Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir MitchellStorm Moon Press and its new imprint, Wild Moon Books, will be traipsing over the blogosphere throughout October for their yearly blog tour. Today I'm hosting Aleksandr Voinov and a special edition of the Inside Reader serial.
1. William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August
I read those at university – people kept messing with how many credits I needed in what, and just as I thought I was finished and was complete, they changed the system again and I was one literature course short. I joined the only course that didn’t clash with my schedule and ended up, late, in a course examining Faulkner’s three masterworks. Faulkner is of course not unproblematic, but he’s a master of the English language and probably the technically best writer I’ve ever read. There are so many passages that leave you stunned and breathless, and, if you’re a writer, thoroughly humbled. Whenever the muse runs dry, I go back to Faulkner. (Yes, I know that’s three books, but I love ethem all for the same reason.)
2. Erich Maria Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front
A book (and film) so powerful that the Nazis banned it, citing its “negative influence on the morale of our troops” as the reason. For me, it’s almost the natural companion piece of Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel (below). The German experience of WWI, fighting in the trenches, all the futility and dehumanization of war rolled into one book. Still an incredibly anti-war book and a great study in how war needs to be written.
3. Ernst Jünger: Storm of Steel
Jünger writes about the same things Remarque does, but he’s far more a soldier and embraced war as a “test of character and manhood”, if you like. His perspective is totally different from Remarque’s, but I found both books very illuminating, especially read right after each other. Of course, one author was banned by the Nazis, while Jünger was a celebrity through much of the same period. A totally different way to write about war and no less true and compelling.
4. George Orwell: 1984, Animal Farm
As a kid I was quite possibly traumatised by “Animal Farm” (and Boxer’s fate especially). In any case, I saw the film way too young (because all cartoons are clearly for kids…, errr, not), and it took forever before I would willingly expose myself to all the nasty stuff in “Animal Farm”, this time somewhat more grown up and with a better understanding of the background. “1984” just blew me away with how bleak and terrible it is, but the prose is so beautiful and the mood is so strong. On a political level, both books have made me profoundly sceptical of any authoritarian state and system (and states or religions that use authoritarian methods), as the most powerful lesson in both books is that the powerful are mostly interested in staying in power.
5. Homer: The Iliad
I literally grew up on a diet of sagas and fairy tales and epics like the Iliad. Favourite character? Achilleus, by far. The big epic struggle of the story is compelling, as are the characters, as everything is driven to its inevitable conclusion. I always preferred the original epics to everything that came after – I much prefer the original here to every retelling and much prefer the Nordic sagas to anything Tolkien as made of them.
After all these high-brow classics, a few more recent books that had a huge impact.
6. A M Tuomala: Erekos
Probably my favourite fantasy novel and right up there with “The Last Unicorn” for me. Tuomala’s language and world-building are both utterly hypnotic, and the novel is a rich tapestry of many influences and so much is going on under the surface. A book you want to explore over and over again and that came right at a time when I was thoroughly disenchanted with all epic fantasy. Tuomala shows how fantasy can be written in a way to overcome all the trite stupidity running rampant in the “boy finds magic artefact and goes off to slay evil” genre.
7. Garth Ennis: Punisher MAX
What do you do when life hands you old lemons? You reinvent them. Ennis’ run on the Punisher was nothing short of spectacular (yes, it had stupid and silly moments, but it didn’t consist of them), as he, unlike many other writers, simply “got” Frank Castle, who’s somewhat unhinged and somewhat sad and Ennis brings to it his simply glee for gore and ultra-violence, but it’s the quiet moments where the run really shines. The Punisher is a terrible one-trick pony, as he only does one thing and does it pretty well, but he’s also beautifully messed up, and one of my favourite fictional characters ever… so much so that one of my very few attempts at fanfiction was the novel “Collateral”, co-written with lj user gileonnen and all about Frank Castle (and Tony Stark).
8. Kirby Crow: Angels of the Deep
One of the best horror novels I’ve read in my life, and for me right up there with Clive Barker’s “Cabal” – myth used to become horror and fantasy and just epic awesomeness. This is one of those books that are wasted in the niche and should really break out into the mainstream. Kirby’s language and imagination are stunning and intense – I loved every minute of it and “Angels” is one of the rare books that I keep re-reading. I also really like angels (and fallen angels) that kick ass – I never got the idea that angels are fluffy winged innocents… not if you’ve read your Old Testament carefully.
9. Manna Francis: The Administration
Manna Francis is a rare talent, and I devoured The Administration – it has all the things a writer and a story needs: compelling characters, deep psychological insight, consistent worldbuilding and the courage to look into the abyss of humanity (also, redeeming characters that seem irredeemable). She shows you how it’s done, and I admire her courage immensely. There’s no pandering to anybody in here – and that makes it an even more precious gift of a story.
And now, I’m breaking the rules to talk about one book that isn’t even out yet.
10. Erastes: Junction X
It’s not published and it’s Erastes as you haven’t read her (yet). It’s dark and intense and heartbreaking and tragic, but I do think Junction X is the best book Erastes has written. I was blown away when I read it, and I’m immensely pleased that she has finally found a publisher for it (Cheyenne Press, November 2011).
About Aleksandr Voinov: Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London where, after four years in financial journalism, he is now making his living as an editor at an investment bank, freelance writer and creative writing teacher. At 35 years of age, Voinov has written about 13 novels and commercially published five with German publishers. After many years working in the horror, science fiction, cyberpunk and fantasy genres, Voinov has set his sights now on contemporary and historical erotic gay novels. He published his non-commercial work as Vashtan.
Voinov's characters are often scarred lonely souls at odds with their environment and pitted against odds that make or break them. He described the perfect ending for his books as "the characters make it out alive, but at a terrible cost, usually by the skin of their teeth. I want to see what's at the core of them, and stripping them down to that core is rarely pleasant for them. But it does make them wiser, and often stronger people."
Voinov's style has been called "dynamic to the point of breathlessness", "dark to the point of fatalism" and "disturbingly poetic" by publishers and literary agents.
Voinov has just barely enough time to take care of a Chinese elm bonsai standing on his desk, goes weight-lifting, and confuses opponents as a left-hander in foil fencing. Intellectually, Voinov is drawn to the dark side of human nature and history. As a trained historian, Voinov is fascinated by wars, religion and the conflict between the individual and society (see "Test of Faith" and "Spoils of War").
Blurb for Counterpunch from Storm Moon Press.
Fight like a man, or die like a slave.
Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he's the "Mean Machine", a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummelling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.
When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn's services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it "love"—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn's conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.
All pre-orders will be entered into a drawing for one of three prizes: a poster of the Counterpunch cover art signed by the author, a copy of the Counterpunch paperback signed by the author, or the grand prize: choice of a Kindle or a $115 gift certificate to Amazon! In addition, everyone who pre-orders the ebook will be able to access it 48 hours prior to the official release date! Go to http://www.stormmoonpress.com/books/Counterpunch.aspx to pre-order your copy now!
Storm Moon Press was founded January 2010 with the goal of publishing quality GLBT erotic romances and erotica. They publish all genres, including fantasy, paranormal, horror, urban fantasy, contemporary, and science fiction. They are also very open to not only gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans* stories, but also those showcasing alternative lifestyles such as BDSM, ménage à trois, and polyamory.
During their 2011 year, they decided to branch out with an imprint for mainstream erotic romances and erotica that had the same goal: publishing only quality erotic fiction. Storm Moon Press and Wild Moon Books both have many anthology calls out and are actively seeking novella and novel length submissions. Readers can see what they have, what's in store, and maybe even be introduced to a new author or two. Follow them around on the blog tour, get to know them, and comment! Comments get you into contests, and contests are just fun. ;)
The contests, of course, include their annual Swag Bag Giveaway. To enter for a chance to win our HUGE swag bag, go to THIS POST HERE. You can either comment on the post or make a twitter mention to be entered. For their international fans (outside the USA), they have a special International Giveaway HERE. Follow along and have fun!