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Friday, October 2, 2020

Dark Fantasy Author Mark Kirkbride’s Top Five Favorite Authors + giveaway

Mark Kirkbride’s Top Five Favorite Authors 

My list of top five favorite authors changes all the time. It’s a constantly shifting chart with new entries, climbers and fallers. I’ll find a new favorite author, go through his or her entire back catalogue, then, with nothing more to read, ultimately move on. There’s usually a bit of horror, a bit of science fiction, some fantasy and a lot of literary. Counting down, then, here we go: 

5. Pat Barker
It was a close one here between David Mitchell (for Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas) but I decided to go with Pat Barker, primarily for her Regeneration Trilogy and Border Crossing. The trilogy is a fascinating study of the duty of war versus the pull of peace as exemplified by the lives and work of the World War I poets. My wife and I both read Border Crossing and it’s as if we read a completely different book, such was the gulf between our interpretations of the ending – a measure of the richness of the characterization. (Pat Barker’s early work is also well worth checking out.)

4. Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson comes in next because if you can imagine it, he probably got there before you. So many great ideas shading into different genres. I Am Legend helped kickstart all things zombie. Then there’s the charming time-travelling whimsy of Bid Time Return (better known as Somewhere in Time) and Summerland and the descent into hell of What Dreams May Come. What the latter two novels are about, above all else, is love. My new novella The Plot Against Heaven probably owes a debt of gratitude to What Dreams May Come just as my last novel, Game Changers of the Apocalypse, doubtless did to I Am Legend.

3. Mary Shelley
Again, it was a close one here. It was either going to be Edgar Allan Poe for his macabre imagination or Mary Shelley for Frankenstein. Frankenstein is such an iconic story for horror and sf, embodying – unifying – both. It might seem a rather tired story now thanks to all the derivative texts and films but the original telling remains fresh and surprisingly moving.

2. Jonathan Franzen
When I read Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, there were parts of it that made me think that this generation had finally found its Shakespeare. It wasn’t just good, it was mind-blowingly good, with a finger on so many pulses.

1. JG Ballard
But at No.1 it’s JG Ballard, who remained consistently interesting throughout his writing life, publishing sometimes challenging but always thought-provoking work. Highlights for me would be The Crystal World (with its gorgeous descriptions of refracted light), Concrete Island (for updating Robinson Crusoe), The Kindness of Women (for its oblique glimpses into the making of the novels) and the later, more thriller-y Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes.

So there it is, my top five favorite authors. Thank ewe for reading and thank ewe to I Smell Sheep. Though if you ask me in six months, ewe might well get a different answer. Baa-a-a! 

by Mark Kirkbride
3rd October 2020
Publisher: Omnium Gatherum
61 pages
Genre: dark fantasy
Hell-bent on confronting God after the death of wife Kate, Paul gate-crashes heaven. With immigration problems and a wall, heaven turns out to be nowhere near as welcoming as expected. Both heaven and hell are modern, militarised, and the cold war that exists between them is about to heat up, with him in the middle of it. Caught on the wrong side of heaven, Paul faces an impossible choice if he’s to have any hope of seeing Kate again.
Mark Kirkbride lives in Shepperton, England. He is the author of The Plot Against Heaven, Game Changers of the Apocalypse and Satan’s Fan Club, all published by Omnium Gatherum. Game Changers of the Apocalypse was a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards 2019. His short stories can be found in Under the Bed, Sci Phi Journal, Disclaimer Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine and So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. His poetry has appeared in the Big Issue, the Morning Star, the Daily Mirror, Sein und Werden and Horror Writers Association chapbooks.

an ecopy of The Plot Against Heaven

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  1. I liked your list. On my list would be several including Stephan Manchester.

    1. Many thanks, Debby. Yes, it's really hard boiling it down to 5. And thank you for the recommendation. Will check him out.