In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.
Today’s recommendations are by Sarah Knight. Sarah Knight is a senior editor at Simon & Schuster, where, in addition to her regular S&S list, she also oversees the new speculative fiction imprint Simon451, which launches its first set of titles in October 2014 (among them Gillian Anderson’s debut SF thriller, A Vision of Fire). She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their ill-behaved cat, Doug, and goes by @mcsnugz on Twitter.
Congratulations to Chuck Wendig, who just announced that his novel Blackbirds has been optioned as a television show at the Starz channel.
Blackbirds is the first in the Miriam Black series. Here’s what the book description:
Miriam Black knows when you will die.
Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.
Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Touch Of Death | The Future Is Written | Free Way | Surviving ]
As Chuck warns, there’s no guarantee that this is a done deal…but there are some good signs: the novel has been very well received; the executive producer/showrunner tied to the project (John Shiban) has had success at Starz with Da Vinci’s Demons; Shiban himself adapted the book; Chuck himself says that the project is an “appropriately faithful” adaptation of the book.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A dark, gripping character novel.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Miriam Black knows how and when you’re going to die, just by a simple touch. When she meets a truck driver who’s death she’s going to be present at, she’s pulled into a plot that will test her gifts and outlook on life.
PROS: Strong, character driven novel, with a vivid, high-speed pace.
CONS: Very dark throughout, overly so at points, with a couple of untied ends.
BOTTOM LINE: Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds came highly recommended by a number of friends over the past summer, and after picking up a copy and reading through the first couple of pages, I can see why. It’s gripping from the get go, and jumps out of the gate and never slows down. While none of the characters in Blackbirds are particularly likeable, it’s hard not to root for anti-hero Miriam as she’s pulled into a plot that twists her around into knots.
With just a touch, Miriam Black can see when and how people will die. It’s a troubling gift, and its kept her up on the road, right on the ragged edge of the Mid-Atlantic coast. She’s used to the deaths that she can’t prevent, but it’s particularly troubling when she comes across a truck driver who calls out her name when he’s murdered in just a couple of weeks. In short order, she finds herself in the company of a con man and tracked by a violent pair of agents for an even scarier individual who’ll stop at nothing to take back what’s his…
Pfft. Who gives two figs about noble and courageous heroes with their shiny armor and white horses and unwavering devotion to all that is pure and noble? (Also, where would you get the two figs? What is this, a farmer’s market?) Here. Take this quick multiple choice quiz which is in no way biased.
Heroes are often:
- Able to make us cry into our pillows because we’re so weak and fallible in comparison
- All of the above
Fortunately, there’s a handy solution to your nightly bouts of pillow-weeping. The anti-hero. That rough-edged character with enough faults in their soul to qualify for earthquake monitoring. Who doesn’t play the good cop/bad cop routine, but prefers the “beat the living snot out of prisoners until they whimper for mercy” technique. Who is lured through life by greed, vanity, and a healthy appetite for the type of “medicines” you have to put in quotation marks. The person who still somehow dredges up enough begrudging morality from the muck of their being to do what’s right, even if doing so includes pit stops for binge-drinking bouts, swearing contests, strip-joint sleepovers, and plenty of other activities they don’t teach you in Sunday School.
The anti-hero. Ah, how we love to hate them, hate to love them, and whatever other emotional mishmash we can whip up. Shall we meet a few and see which one turns out to be the most beloved scoundrel of them all? Oh, let’s do.