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 Jamie Schultz. Jamie Schultz has worked as a rocket test engineer, an environmental consultant, a technical writer, and a construction worker, among other things. He lives in Dallas, Texas. His first novel, Premonitions, received a starred review from Library Journal, who called it “a sterling urban fantasy debut with a great cast of characters.”
Writing a short list of Cool Books I’m Excited About is wonderfully easy—except for the “short” part. When friends I haven’t seen for a while visit me, I load them up in a fashion more than a little reminiscent of that creepy junk collecting woman in the movie Labyrinth, piling Sarah with every last thing she can put her hands on. “Oh, and you’ll need a copy of this! And this! Wait, you mean you haven’t read this?” And then they’re buried under an avalanche of books they couldn’t possibly fit in their luggage. I’ll try to exercise somewhat more restraint here…
- The Red Tree, by Caitlín R. Kiernan. This is a story of a writer who is possibly beset by supernatural forces, possibly losing her mind, and possibly both, and it is a masterwork. I tell everybody to read it and I bring it up every chance I get, to the point where I’m probably getting boring on the subject, but it conjures up this sense of otherworldly dread and uncertainty about the world around you that is truly harrowing. It’s tough to place neatly in a genre—you could call it horror or maybe fantasy, but it would just slip away from you, so I have to settle for a bad comparison instead: The only other thing I’d put in the same class as The Red Tree is Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, which is a different animal entirely in terms of execution, but packs some of the same emotional wallop. Probably that doesn’t help clarify things any, but it’s what I got.
- Lexicon, by Max Barry. A story of a secret society that has learned a language that directly manipulates people’s brains, bypassing all the usual cognitive processing. In the book, a Very Bad Word escapes into the world and wreaks all kinds of destruction. I don’t know if I’d call this science fiction or fantasy, but it’s one of those plus thriller. This is one of Barry’s best, but ever since Jennifer Government, I’ll read anything he puts his name on.
- Monstrous Affections, by David Nickle. This is a collection of short stories—all horror, all the time. Nickle doesn’t go for cheap thrills and blood-and-gore so much as writing something that disturbs you by the time you finish and only continues to disturb you more as it gnaws on you over the following days. A great example is the story “The Mayor Will Make a Brief Statement and Then Take Questions.” It’s short at less than two pages, and it is utterly chilling.
Stay tuned for the next post where we get reading recommendations from Sarah McCarry!