’ll figure out how to write about it properly. But for now it’s probably enough to leave it at that.
Sarah Rees Brennan
I no longer have any memory of how Demon’s Lexicon ended up in my hand, but I’m so delighted that it did, and I’ve been following Brennan’s career ever since. She is wickedly funny, and wickedly clever – she takes normal fantasy tropes and twists them, takes the predictable and turns it into something subversive. Her novel In Other Lands – which started out as Turn of the Story, a serial novel she posted for free online (and which was greatly expanded and improved for its rebirth as IOL, although I would have said improving it was impossible) – is a freaking masterpiece, but none of her other works should be neglected either. Her books trick you into thinking, while bubbling like champagne even while they’re making you sob your heart out – and it’s wonderful.
I’ve re-read Hambly’s James Asher series every year for five years. You’d think I’d be unable to stand them by now, but I just. Hambly’s writing makes me swoon. It’s just so beautiful. To the point that I actually held my nose and dove into her Benjamin January series – which is historical fiction.
There’s nothing wrong with historical fiction. It’s just that I don’t read it. UNLESS IT’S BARBARA HAMBLY. THEN I CAN’T RESIST.
Just. Her writing!!!
Schafer hasn’t got a huge backlist yet, but after how she ended the Shattered Sigil trilogy? I will follow her literally anywhere. And I can’t say anything, because spoilers, but – gods, I love those books. I was part of the Kickstarter to get the final book published after Night Shade screwed her over, and – I would have been happy if it hadn’t ended how it did, but I was hoping, hoping so hard, and then it did. And I doubt I’ll ever be able to put into words how incredibly amazing it was to see that in print- the first time I’d ever seen it acknowledged as a real thing outside my own head – but it does mean that Schafer has a fan for life in this corner.
I guess there aren’t a whole lot of guys on this list, huh? But the ones who are are incredible. Edwards is another writer without a long backlist – yet – but The Last Sun sent him straight onto my auto-buy list. I hope the Tarot Sequence will be going on for a long time, but I’ll be following him to whatever project he goes on to after that. It’s not often that I’m this certain of an author after just one book, but I’m damn sure this time.
Schoffstall is another writer who – as far as I know – has only published a single book – but that one is more than good enough that I’m keeping my eyes peeled for his next one, and will SLAM that pre-order button when it appears. His novel Half-Witch is the kind that comes along once in a generation if you’re lucky, and I would link you to my review but it’s on Goodreads and we’re avoiding all Amazon holdings today. I’ll have to come back and edit the link in tomorrow, because damn, so many of you are missing out by not having heard of this book!
Abraham got my attention with the sheer originality of his Long Price quartet, a series that is to this day like nothing else I’ve ever read. He then wrote the Dagger and Coin series, which pretended to be traditional sword-and-sorcery, and turned out to be anything but (I’m so glad I took that gamble. Woah.) I’ve also started reading his sci-fi, which he writes under the penname James SA Corey, I believe – he writes the Expanse series that has become a popular tv show, which I will not watch until I’ve caught up with the books. Basically, he’s made it very clear that he’s one to watch, and I’m really excited for when he next returns to the fantasy genre. Luckily there’s plenty of Expanse books for me to read while I wait.
Deborah A. Wolf
I’ve talked a little bit about how much the Dragon’s Legacy books mean to me on here; every page of them has just cemented Wolf’s place on my auto-buy list even more tightly. She’s such an amazing worldbuilder and her imagination is so – !!! And she writes like magic is real, like someone who remembers that magic is supposed to be wild and beautiful even when it’s terrible, and that is something that will always get me by the throat. There are so few writers (that I’ve found, at least) who really make their magic feel magical. Wolf does.
I’ve been less enthusiastic with her urban fantasy series, but to be fair, there’s only one book out so far and I did really enjoy it. I just wasn’t swept away by it the way I was by the Dragon’s Legacy. It’s not bad, it’s just that Dragon’s Legacy…kind of outshines anything you place beside it. You know?
Also known as Ursula Vernon, I realised Kingfisher had me well and truly hooked when I saw that her next novel is a horror one…and I wanted to read it anyway. Not because the premise sounds at all like my thing – but because it’s Kingfisher. Whether she’s writing incredible fairytale retellings, making me laugh out loud with clockwork centaur monsters, or breaking my heart with little girls having adventures with were-houses (no, that’s not a typo: were-houses) I have loved everything of hers I’ve read. (She has a collection that is literally just her annotations and notes on a bunch of old fairy tales? And it is still my go-to book when I’m depressed, because I always end up crying with laughter. DO NOT READ IT AT 3AM WHILE YOUR PARTNER IS TRYING TO SLEEP, IS WHAT I’M SAYING.) I’m nervous of following her into horror, but…it’s not like I can ignore a Kingfisher book! That would be madness!
What about you guys? Do you have an auto-buy list? Who’s on it?