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As a prolific reader and a student of the art, I am greatly interested in writers both past and present.  While I may one day take a closer look at the classics, the following four authors are current novelists who most appeal to my sense of story and craft as a writer.  My list is totally subjective and those highlighted here are in keeping with my personal preferences.  Their genres vary greatly, and while I have not and would not attempt to imitate their styles, I would consider myself blessed if my writing was ever favorably compared to theirs.


Stephen King – The Master


Too easy?  Naw.  Believe it or not, there are actually some people who don't like King's work.  Whether it be because they don't like horror, supernatural, sci-fi, suspense, or scenes that depict people sticking their hand in a garbage disposal, who knows?  But if you want to see how a master commands the written word and transforms sentences into works of art, I suggest you read 11/22/63 – just to pick one of his more recent works.  If you are a writer and have not yet purchased On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft," do so!  Now!  Otherwise a crazy clown monster will come and eat your babies.  You've been warned.

Gillian Flynn – Queen of Dark


Of the four authors I've listed, Ms. Flynn is the one I'd most like to meet for a glass of wine and conversation.  In a public place.  With no Sharp Objects on the table.  And witnesses.  Not only is she a superlative writer, she repeatedly answers the question that men now wish they had never asked, "what are women really thinking?"  Holy Hades!  To every woman I ever dated – or married – or passed on the street – forgive me!  So why meet her?  Because she has so much talent I want to be nearby when some of it spills out.  Also because I'm the type of guy who jumps out of airplanes, rides motorcycles, and runs around the room holding scissors – I love danger.

Cherie Priest – (Steampunk) Rock Star


Ahhhh...  Steampunk.  Proof that there is something new under the sun.  If you don't get Steampunk, you don't get Steampunk.  If you don't get Cherie Priest, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  Ms. Priest Rocks!  Fortunately for me, the very first Steampunk I read was Boneshaker, a typical Civil War-era story about a boy, his devoted mother, zombies, air pirates, and a runaway drilling machine that destroys Seattle.  Seriously.  Here's the thing; Cherie Priest is such a caring and exquisite writer it's all perfectly believable.  Her prose often surpasses any literary works I've read and her voice so dominates her characters, setting, and plot, you don't read her books, you experience them.   And if all that wasn't enough, her novels feature some of the best cover art on the planet.    

Mary Beth Keane – Cool. Bewitching. Real.


Mary Beth Keane doesn't write books, she creates illusion with words.  Fever, a historical drama about Mary Mallon (aka Typhoid Mary) is pure magic.  Ms. Keane does such an incredible job of blending the historical Mallon with dramatized Mallon the reader forgets it's not an autobiography.  Indeed, it's as if Ms. Keane went back in time, crawled inside Mary Mallon's head, took copious notes, then came back to the future and wrote a novel.  While I confess a special appreciation for Ms. Keane's writing because I worked in public health for 26 years, Fever is a compelling cautionary tale about government's clumsy efforts to balance the safety of the public with the rights of the individual that should scare the bejeebers out of anyone. 

Shameless Solicitation ('s a bribe)

If any of the above mentioned authors would be inclined to take pity on a modestly talented but extremely dedicated writer and request a copy of my Black Hearts|White Bones manuscript I will be more than happy to buy you an adult beverage of your choice.  If you are actually moved to write a positive review of the novel I'll buy a whole case.   Heck, I'll send you a half-case even if the review is negative, because from where I'm sitting that would really be cool in its own weird way.  And, after all, I'm  a writer rational thought is not a given.

If you are a published author not mentioned above and are interested in taking advantage of some variation of this once in a lifetime offer, contact me.  I'm sure we can work something out.  It doesn't take a lot to convince me that libatons shared over good conversation is a good idea.

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