5 Things I loved in 2014

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger Simply put, this is a novel that saw Kent take his game to the next level. Kent’s Cork O’Connor series is, in my opinion, one of the best ongoing series today. The characters age, love, suffer loss and grow. OG is the author’s second stand-alone (He, and his publisher, prefer not tot talk about the first) and finds Kent mining his childhood memories and craft the southern Minnesota setting. And in doing so, gives the readers the sights, sounds and even smells of small town middle America in the 50s. He does an amazing job and delivers a book that feels more like a recollection than a...

Five Movies that changed my life

1. THE WIZARD OF OZ The movie that introduced me to fear. I know I’m nowhere near alone in this sentiment. It’s become almost a time-honored tradition to scare the bejesus out of small children with this move about a girl from Kansas who gets lost. What particularly got me were the squadrons of flying monkeys leaping from the witch’s castle into the night sky. They entered my dreams, and taught me that fear can be fascinating. Why else would I anxiously await the yearly viewing of this nightmarish children’s film? 2. CHARADE I was ten years old, and watched this 1963 comedy thriller on television with my mom. I recognized its lighthearted,...

Five Cop Shows That Influenced Me

Five Cop Shows That Influenced Me When is set out to write my PROSPERO’S WAR speculative crime fictions series, my goal was to combine all the things I loved about great cop shows with the world building I am used to using in contemporary fantasy novels. In fact, the idea for the series came while watching a popular crime fiction show, and I thought it would be fun to recap some of the excellent TV writing that influenced these books. 1. THE WIRE. Everyone says The Wire, right? But I really mean it. It was while watching an episode of this series that my idea for the Prospero’s War series came to me. I think it was a scene where Omar was...

Five artists: Matt Cairns

      Five artists who have helped shape the course of my life   C.S.Lewis (deceased), author of children’s dreams As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of the Narnia Chronicles. I owned the entire series, reading each book more than once. Monsters, magic, mythical creatures, with real human kids in amongst it. Real human kids! (You have no idea how many wardrobes I climbed into, and how gutted I was when the back wall was, well, a back wall.) And then there was Aslan, the talking Lion. How cool was he? Everyone had their favorites. Mine was The Voyage of the Dawntreader. I can’t quite remember why (old age does that), but I think it...

Five that influenced me: Trey R Barker

Mom’s bookshelves were a wonderland of universes. Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions (the title of which scared me to death when I was exceedingly young), Fahrenheit 451, The Stand, Down To A Sunless Sea. Simak and Clarke, Hemingway and Steinbeck; Bruce Catton’s Civil War trilogy: Mr. Lincoln’s Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox. Our house was the biggest library on the block and she made sure I had a public library card when I was in elementary school. She looked at every book selection I made from both the public and school libraries, read most of them, and even read the first book I ever checked out on my own with...

Five Things That Changed My World: Paul Charles

THE TOP FIVE THAT CHANGED MY WORLD. PLEASE PLEASE ME – The Beatles Yes there may very well have been better singles that followed from the Fabs but the impact that this infectious classic single made on me at the time can never be denied and nor would I try. ASTRAL WEEKS – Van Morrison Might still just be the perfect example of an album, long-player, CD, call it what you will, that has ever been released. Astral Weeks is also one of the best collections of (connecting) short stories ever published. TWO LORRIES – Seamus Heaney From his excellent The Spirit Level and to my eyes and ears a beautiful filmic short story of...