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Three Writers Three

As I enjoy this lull between huge writing projects (ironically, both in my own writing as well as at the Day Job, which explains the sudden outpouring of journal entries), I've been looking over the various articles and web links I've accumulated over the years that deal with the profession of fiction writing. Lots of good stuff in that file, including this one by Holly Lisle.

I came across this one a couple years back (her Web site is jam-packed with stuff, some of it good, some of it not, but most of it is intriguing), and I never considered trying her suggestions. Until now.

She suggests finding a fiction writer, someone who's writing now in similar genres as what I'm writing, and follow their career, from first book to most recent. Find out all you can about their career's ups and downs, the lulls, the quiet years when nothing was published. Read all their books and see how their writing style changed and evolved (or not). Learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.

Intrigued, I came up with three writers who fit the bill: Tim Powers, Neil Gaiman, and Graham Joyce.

I've read just a few of Tim Powers' "secret-history" urban fantasy novels and short stories, and I am always in awe of not just his writing skill, but his plotting abilities and his use of history as a springboard for his novels. And he's been writing professionally for quite some time, at least two decades, which is impressive, as he only writes a novel once every 2-3 years. Finally, the man has won a ton of writing awards for his fiction, including some Nebulas and World Fantasy Awards. I've got a bunch of his books and look forward to tracking down the other 4-5 I don't have, then I need to read 'em.

Neil Gaiman, I think most people know these days. I've been reading his fiction since the Sandman comic, and the guy's mix of fantasy and folklore and realism has always blown me away. He's a prolific fellow, too, and I've read probably a quarter of all his stuff, including most of his prose. Tracking down all his miscellaneous comics, graphic novels, kids' books, and other quirky things should be a fun challenge. He's been writing full-time for at least 10-15 years, and his writing has continued to improve, as witnessed by his excellent "A Study in Emerald" from the latest Year's Best Horror and Fantasy anthology.

And finally, the author I'm most excited about reading and about is Graham Joyce. He most recently won the World Fantasy Award for his latest book, The Facts of Life, and I think his writing style is probably closest to my own. He seems to approach fantasy with a mainstream/literary angle, something I like a lot, especially because he's not BORING like most "lit" writers. Great characters and writing. I've got his first novel, Dreamside, and I started reading it last night. He's also been writing full-time for about 10 years or so, and while not as prolific as Gaiman, he puts out an award-winning book about every other year these days. I also like his blue-collar background and judging from what I've heard about him from friends, he's a good guy. I don't think you can be a great writer if you're an ass.

So that's my plan -- read lots of Joyce, Gaiman, and Powers in the coming year(s). How about you -- which author (or authors) would you model your own writing career after? Let me know. Later!

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