One Book to Fuel them all…

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Another reading theme for Post 6 in the Indie Block Party: What are the top 5 books you absolutely love?

This is harder, perhaps, than listing my Top 5 Movies, games/MMORPGS, and even music. Immediately reminds me of BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs where celebrity ‘castaways’ name their top eight record choices, plus a book and a luxury, as well as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and The Bible (or similar text). Except here it is just books, I’m no celebrity – yet – but I can pretend to be a castaway.

So what five absolutely loved books would I take to this desert island… where my Kindle won’t be charged for more than a few chapters. Need to be paperbacks or hardbacks then.

1.   J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: this has always headed my list of favourite books and it is nowadays classed as a classic. Other options of that ilk, Classics, would include Great Expectations, Heart of Darkness, 1984 and others, but this is the one I re-read every few years. It has always inspired me whether I need to escape into another world or in my writing. Is that the same thing? And I have been able to see my vision of Middle Earth on screen plus been there in a gaming world. That is also echoed now in the Professor’s words. (As is the Blog title). I also have the hardback set that I read in my late teens back in the late 1970’s.

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2.   Charles de Lint’s Greenmantle: staying on the fantasy theme although de Lint is the master of blending genres, in this case fantasy and crime. Of course John Buchan had already used the title and I remember following Richard Hannay through thrilling adventures, when I was in my teens. But de Lint’s Greenmantle is both magical and gritty. Urban fantasy at its very best. And I re-read it a few months ago.

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3.    Linwood Barclay’s No Time for Goodbye: to me this is a crime-thriller novel that I can re-read, even if I vaguely remember the circuitous complexities of the plot, which is so well woven. Barclay is a master of the art of leading you astray and yet it all fits logically, when you reach the end. My crime novel of choice would have been Agatha Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd, but I’ve read it too many times to get lost in its cleverness. So now I choose Barclay. Would a series count as one book?

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4.   Anne McCaffrey’s The White Dragon: once I discovered McCaffrey’s Pern series about dragons, Thread and so much more, I was hooked. Of all her Pern books this is the one with the best characters, best plot, and best surprises – especially if you’ve read all the books before this one. Sadly lost my copies of the Pern books so must go online and order at least this one before I leave for the island.

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5.   Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist:  such a small book and yet vast in its depth. The Alchemist is gold dust… magical fairy dust from a true artist, poet, and alchemist. If you haven’t read it – why not? If you have, then re-read, or try his other masterpieces. It opened my mind in the same way that Antoine de St Exupery’s The Little Prince http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Prince did.

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Well that’s it, folks… or is it:

6.   Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: I know this is more than five but I’m using the Infinite Improbability Drive. Plus there has to be humor and for me this was a laugh that I could re-live over and over again without the joke getting stale. And bonus this is the beginning of “a trilogy in five parts”. (Another review at: http://www.intothebook.net/2011/10/hitchhikers-guide-to-galaxy-douglas.html)

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Okay I’ll stick by the Catch 22 rules, forget I had a cat called Oliver, and head for Casterbridge, all to avoid another War and Peace.

Feel another Blog creeping up on me – Lord of the Lists. What Lists should I have? Movies, MMORPGs, music, maybe even poems.

What do you suggest?

Please visit the Blogs of other Indie Block Party participants via: http://felwetzig.com/indie-block-party/

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Millie Burns: Dragon Writer

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For my 4th Post in the Indy Block Party, it is my pleasure to interview Millie Burns, author of ‘Return of the Crown’ and currently working on its sequel, ‘Zelera’s Revenge’. She has to be a Dragon Writer as she would surely find a place among the riders & harpers in Anna McCaffrey’s Pern series.  Enough of my musings, on to the interview.

1.   When did your love of Dragons begin?

I’ve been a lover of fantasy type stories for as long as I can remember.  A couple of my favorite dragons come from both movies and novels.  I fell in love with Scarlet the dragon in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.  I loved Draco from the movie Dragonheart, voiced by Sean Connery.  Both those dragons are noble but also have a great sense of humor.  I also have a special place in my heart for the Luck Dragon in the Neverending Story.  I think I’m a little like Hagrid, if I met someone down at the pub, who had an egg…well, let’s just say I’d need to fireproof my house!

2.  Dragons have had bad press ever since St George claimed to be the hero. Some of us suspect that the truth was perverted. Your dragons are a noble breed. What is their version of the truth?

Ena teases that she’d like to eat some of my human characters, but really she loves sheep!  She’ll settle for a cow or a couple goats, but roasted leg of lamb is snout licking delish to her!  She tries very hard not to take too much from any single farmer, and occasionally feels a little guilt at stealing from them.  Her anger with humankind stems from people killing dragons for their skins, their blood, and their hearts.  All the parts of the dragon have very magical properties.  I can’t blame her for being suspicious of humans, and Zelera did steal one of her eggs.

3.   Do you plot your books or are they quests as they unfold?                        

I start with a rough outline.  A beginning, a few things I want to happen in the middle, and an end.  But here’s the deal.  While my story will look similar to the outline when I’m finished, it tends to be a half-step off to the side in places.  Which is delightful.  Most times when I divert from course, it’s a huge improvement from where I started.  I still have about 20,000 words left in my WIP (at least that’s what I think I have left) and I’d like to say I know where I’m going with it, but those darn characters often rebel, and, well, I guess I’m a pushover as an author, ’cause I let them take the wheel at times. 

 

4.   How do you find your inspiration?

I think all my writing is just an extension of the world around me.  (Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I do actually have a dragon).  Just joshing.  I have always had an overactive imagination, or maybe for me, it is just the right amount of energy with a sense of wonder.  “What if” is a favorite question of mine.    

 

5.   World creation is an essential part of fantasy. What is your approach to making your world believable as well as fantastical?

I want people to be able to see the world, so they can partake in the adventure.  So I make much of my world filled with scenery that is common to ours.  I use creatures common in our mythology (and when I say ours, I mean it, the whole world’s.  I’m not picky!)  I may take liberties with said characters and their abilities, but I try to base them on available folklore : )  Then I try to paint out my magical elements in a way that they can be seen, felt, smelt and tasted (very sensory driven). 

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6.   What’s the BEST writing advice you have ever received?           

Write every single day.  Some days I wonder though, doesn’t signing your name on a credit card slip or the bottom of a check count?  Sigh, no?  Life can get in the way once in a while, but I just keep chugging along!

7.   What are your aim and ambition in writing?

I think knowing my story really entertained someone, that’s the greatest feeling in the world.  I have a neighbor girl, who showed up on my doorstep one afternoon.  She held my book out towards me in trembling hands, she couldn’t even find her voice to ask for an autograph.  It made my heart melt! 

I also sponsored a writing contest at my daughter’s elementary school last year, and chose a winner from each grade level.  Every child’s story was published in an anthology I put together.  This year, a mom came up to me, just thanking me profusely for inspiring her daughter.  Her daughter wrote an article for the little neighborhood newspaper, and has begun an outline for a book series (she’s in fourth grade this year).  So, outside of pleasing the characters in my head that have stories they want to share, I hope that I can continue helping foster a love of creative writing in the next generation!

So, my aim and ambition are to keep getting better, and keep having fun writing, so I can share my joy of fantasy and adventure with others. 

I’d like to give a big thank you to Roland, for stepping up to interview me, as my next door neighbor seems to be AWOL. 

 

It has been my pleasure Millie to learn about your writing world. Many thanks for taking time out to talk with everyone.

Further Author information at: http://burnsmillie.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Further Book information at: http://returnofthecrown.com/

 

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For other Indie Block Party participants visit: http://scotzig.com/2013/07/08/indie-block-party/

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