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MIND MELD: What Authors Are on Your Auto-Read List?

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We all have authors whose work, for whatever reason, inspire us more than the rest, whose books standout and can always be counted on to entertain, and even to comfort. These are the ones that we’ll instantly forgive a misstep or two (maybe even three), because we love them that much, and will buy, and read, anything that they write. So, we asked our panel…

Q: What authors are on your autoread list, and why?

Here’s what they said…

Jaime Lee Moyer
Jaime Lee Moyer lives in San Antonio with Marshall Payne, two cats, three guitars and a growing collection of books and music. Her first novel, DELIA’S SHADOW, will be published by TOR Books on September 17, 2013. Two other books in the series, A BARRICADE IN HELL, and AGAINST A BRIGHTENING SKY, will be published in 2014 and 2015. Her novels are represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency. She writes a lot, she reads as much as she can.

The list has changed over the years as I’ve changed and new writers have come onto the scene. There are so many good books out there, so many new worlds and viewpoints to explore. Potentially this list could get very long, but I’ll limit myself.

  • Elizabeth Bear is an autoread for me. Her worldbuilding is stunning, her use of language is amazing, and her characters suck me right into whatever story she’s telling. The women in Bear’s books are strong and autonomous, and they play central roles in the narrative.
  • Robin McKinley, for the beauty of her storytelling, and how a seemingly gentle story can kick me in the gut. The highest praise I can give a book is that it made me feel something: joy, sorrow, fear. McKinley’s books have made me cry more times than I can count. I love that.
  • Rae Carson, a new writer on the YA scene. Excellent worldbuilding in a non-European setting, and a main character that grows into the role fate has handed her. Carson’s use of language is superb, and just because her protag is young doesn’t mean she gets off easily. Can’t wait to see more from her.
  • Ian Tregillis, another new writer who pulls no punches. First rate storytelling, and characters that made me rethink my definitions of evil and what makes someone a monster. I can’t recommend his books highly enough.

There are more, but those are the top four on my current list.

Laura Bickle
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats. The latest updates on her YA and urban fantasy titles are available at

I always read Robin McKinley. My all-time favorite book is Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN. I read it when I was a pre-teen, and fell in love with fantasy ever after. It was the first book I’d read that had a female protagonist who slew her own dragons. I was hooked.

Lauren DeStefano is another favorite. The Chemical Garden Trilogy is a must-read. I love her characters and the dilemmas she places them in – just extraordinary work that really makes me feel. I can’t wait for The Internment Chronicles.

And Kij Johnson is always an automatic read for me. Her beautifully-drawn worlds and the way she breathes life into myths are simply gorgeous. FUDOKI was given to me as a gift several years ago, and I was in thrall.

Richard Kadrey
Richard Kadrey is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He is the author of dozens of stories, plus ten novels, including Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha from Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues, Metrophage and Butcher Bird. His Wired magazine cover story, “Carbon Copy”, was made into one of the worst movies of 2001. It starred Bridget Fonda. Sorry, Bridget. He has been immortalized as an action figure. “Kadray [sic]: The Invincible Wizard” was a villain in an episode of the Blackstar animated TV series. Kadrey created and wrote the Vertigo comics mini-series ACCELERATE, which was illustrated by the Pander Brothers. He plans to do more comic work in the near future. He has written and spoken about art, culture and technology for Wired, The San Francisco Chronicle, Discovery Online, The Site, SXSW and Wired For Sex on the G4 cable network. Richard has no qualifications for anything he does.

J.G. Ballard: Ballard’s style ranged from the purely experimental (The Atrocity Exhibition) to sincere autobiography. Whatever he aimed his imagination at he makes new and fascinating, whether it was the
psychological mystery of The Terminal Beach, the vivisection of modern consumer life in High Rise, the speed fetishism of Crash, or his surreal memoir, Empire of the Sun. Ballard is a writer I can always come back to and find something new.

William Gibson: Gibson is a storyteller whose tales are exciting on their own, but become more than mere stories in that they both
experience and explain modernity in a unique and entertaining way.

William Burroughs: Burroughs loved stories and distrusted words. Naked Lunch is one of the funniest, bloodiest books you’ll ever read. Nova Express is as deeply experimental as anything by Joyce and more science fictional. Some of his other works, such as Queer, are as brave and unflinching as his so-called “edgier” stuff.

Cormac McCarthy: McCarthy writes like an Old Testament prophet let loose with a typewriter in one hand and the bloody, battered heart of the world in the other. Blood Meridian, his dark and twisted western, is a book I can go back to again and again for both the story and the elegiac language. His Border Trilogy, his harrowing SF novel, The Road, and his play, The Sunset Limited, are all worthy or repeated readings.

Angela Carter: Carter gets to the heart of fantasy and fairy tales, rips them apart and put them back together again, transformed and
transfigured. She creates new stories that both expose the psychological roots of the old tales, and brings a bloody life to her newer ones. Some of her best are The Bloody Chamber, Nights at the Circus, and The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman.

Chris F. Holm
Chris F. Holm was born in Syracuse, New York, the grandson of a cop who passed along his passion for crime fiction. His work has appeared in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. He’s been an Anthony Award nominee, a Derringer Award finalist, and a Spinetingler Award winner. His Collector novels, published by Angry Robot books, recast the battle between heaven and hell as Golden Era crime pulp. He lives on the coast of Maine with his lovely wife and a noisy, noisy cat.

I confess, I’m a little mercenary when it comes to buying fiction. I rarely marry myself to the works of any living author, because I’ve been burned many a time by a lousy cash-in or unnecessary sequel. The bulk of my autoread list is populated by the long-dead – which seems like a cheat for the purpose of this question, because I’m able to evaluate the critical reception of their entire body of work before I take the proverbial plunge. I needn’t worry, for example, whether Ross Macdonald, P.G. Wodehouse, or Patricia Highsmith is ever going to write a clunker, do I?

That said, there are a few living authors whose stuff I’ll read regardless of topic or critical reception – folks whose voices or whose imaginations have so thoroughly captivated me, they’ve earned a lifetime pass. Tim Powers is one such author for me. Whether novel or short story, major work or minor, I’m in – regardless of premise. Lawrence Block, who hails from the crime side of my influences, is another. Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY was so damned compelling, I’ll check out anything she puts her name on from here on out in the hopes she might catch lightning twice. The many charming worlds of Jasper Fforde have yet to let me down. Whatever Susanna Clarke elects to publish in the wake of JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL is guaranteed to leap to the top of my to-be-read pile. And of course – like many reading this, I’m sure – William Gibson and Neil Gaiman take up no shortage of shelf-space in my house.

And then, of course, there are those writers I fell hard for, that have since passed. Vonnegut. Adams. Matheson. Westlake. I have an odd relationship with them, in that I adore their work, but worry that once I read it all, they’ll then be well and truly dead to me. Their books, I dole out slowly, so I never have to live in a world in which there are no more words of theirs to be read.

April Genevieve Tucholke
April Genevieve Tucholke lives in Oregon at the edge of a forest. Her forthcoming book, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, will be out August 15 from Penguin/Dial.

Susanna Clarke. I’ll read anything she writes. Anything. All. I’ve crawled in and out of Jonathan Strange’s ample arms no less than three times, twice on audio with Simon Prebble’s brilliant narration. And Clarke’s collection of short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu–I know it like the back of my hand. Clarke walks a seductive line between dry British wit and pitch dark fantasy. It brings me to my knees.

Scott Lynch. The Lies Of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies. Thieves, con artists, disguises, lies, revenge. I want to live in Lynch’s world. I want to be a Gentleman Bastard. The Republic Of Thieves comes out October 8 and I’m counting down the days.

George R. R. Martin. For all the obvious reasons.

Margo Lanagan. Her writing is often a bit too bleak for me, and her habit of switching perspectives leaves me reeling. But from Tender Morsels to her wild, dark, dark, dark short stories such as “A Thousand Flowers” in Zombies Vs. Unicorns, and “Singing My Sister Down” in Black Juice, Lanagan’s characters and worlds are unforgettable. They will weave themselves into your life and become part of you.

Lou Morgan
Lou Morgan’s short stories have appeared in anthologies from Solaris Books, PS Publishing and Jurassic. Her first novel, Blood and Feathers, has been shortlisted for the 2013 British Fantasy Awards in both the best newcomer and best fantasy novel categories. The sequel, Blood and Feathers: Rebellion has just been released. She spends far too much time on Twitter, where you will find her as @LouMorgan.

I’m something of a magpie when it comes to books. I have a lot of them, and I’m easily distracted by something shiny. Like most people who love books, too, it’s rare that I come out of a bookshop without at least one new thing to add to the pile by my bed – but there are always a few people who not only feature heavily on the TBR pile, they get to skip right to the top of it. I could probably read a shopping list written by any of these people and be happy with it.

The elephant (the, frankly, envy-inducingly brilliant elephant) in the room when it comes to talking about autoread lists is Neil Gaiman. How could he not be? The problem with having him on a list like this, though, is keeping up: you could fill an entire list with his work alone. And what a fantastic list it would be, full of novels and short stories and poems and comics and picture books and… So, with all possible respect to Mr Gaiman, we’ll take it as read that he’s on there and move on.

I’ve been reading Joanne Harris’s books since Chocolat was first published. I don’t always manage to get to them as soon as they’re released, but I’ll get to them as soon as I have the chance. There’s something magical about Harris’s writing: it’s atmospheric and rich and full of shadow and light. They’re subtle enough that if you aren’t paying attention you could miss them altogether, but there are things with sharp teeth lurking in the shadows, and the lights could easily be fireflies or fallen stars strung between trees. Her most famous creation, Vianne, deals in glamours – and so does Harris herself. She’s a prolific Twitter user, too, and every now and again she will post a story under the #storytime hashtag: sometimes there’s a moral (she had a particularly interesting take on the recent unmasking of JK Rowling’s pseudonym) and sometimes there isn’t – but they’re always worth reading.

Two YA authors whose work is pretty much guaranteed a place on my list are Will Hill and Kim Curran. Hill’s Department 19 series features one of my long-time loves: genuinely frightening vampires, most of whom are as twisted and as monstrous as you’d hope them to be. The books are very squarely YA, but there’s (literally) no pulling of punches – they’re brutal, bloody and have moments of real horror in them, not all of which is physical. They’re also fantastic fun, and reading them is sometimes a little like riding a rollercoaster which is also a ghost train through the middle of an action movie. Meanwhile, Curran’s Shift series is much more SF-based, involving quantum physics and a protagonist who can undo any decision he’s made… but must then deal with the consequences. These writers are a great example of some of the really exciting stuff happening in genre YA right now.

The absolute top of my autoread list, however, is Michael Marshall Smith – or Michael Marshall, or MM Smith, depending on which hat he happens to be wearing. He’s been my favourite author for years and I’m a sucker for his narrative voice. His latest book, We Are Here, is almost impossible to talk about without spoilering, but it left me looking around my empty house very nervously indeed – and if you haven’t read The Servants (his MM Smith novel, a story about a boy who moves to Brighton with his sick mother) then you’re missing out on a wonderful book. Look out for his short stories, too – but be careful: sometimes, they leave perfect, jagged, story-shaped scars which you’ll carry for a very long time.

Linda Grimes
Linda Grimes is the author of Tor’s light urban fantasy series featuring aura adaptor Ciel Halligan. Her second book, QUICK FIX, will be released on August 20. Linda enjoys reading (anything, including cereal boxes, if desperate), an occasional cocktail (make it a martini or a Manhattan, and she’ll be a friend for life), camels (the animals, not the cigarettes, and only when they’re not spitting), and parentheses. You can find her on Twitter @linda_grimes, or visit her website at

Oh, man. I have so many writers on my autoread least—it would take forever to list them. How about I give you a few from my “Auto Pre-Order and Drool Copiously While I Wait for Them” list instead?

Diana Gabaldon. Her big, fat historical time-travel fantasy romantic adventures (the Outlander series) feed every genre craving I have, all in one splendid package, and her offshoot Lord John mysteries are every bit as addicting. I’m currently drooling in anticipation of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, the eighth of the big novels. Jamie! Claire! Where are you? I need my fix!

Jim Butcher. Notably, the Dresden Files series—urban fantasy at its action-packed, loaded-with-fascinating-characters finest. Heck, I’m halfway in love with Harry Dresden. Who can resist a smartass wizard with a huge blasting rod? His brother Thomas, a White Court vampire—basically an incubus—has his charms, too. I devour these books as soon as I can get hold of them. They are just plain fun.

Vicki Pettersson. Her Signs of the Zodiac series got me hooked on urban fantasy, and I followed her over to the paranormal romance realm of her Celestial Blues series. Whether it’s hardcore kick-ass action or romance that will make your heart (and maybe a few other places) melt, Vicki always delivers. Her characters, both living and dead, resonate with me.

Resonance. That’s the key, for me, with all three of these authors. The proverbial “wow, that struck a chord” sensation you sometimes get while reading a book. It’s similar to what you feel with certain people you meet—an instant realization that you’re vibrating at the same frequency. Sometimes the chemistry is right, and you just click.

And sometimes you don’t. Have you ever read a book that you recognize as technically well-written, possibly even brilliant by some measures, but that leaves you flat? Like something is missing. That missing something—the vibe that resonates with you—is the “it” factor that brings me back to certain authors time after time.

The really cool thing about “it”? “It” can be different for every reader. I might love a book that you hate, or vice-versa. And that’s okay. The world would be a pretty boring place if “it” were the same for everyone. Vive la différence!

Douglas Wynne
Douglas Wynne is the author of the rock n roll horror novel The Devil of Echo Lake, which was a first place winner of JournalStone’s 2012 Horror Fiction contest, and Steel Breeze, which was out this month. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son and spends most of his time hanging out with a pack of dogs when he isn’t writing, playing guitar, or swinging a sword.

Neil Gaiman for mythic imagination and a gift for blending dread with humor, Clive Barker for his powerful vision and voice, Stephen King for empathy and storytelling that goes down as smooth as a milkshake, and David Mitchell for making every word count. If a dog barks in the distance in a David Mitchell book, that dog is saying something about a character, and I’m uncapping my highlighter.

Chelsea Mueller
Chelsea Mueller writes YA novels with badass female leads, blogs about books and TV at both Vampire Book Club and Heroes & Heartbreakers, and spends her evenings reminding guys that “hits like a girl” is a compliment. If you write fight scenes, you might enjoy reading her Krav Maga for Writers blog series that translate her martial arts skills to the page.

I have a ridiculously long auto-buy list, but there are three authors that I pre-order every title and devour their books as soon as they hit my Kindle: Richelle Mead, Stacia Kane and Jeaniene Frost. While all three are stellar authors, they’re favorites for specific reasons.

I have a Richelle Mead keeper shelf in my office. Yes, an entire shelf. Both her young adult novels in the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series and her adult books (Dark Swan, Georgina Kincaid and Age of X) are worth reading. Why do I come back to her stories over and over? Mead has a strong command of character. It’s one of the things I look for in every book I read, and Mead captures her main characters in a way that makes them feel real from page one.

Her heroines make bad decisions. All of them (but especially Eugenie from the Dark Swan books. She needed an intervention on some of those choices). The thing is, while they make poor choices that only complicate things, they’re absolutely the kind of choices those people would make. She never makes things easy for her characters, and conversely for readers. I like books that challenge me emotionally.

Stacia Kane has remarkable character development, too. There will be times in her Downside Ghosts books when you’ll want to look away from what’s happening on the page because your insides are twisting. That said, one the reasons she makes the pre-order favorites list is her stunning world building. Just like I want to feel like the characters are real people, I love a book that transports me to another place. I need to accept the rules of the world without anyone beating me over the head with them, and I want the chance to wish the places I visit in the book were real.

Kane does this in spades. Her alternative ‘verse Downside is much like our world with a twist. Bits of our history intertwine with elements unique to Downside. When I’m reading a Downside Ghosts book, I can smell the slaughterhouse on a hot summer night. I imagine the way my shoes would cling to the floor at Chuck’s. I understand why the main character Chess would want to hide out in the darker part of town. Kane makes Downside real, and every time I turn the page I slide a little closer to living there.

Finally, I buy everything Jeaniene Frost puts out. I don’t need to know the specifics. I don’t need to read the back cover. I know I want it regardless. You see, Frost manages to smash together enough romance and fighting into one book to make me a happy camper. I read novels on both sides of the spectrum there—lots of urban fantasy and plenty of paranormal romance. Frost gives me good doses of both. She delivers vampires, ghouls, shifters and Voodoo queens. She offers epic, bloody battles. And when the world is saved, people get to be in love. How could I not auto-buy that?

Laura Lam
Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

I don’t have that many auto-buy authors, but the ones I do have I am very loyal about buying their books. I’ll automatically buy books by: Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Margaret Atwood, Patrick Ness, Kate Atkinson, Michael Marshall (Smith), and Mo Hayder, What they all have in common are fantastic imagination and characterization. And even if a certain book doesn’t quite hit it for me (I didn’t enjoy The Crane Wife by Ness as much as his Chaos Walking trilogy, for example), I will still pick up their next book, because I know they can write books I’ll adore. Whenever I’m lazy and know I want to read something good, I’ll pick one of these authors, or re-read an old favourite by them. And, from a writer’s point of view, I’d be tickled pink if eventually I am on someone’s auto-read list, too!

Stephen Blackmoore
Stephen Blackmoore is the author of the novels City of the Lost and Dead Things and his short stories have appeared in publications such as Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, and Shots as well as print anthologies Deadly Treats, Don’t Read This Book and Uncage Me. He is an editor for the print magazine Needle: A Magazine of Noir and the co-host of the bi-monthly Los Angeles literary event NOIR AT THE BAR.

There are a lot of authors whose work I’m always interested in reading, Joe Lansdale, Charlie Huston, Neal Stephenson, dozens more, but there’s really only one that’s an instant buy for me. That’s Terry Pratchett.

That might seem kind of odd considering some of those other authors I listed. Most of my go tos tend to be a lot darker and more cynical than Pratchett, though god knows he’s pretty cynical.

The thing about Pratchett, though, is that he never gets pessimistic. He has an approach to the human condition that says, yes, life is hard. People are messy. Some of them are right bastards. But at the end of the day justice and compassion exist in strange places and if you’re smart enough and lucky enough you just might find it.

It helps that his writing is funny. It helps more than it’s smart. For my money the best fiction is the kind that comments on modern social issues through the lens of an unrelated story. He takes it one better.

Have you read MAKING MONEY? Not my favorite (GUARDS! GUARDS! holds that place), but he somehow manages to get across convoluted concepts of fiscal policy across within the framework of a fantasy novel without making the readers realize they’re learning something until it’s too late. He does the same with GOING POSTAL about the modern-day postal system, investigative journalism with THE TRUTH. The list goes on.

But above all his books are pure fun. And though there is a long list of authors whose work I will gobble up the minute I can get my hands on it, Pratchett is the one I know will always deliver.

Carolyn Turgeon
Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels: Rain Village (2006), Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story (2009), Mermaid (2011), which is being developed for film by Sony Pictures, and The Next Full Moon (2012), her first and only book for middle-grade readers. Her latest novel, The Fairest of Them All, comes out in August 2013 from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster and is about Rapunzel growing up to be Snow White’s stepmother. She lives in Pennsylvania and New York and teaches fiction writing at the University of Alaska at Anchorage’s Low-Residency MFA program. She’s currently at work on a new novel about Dante’s Beatrice, set in thirteenth-century Florence.

Like everyone else, I have a long list of favorite writers. I always read anything by Isabel Allende, Joanne Harris, Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, Aimee Bender, Francesca Lia Block, Carey Wallace, Diana Abu-Jaber… and other magic-loving ladies with A’s in their names. I tend to love a gorgeous blend of magic with realism, books that allow you to see the real world as more shimmery, more secret-filled, more exciting and strange, than you might see it normally. When I moved to Los Angeles for grad school in the mid-90s, I was lonely and missed the East Coast, hated all that glaring sunlight during what was supposed to be lovely, gloomy, rain-swept autumn. I even went to see the movie Seven in the theater five times, just for all that loud, pouring-down rain (and murder!). Then I read Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat and it made me see that city in a whole new way. Through her vision I learned to love the bougainvillea draped over everything, I sought out the funky spots she described in the book (Oki Dog! El Coyote!), and it just took on this whole sheen of sparkle and magic that I’d never seen before.

All the writers I listed above have that effect on me, and so I’ll forgive them anything. My favorite writer is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and one of my favorite moments in any book is at the opening of One Hundred Years of Solitude, when the gypsies bring ice to Macondo. Imagine seeing ice for the first time!

I also love historical novels by Phillipa Gregory and Sarah Dunant. I love anything by Jeanine Cummins, Jo-Ann Mapson, Ronlyn Domingue, MJ Rose, River Jordan… I love crime novels by Patricia Highsmith, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain… They may not be alive, but I still count on them regularly and forgive them any missteps from beyond the grave.

Django Wexler
Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not planning Shadow Campaigns, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts. Visit him online at

When I sat down to think about, I realized this was actually a tricky question. There are plenty of series that I will always go out and grab the newest volume of when it’s released — George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, for example — but I can’t say that I’ve read everything he’s written in his long career, and there are other series he works on that I don’t follow. An intermediate category would be authors who well-known works are all in the same series, such as Joe Abercrombie, Lev Grossman, or Pat Rothfuss; I would probably snap up any new work from any of them, but I have yet to have the chance to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.

That leaves a few authors that I’m willing to follow wherever they go, across series and genre. The ones I can think of are:

  • Terry Pratchett — Obviously he’s most famous for his Discworld series, which I love. But some of his earlier non-Discworld works, such as the Bromeliad trilogy and the Johnny Maxwell books, are also fantastic and well worth a look. And then of course there is Good Omens, one of the best fantasies of all time, which brings us to —
  • Neil Gaiman — A name I suspect that will show up on a lot of these lists. I got hooked on him with Sandman, read all his short story collections, and eagerly await every new novel. His style and prose skill make every one worth waiting for. (Favorites, aside from Good Omens and Sandman, are American Gods, his latest The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Neverwhere.)
  • China Miéville — After the first three Bas-Lag books, which I loved, Miéville has gone on a kind of wild genre-crossing ride, and I pick up his books just to see where he’s headed next. Not every installment works for me, but for every one that misses the mark there’s one where he blows me away. (My favorites are Iron Council, The City & The City, and Embassytown.)
  • Charles Stross — Stross bounces between a few series with some independent stuff mixed in. Like Miéville, not everything he produces is a hit with me, but I read them all anyway for those moments when he knocks it out of the park. (I love The Laundry Files, especially The Jennifer Morgue, and recently had a great time with Neptune’s Brood. Accelerando is an SF classic.)
Cat Winters
Cat Winters is the author of gothic historical fiction for teens. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, is a nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her second novel, The Cure for Dreaming, is coming Fall 2014.

In no particular order, here are four authors whose books I must get my hands on as quickly as possible.

  • Brian Selznick: I adored The Invention of Hugo Cabaret and the way Selznick intertwined history, fantasy, silent films, and spectacular illustrations to tell his story, so I grabbed a copy of his follow-up book, Wonderstruck, as soon as it was available. I just recently looked up whether or not he has another book on the way (sadly, I can’t find any hints at what’s up next for him), which proves to me this is one of my top autoread authors.
  • Ruta Sepetys: Between Shades of Gray is a gorgeous, heartbreaking historical read that deserves the accolades it received. I picked up Sepetys’s second novel, Out of the Easy, right after the book debuted this past spring.
  • Saundra Mitchell: I fell in love with Mitchell’s elegant prose and flare for the supernatural when I read her first novel, Shadowed Summer, and I followed her over to her magical young adult series that began with The Vespertine. Her next book, Mistwalker, will be out in early 2014, and you can bet I’ll be buying a copy. (Added bonus: Mitchell is extraordinarily kind and was the first author to blurb my debut novel.)
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón: The Shadow of the Wind is a complex, twisty, haunting, breathtaking mystery/historical thriller that made me an instant fan of the author. I’ve also read The Angel’s Game and The Prince of Mist, and I got the chance to see him discuss his newest book, The Prisoner of Heaven, in person during the past year.
About Kristin Centorcelli (842 Articles)
Kristin Centorcelli is the Associate Editor at SF Signal, proprietor of My Bookish Ways, a reviewer for Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and has also written for Crime Fiction Lover, Criminal Element, and Mystery Scene Magazine. She has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t).

19 Comments on MIND MELD: What Authors Are on Your Auto-Read List?

  1. Matt Forbeck – I’ve read his superheroes, vampires/Titanic mash-up, near future SF, SF murder thrillers, and fantasy westerns from him, and I love all of it. I’ve read his Magic: The Gathering comics as well, and they happen to be quite good as well. He’s never really disappointed me thus far.

    Nathan Long – I became a fan of his Warhammer Fantasy fiction, with his Gotrek & Felix and Ulrika the Vampire novels and then I followed him over to Night Shade Books where he published his first original series, Jane Carver of Waar, a sword and planet homage to ERB’s John Carter. Fantastic stuff.

    Paul S. Kemp – I’m a fan of his Forgotten Realms and Star Wars fiction, as well as his sword and sorcery novels from Angry Robot. Much like Matt and Nathan, he hasn’t disappointed me yet.

    Helen Lowe – Her Wall of Knight series is just amazing, standout fantasy that I’d compare any day of the year to what Raymond E. Feist and Tolkien have done.

    Jean Johnson – I’ve only read her military SF series, Theirs Not To Reason Why, and I love both books that have been released so far. Much as with Helen’s novels, these books are definitely at the top of the genre excellence. Highly recommended.

    Aliette de Bodard – Whether she is writing Asian SF or Aztec noir fantasy, I love her work. Very original, very detailed and very unique in both approach and character. Another author I’d recommend very highly.

  2. At one time Stephen King was on this list, but I’ve sort of wandered from that path. On the other hand, Joe Hill is definitely on the list. From comics to prose, Joe is a great storyteller.

    Neil Gaiman is on this list, too. I usually snatch up his books as soon as they are published and devour them.

    Daniel Abraham – he just might be the smartest writer in the genre today

    Mira Grant – Loved NEWSFLESH and really looking forward to Parasite.

  3. Brandon Sanderson is definitely an autoread for me, as is Jim Butcher.

  4. Brandon Sanderson – Every book I read of his seems to be in competition to be a new favorite. If you haven’t read his Mistborn series yet, go buy it so you can start it as soon as you’re done with the current book you’re reading. And The Way of Kings is the very definition of Epic.

    Jim Butcher – Whether you’re reading about Harry Dresden or the Cursors from his Codex Alera series, you’re going to be entranced.

    Orson Scott Card – Especially if its got any reference to Ender, but most of his worlds are well built.

    Patrick Rothfuss – Whenever his next book finally comes out, I’ll stop what I’m doing to go read it straight through.

    Terry Brooks – I’ve been known to stop in the middle of a book to read a new release from the world of Shannara.

  5. Cormac McCarthy, Gene Wolfe, Christopher Priest, Howard Waldrop, Robert Charles Wilson, Michael Connelly, Neil Gaiman, Joe Lansdale, George Pelecanos, Ian Rankin, Felix Gilman, China Mieville-and many more. No wonder I have a mile high to be read pile and this only includes writers still active which leaves out old favs like Jack Vance and Philip K. Dick.

  6. My list is:
    Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jim Butcher, Lynn Flewelling, Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, Jim C. Hines, Steven Brust. Potential additions may be Scott Lynch and Pat Rothfuss, depending on how I like their next books.

  7. Matte Lozenge // July 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm //

    OK, I’m ready to start a flame war here by asking, is Neil Gaiman overrepresented? I mean, sure he’s a great writer and his books are full of craft, imagination and entertainment. No debate there. What I mean is there are fifty or a hundred or more sf and fantasy writers who are his equal and who don’t show up on lists like this. Does Gaiman just have better marketing?

    • Gaiman is one of genre’s superstars and thus very popular…so it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’d be all over this list.

      • Matte Lozenge // July 31, 2013 at 4:07 pm //

        He’s on my autoread list too. He’s a superstar, sure. But is his writing that much better than his peers?

  8. Dave Thompson // July 31, 2013 at 3:46 pm //

    There are big ones like Gaiman, Mieville, Susanna Clarke, Joe Hill, etc. But my list of lesser sung Must Reads include:

    Daniel Abraham – whether he’s writing his own fiction, or co-writing it as James S.A. Corey, I want to read it all. He’s also written some of my absolute favorite short fiction, and I sincerely hope he one day returns to tell more stories from the 1,001 American Nights.

    N.K. Jemisin – Loved every book of hers I’ve read, and once I get started on them – can’t stop myself from reading. Her stories cast spells that leave me completely engrossed long after I’ve turned the last page.

    Robert Jackson Bennett – He’s relatively new one for me, but after listening to The Company Man, and then the Troupe, I’ll check out anything he writes. The way he works his plots and characters and brings them to such unexpected, fantastic crescendos at the end makes me so happy.

  9. spaceVulture // July 31, 2013 at 6:12 pm //

    Sir Terry Pratchett is automatic.
    Tim Pratt is next, although I just recently discovered him and I’m joyously exploring his back catalog.
    Sandy Mitchell is next. I have an on-again off-again love affair with 40K but Ciaphous Cain will always be on my bookshelf.
    Other than that, I can only mention Matthew Sanborn Smith and “Beware the Hairy Mango.” I adore his flash fiction and eagerly await every episode.

  10. Jack McDevitt and Robert J. Sawyer. And though I haven’t read all of their earlier work, for the past few years I’d include Nancy Kress and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

  11. Fly Away // July 31, 2013 at 9:51 pm //

    McDevitt, MM Smith, Eric Brown, Scalzi, Haldeman (but I’m losing faith in him).

  12. Paul Connelly // July 31, 2013 at 10:00 pm //

    The list keeps changing. One or two not so rewarding books is enough to knock a longstanding auto-read off. One good debut by a new writer can get them on the list, but that’s pretty provisional compared to the longstanding authors. In the latter sense, Ian Tregillis is on the list now, but I’ve only read two books by him so far. We’ll see what Necessary Evil does to his standing. Kari Sperring is also a two book auto-read so far. There are some three book wonders too, Amanda Downum, Steph Swainston, and Pierre Pevel. Don’t know what kind of staying power they will have.

    Carolyn Ives Gilman is on the list. Thomas Pynchon has been on the list just about forever. P. C. Hodgell has been on it for about half of forever, and Rosemary Kirstein has been on it pretty long too. And Tim Powers. If somebody found a lost Roger Zelazny manuscript I would read it no matter what it was about, but I guess you can’t really have deceased writers on the list when you’ve read all their existing output.

    What’s odd is that some of the writers I think most highly of aren’t on there, just because there is a book or two in their backlist that just doesn’t sound that appealing to me. Ursula K. KeGuin, Patricia McKillip, John Crowley, Alan Garner, Caitlin Kiernan, Robert Holdstock…the very best, but each has at least one work that I couldn’t work up an interest in. Whereas some of the writers on the list, especially the newer ones, fall more in the guilty pleasures category by comparison.

  13. I love this list! It’s great to know what authors other authors must read.

    I don’t have a large list, because I don’t go through as many books a year as I buy. But here are my must reads anyway:

    Haruki Murakami – He could write about anything and I would read it, he is one of my most favorite authors. I keep a copy of A Wild Sheep Chase in my cube for anyone who needs a book recommendation.

    Sharon Shinn – If it weren’t for Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series I would never have gotten into scifi/fantasy literature. I’ve always loved scifi since I can remember, but it was all tv, movies, and comics. That series captivated me and sucked me in.

    Trudi Canavan – Her Black Magician Series is the only book series I’ve re-read. I loved that series.

    Ursula K. Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness was such of an enjoyable read. I am ready to read the rest of her stuff.

  14. My auto-read list is pretty much a list of my favorite authors – Catherynne Valente, China Mieville, Scott Lynch, Steven Brust, Robert Jackson Bennett, Iain M. Banks, James S.A. Corey. . . . these are the people who skip the line to the front of my to-be-read list.

  15. I_Sell_Books // August 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm //

    Tanith Lee, CJ Cherryh, Violette Malan,Steven Erikson, Michael Marshall Smith, Richard K. Morgan, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Jim Butcher, to name a few current authors.

  16. Lots and lots of authors, let’s see:

    Mark Lawrence, Jim Butcher, James SA Corey, Neil Gaiman, Joe Abercrombie, George RR Martin, Daniel Abraham, Dan Abnett, Michael J. Sullivan, Brandon Sanderson, Ian Tregillis, Paul S. Kemp, Bernard Cornwell, Kim Newman, Brent Weeks, Adam Christopher, Michael Grant, Anthony Horowitz, Matt Fraction, Scott Snyder, Mark Waid, Gail Simone, Simon Scarrow, and lots more besides.

    A couple of them are comics writers, but the majority are writers of books. Some like Gaiman do both.

  17. b1gBLACK // August 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm //

    Not enough people said Sanderson! I would pre-buy every book he’ll ever write, right now if I could. He really upped the level and made me demand good fantasy. (I think I’d just finished the Richard and Kahlan series… which ended with, wgat seems, the author just churning out books to fulfill a contract.)
    Pat Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch are also at the tip-top of my list.

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