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Monday, December 14, 2015

10 books that have inspired me- Guest Post by Paul Barrett + giveaway

Hey, I have a book coming out in seven days. So after you’ve watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens until your eyeballs start to bleed, I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of the book and give it a read. It’s called A Whisper of Death and it’s about a Necromancer who’s actually a good guy, even though the power he wields is actually pretty evil. He has to use his power to save his world from an even nastier evil. And he does even though his kind of magic-users are pretty much universally disliked. So that makes him a pretty cool guy, in my book. (See what I did there?).

So to celebrate my book coming out, and to give a better look into my mind (a frightening prospect at best) I wanted to offer up the 10 books that have inspired me, either as a writer or a person.(and in some cases, both.) So in no particular order, here they are:

1. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND – (Robert Heinlein, 1961) – Taken by today’s standards, this book is incredibly sexist, and Heinlein wasn’t exactly known for his equality with females, although all his female characters were much stronger than they sometimes appeared on the surface. His later work got a bit heavy-handed, but this was when he was in prime writing form. The story of Valentine Michael Smith, the Earthling who lived among Martians and then returned to earth, is a beautiful and satirical meditation on religion, the cult movements of the late 50’s, and the general stupidity of the herd mentality. It also has one of the best characters ever written in the form of one Jubal Harshaw, who becomes Smith’s mentor and, in many ways, his downfall. A masterwork from a master of sci-fi.

2. THE PRINCE OF TIDES – (Pat Conroy, 1986) – Conroy is a master of language, and he’s never more eloquent than in this story of the doomed Wingo family, told through the eyes of Tom Wingo, whose brother died young and whose sister has attempted suicide. The story is incredibly bleak, although it ends on a hopeful note. But the main thing here is how Conroy tells the story. His turn of phrase and descriptive powers are a goal I strive for and hope to someday achieve.
3. THE LORD OF THE RINGS (J.R.R. Tolkien, 1954) – But that’s three books, I hear you say. Not so. It was originally intended as one book by Tolkien, but the publisher decided to split it into three. So I consider it one book. Obviously, this is the granddaddy of modern fantasy, the one book to rule them all. Nothing to really say that hasn’t been said, except that it fueled my lifelong love of fantasy.
4. ‘SALEM’S LOT (Stephen King, 1975) – Stephen King has certainly written better books, but none that have ever grabbed me on the visceral level like this one did. It remains the only book over 100 pages that I’ve read in one sitting, staying up into the scary wee hours to finish it. The image of the boy vampire scratching at the second story window can still give me shivers.
5. SWAN SONG (Robert McCammon, 1987) – Stephen King’s The Stand got all the glory, but I happen to feel this is a better novel about a similar subject. The characters come to life in this beautifully written story about a horrible subject. The idea of nuclear annihilation was quite alive in the 80’s. Maybe not as much as in the 60’s, but certainly it was there. This story took that horror and laid out the aftermath, but then brought in element of fantasy that just made it sing to my young mind. I listened to the audiobook recently and the story still held me enthralled.

6. THE FARSEER TRILOGY (Robin Hobb, 1995-1997) – Okay, I am going to cheat little here and lump these three books together, because they tell a continuous story about FitzChivalry Farseer, a bastard turned into an assassin and doing all he can against great odds to save his kingdom. Robin Hobb writes complex fantasy characters better than anyone I’ve read and puts them through so much hell you almost feel she hates them all. Like Conroy, she’s another author I strive to learn from in creating rich characters. She also has quite a living, breathing world in the Six Duchies and really in any of her worlds. Another series of hers I adore is the Liveship Traders.

7. ENDER’S GAME (Orson Scott Card, 1985) – Given Card’s recent political views, I hesitated to add this one, but facts can’t be denied. (Well, they can, but they shouldn’t). This book threw me for a loop when I read it. Following the journey of Ender as he learned to become his best self, only to have the surprise ending of the story pull the rug out from both him and the readers, rocked my world. The later books were certainly diminishing returns, and I will never again read a Card novel, but this one certainly left its mark on me.
8. ON WRITING (Stephen King, 2000) – Writing is a tough thing, and all writers go through their ups and downs of wanting to just stop. Whenever I feel that way, I go back and read a chapter or two of this book and it always gets me back on track. Part memoir, part writing guide, it’s an inspirational work that should be required reading for all creative writing students.
9. THE STORIES OF EDGAR ALLEN POE – Okay, not really a book, but my early exposure to Poe certainly informed my love of the macabre and proved to my family that I both loved to be scared and was a complete weirdo.

10. CONFESSIONS OF A FREELANCE PENMONKEY – (Chuck Wendig, 2011) – Another book on writing, this one is by the insane and incredibly talented Chuck Wendig. He talks about writing in a no-nonsense and hilariously profane way that is like a swift kick in the pants. If you want to be a writer, or if you are a writer and just want some great advice given in a unique way, this is the book to snag.

So there you go, the books that made me the writer I am, for better or worse. Hopefully this will inspire you to read some of them. After you read A Whisper of Death, of course.

A Whisper of Death (The Necromancer Series Book 1)
by Paul Barrett
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC
Date of Publication: December 22, 2015
Cover Artist: Jess Small
Born with the power of ultimate evil, he is the world’s only chance at survival.

Erick Darvaul is a Necromancer, a descendant of the original sorcerers who turned against their dark masters and exiled them. Now these beings have returned, it falls upon Erick and a cadre of newfound allies to rally against these powerful entities and defeat them again.

Through fire, ambush, and betrayal, Erick and his companions claw their way to Broken Mountain to reunite with others who share his ability. There, Erick battles the mortal foe of his ancestors pushing the limits of his Necromantic magic, a force that seeks to corrupt him every time he summons it.

About the Author:
Paul has lived a varied life full of excitement and adventure. Not really, but it sounds good as an opening line.

Paul’s multiple careers have included: rock and roll roadie, children’s theater stage manager, television camera operator, mortgage banker, and support specialist for Microsoft Excel.

This eclectic mix prepared him to go into his true love: motion picture production. He has produced two motion pictures and two documentaries: His film Night Feeders released on DVD in 2007, and Cold Storage was released by Lionsgate in 2010

Amidst all this, Paul has worked on his writing, starting with his first short story, about Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, at age 8. Paul has written and produced numerous commercial and industrial video scripts in his tenure with his forcreative agency, Indievision. He has two published short stories (As You Sow and Double Cross) and one self-published novel (Godchild). He lives with his filmmaker/graphic artist partner and their three cats.
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  1. I'll have to check out the Chuck Wendig book sounds interesting. Good Luck on the book!

  2. Whisper of Death sounds like a book that I would really like to read. I love the cover and the trailer. Thank you for the chance at a giveaway.

  3. This is definitely my kind of book. I love fantasy novels, especially dark fantasy.