Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writers Whose Parents Are/Were Writers

Writers like Robert Louis Stevenson never had a taste for the family business and his family couldn't care less for his choice of career: writing. Reports have it the older Stevenson was exasperated by his son's decision to become a writer. Every generation has witnessed scuffles within families triggered by career choices of kids who are consequently, tagged black sheep for their decisions. Usually, the family business is at stake if the black sheep's cause is upheld.

However, there are several instances of a son or daughter rising to the occasion and taking up the gauntlet thrown down by a parent. What gives these peculiar moments magic is the pleasure of having an heir to carry on a beloved superstar/celebrity's legacy. A few great writers have been so honored by such deserving heirs. This article lists a handful of them.

Christopher Reuel Tolkien

Christopher Tolkien is the J. R. R. Tolkien's youngest son who is credited for doing extensive editorial work on unpublished works of his legendary father. The younger Tolkien who once classified Peter Jackson's live action adaption of his father's most popular work, The Lord of the Rings trilogy as "an action film for 25-year-olds," was responsible for putting the finishes touches and publication of Tolkien's The Silmarillion.

Christopher Tolkien edited and published many of his father's uncompleted manuscripts including: Unfinished Tales (1980); The History of Middle-Earth published in twelve volumes (1983-1996); The Children of Hurin (2007) and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun (2009).

Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien

Simon Tolkien is the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien and the first son of Christopher Tolkien. He is a British novelist and resides in Southern California. Right from his fortieth birthday, Simon Tolkien has written several novels. He was the member of the Tolkien family who cooperated and supported the makers of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy despite his father's (Christopher Tolkien) advice that the Tolkien estate have nothing to do with it.

Simon's published novels:
The Stepmother (2002); The Inheritance (2010); The King of Diamonds (2011); Orders from Berlin (2012).

Joe Hill

Joseph Hillstrom King better known by his pen name Joe King is the first son of writers Stephen and Tabitha King. Joe Hill who treads in his parents' footprints has taken to horror fiction. His desire to succeed based solely on his own merits rather than as the son of Stephen King led him to use the abbreviated form of his name.

Joe Hill has won many awards for his stories and written two novels and several short story collections including comics. His first novel Heart-Shaped Box reached #8 on the New York Times bestseller list.
His works include: 20th Century Ghosts (2005, collection); Heart-Shaped Box (2007); Horns (2010);
Comics: Locke & Key (2008); Kodiak (2010); The Cape (2010); The Cape (2011); The Cape: 1969 (2012).

His brother Owen King is also a writer.

Dirk Cussler

Son of Adventure writer Clive Cussler and namesake of his father's most famous character Dirk Pitt. Dirk Cussler has co-written several novels involving his namesake character with his father. It's beyond certain he will inherit and continue his father's literary legacy.

Cussler currently serves as President of NUMA, Clive Cussler's non-profit foundation National Underwater and Marine Agency which has discovered over 60 shipwreck sites.
Novels co-written with Clive Cussler include:
Black Wind (2004); Treasure of Khan (2006); Arctic Drift (2008); Crescent Dawn (2010); Poseidon's Arrow (2012).

Christopher Rice

Christopher Rice, full name Christopher Travis Rice is the son of poet Stan and Gothic writer Anne Rice. Unlike his mother, Christopher Rice writes thrillers, fantasy, and historical fiction. His five novels were all bestsellers.

Rice never graduated from university and abandoned his studies at a school of the Arts to pursue a career in screen play writing.

His novels include:
A Density of Souls (200); Snow Garden (2001); Light Before Day (2005); Blind Fall (2008); The Moonlit Earth (2010) The Heavens Rise (2013).

It's always a thrill to realize your favorite writers' legacy will be preserved long after they depart this terrestrial plane. Tolkien's son and grandson have excelled exceedingly in this arena, warming their father's and grandfather's memory to the hearts of fans around the world. It's a beautiful thing to reflect on these as amazing as these and to learn to be persuaded thereby.

Keep your pen bleeding.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

5 Adult Writers Who Hit Their Stride Penning Children's Books

Quite a few of the writers of adult fiction who eventually became great authors and whose books commanded considerable commercial success attained bestseller status only after writing children's books. A little online research should set anybody in doubt straight and prove this a statement of fact.

Photo credit:
These success stories appeal fiercely to hearts that believe in the power of determination nope, this idea is rather rooted in faith in the power of simple/childish things. Just like these writers have warmed themselves to the hearts of first, children and then to the entire human race.

Every one of us has at one time been kids so it's possible most of the authors mentioned would unplug a flood of childhood memories. I'd like to take the list from the top and begin with writers who walked this sod, first before adding the others who jumped on the bandwagon along the way.

1. J. M. Barrie (1860-1937)
Barrie published his first novel, Better Dead in 1887 and A Window in Thrums in 1889. He started writing plays in 1890. He married and divorced. It is reported that to mend his broken heart, Barrie took to going out for long walks. He would encounter the influence for his most famous work during one of these long walks; he met the Llewelyn Davies brothers who in turn inspired his best known work, Peter Pan. Barrie became the boys' guardian after their parents passed away.

In 1902, Barrie wrote a book The Little White Bird. His most famous character, Peter Pan made his first appearance in this work. He later wrote a play telling the adventures of the flying boy who never grew up in Neverland. It was warmly received by the audience to rave reviews. In 1911, he published a book Peter and Wendy based on his Peter Pan play. It became a bestseller with children and adults alike.

Popularly known as J. R. R. Tolkien began his career as a children's book author. Tolkien who was an English poet, writer and professor is best remembered as the author of such classics as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It is reported as matter of fact, that the writer had planned The Lord of the Rings as a sequel to his children's book, The Hobbit but gave up on the idea when the project seemed way too big to and considered writing an adult novel instead.

This great writer known today as the classic high fantasy writer started out as a children's writer. The Hobbit and the book for which he has become reader favorites, The Lord of the Rings form a connected series of tales and fictional histories and revolve around similar characters. Tolkien has been considered the father of high fantasy. In 2009, he was ranked the 5th top earning celebrity by Forbes.

3. E. B. White (1899-1985)
He it was who revised William S. Strunk's The Elements of Style. Elwyn Brooks White was the son of a piano manufacturer who was once offered a teaching job at a university but turned it down because he had dreams of becoming a writer.

White published his poetry in newspapers and finally got off to publishing a poetry collection. Later on, he published several books; Ho Hum (1931), Another Ho Hum (1932) and Every Day Is Saturday (1934). But it would not be until 1945 that White would really hit his stride with the children's classic Stuart Little and in 1952 he published his most famous book, Charlotte's Web. According to a Publisher's Weekly survey in 2000, Charlotte's Web is the bestselling children's paperback of all time and has sold over 45 million copies.

4. Judy Blume (1938- )
In 1969, Blume (real name Judith Sussman) published The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo. It was her first book. In 1972 she published one of her best known works, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. In the decade that followed publication of her first book, Blume released over 13 children's books that performed well in the market. She made her break writing for children and teens and then she moved on to the adult market.

Her first adult novel made it to the New York Times bestseller list. The paperback of her third novel Summer Sisters spent several weeks at #1 of the New York Times bestseller list. Blume's books have exceeded sales of 80 million and have been translated into 31 languages.

5. J. K. Rowling (1965- )
In 2012 J. K. Rowling published her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy. Before that time (this is a little bit boring. Com'on people, we all heard it before), she made history with a series of fantasy books called Harry Potter. The story of a bespectacled young wizard and his two friends.

J. K. Rowling has quite the resume for an author; the Harry Potter books have won multiple awards and sold over 450 million copies worldwide. Flogging herself over publicity for her adult novel would be the least of J. K. Rowling's (real name Joanne Rowling) worries. Not when the world grabs for anything that's got her name printed on it.

I'm not saying these authors went out of their way to publish children's books with calculated intent of getting at the adults (parents)-the idea here is whatever book pricks your child's interest will without argument grab yours and when such an author writes an adult novel you will go for it. But possibly, it may have crossed the minds of one or two of these writers, don't you think? In any case, these creative minds did not limit themselves to one market and because they had the courage to branch out, they discovered the limitless prairies of success.
Do you not have something you should rather be writing?

Make your pen bleed!


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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stephen King's 'Greatest' Achievement

With Tabitha (wife) & Owen (son)
Stephen King has sort of become a staple wherever the horror genre is discussed. It's almost impossible to not think of King when the terror-inducing genre crosses your mind. Whether you are a fan of the genre, of the writer or a torrid critic of either the form of writing or the writer. And a reviewer said, "Stephen King polarizes writers."

His name, craft and career are yet to fossilize in a stint that spans nearly five decades. From the 70s when he was known as the Prince of Horror right into the 21st century, the King of Horror has pretty much maintained up in the game that seems to be constantly undergoing  organic mutation at the turn of each decade.

Stephen King who once said of himself, "I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries"  has thrown in a good measure of his genius in development of the genre for which he is widely celebrated. And his works have had immeasurable influence on hundreds of writers including yours truly repping the ministry of fear in Nigeria.

I think I'll go out on a limb and say Stephen King seems to have achieved a feat possibly, no other writer has aspired to or come close to accomplishing; he converted members of his family into a fear factory.

King met his wife in the late 1960s at the University of Maine where he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper. Tabitha is quoted as saying jokingly, "He married me for my typewriter." Tabitha published her first novel, Small World at age 32; a fantasy about a mad scientist and his evil device. Stephen King was on his eighth published novel and seven years into his writing career at the time. The nonfiction book Danse Macabre had just been released.

Tabitha King has gone on to release over eight novels and two nonfiction books so far. Wikipedia lists her genres as horror, science fiction and fantasy. Seen any connection with the style of the Master?

With Joe Hill (son)
Joe Hill, Stephen King's first son decided he wanted to succeed on his own merits rather than as Stephen King's son. Even though, online speculations about his link to Stephen King abounded since 2005, it was not until 2007 that Joe Hill acknowledged his kinship with the Horror meister. And only after he achieved considerable success on his own.

His first book, 20th Century Ghosts, a collection of 14 short stories was published in 2005 and won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection including a British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story for Best New Horror. His first novel, Heart-Shaped Box (published February, 2007) reached #8 on the New York Times bestseller list. Hill had gone on to collaborate with his dad on at least one project.

Joe Hill writes horror, dark fantasy and science fiction. Second convert towing the same line with the master.

Owen King is the last of King's children and even he has chosen to follow his father's obsession. His first book, We're All In This Together: (A Novella and Short Stories) was published in 2005. Since then, he has published another collection Who Can Save Us Now? he has published a debut novel, Double Feature (2013). He co-wrote a screenplay with his brother Joe Hill titled Fade Away.

Owen King has had several of his stories published in anthologies and magazines and won several awards. Although, several of his stories feature what might be termed horror as one interviewer said, "Owen King's approach is more literary, and any terror contained in his stories is wholly inspired by real life." (Does that mean more gore or less gore?)  His stories focus on broken families or strange relationships and edge on redemption and forgiveness.

It's an amazing story, yes? The influence, and I might add positive inspiration a man can execute over the life and career of his family. With the Kings writing is indeed a family business. You think you ought to go and do likewise?

Keep your pen bleeding!


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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Top 10 Bestselling Fantasy Book Series

Updated June.13.2015

Enter a world where anything is possible. Step into all that's pure magic and sorcery, a universe of damsels in distress, of dragons and dungeons; of faeries and myths; of legends and stories of forever afters.
Enter the realm of (drum rolls please) fantasy. 

Fantasy has accomplished much through the ages and the bigger the volume the better its impact on lives of readers. What you have here is a collection of ten of the best selling fantasy series only. That means if your favorite fantasy book happens to be just one volume, rest assured, you wouldn't find it among these. Even if it sold over a billion copies. While there may be one or two series still being written, many are over and done with.

But whichever one of these bestselling books you choose for your next reading assignment, the magic is guaranteed to take your breath away!

10. Shannara by Terry Brooks

Beginning with The Sword of Shannara in 1977, the plot of this epic fantasy series stretches over 20 books and still counting. The stories combine magic and primitive technology and the setting is in the Four Lands which is sometimes, identified as a burned out Earth long after civilization has been destroyed in what the books call the Great Wars.

The protagonists in the series are of a noble family called Shannara.
This epic has sold over 21 million copies worldwide and it gives me great pleasure to present it to you as #1o of the highest selling fantasy series.

A young man, Richard Cypher is the protagonist. He is a Westland woods guide whose simple life is forever changed after he becomes the Seeker of Truth, a responsibility to uphold justice in the world is thrust on his young shoulders in an instant.
On November 1, 2008, ABC Studios began a television series adaptation of the novels, titled Legend of the Seeker. 
The Sword of Truth is a series of twelve epic fantasy novels began in 1994. Translated into more than 20 languages about 25 million copies of the franchise has been sold worldwide.

A heroic fantasy series by the Japanese author Kaoru Kurimoto. Guin Saga is the longest continuing single-writer's work in the world with a total 130 volumes, the last four books in the series was published posthumously.

The main character is a warrior who goes by the name Guin. He is set against a dangerous world that's controlled by magic.

The total circulation exceeds 28 million copies worldwide.

7. The Dark Tower by Stephen King

This epic/high fantasy by horror writer, Stephen King follows the adventures of Roland Deschain in his quest for The Dark Tower. King says the series was inspired by Robert Browning's poem, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.

There is a total of eight books in the series published between 1982 and 2012. Besides the eight novels that make up the series proper, many of Stephen King's other books relate to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into play as the series progresses. King has described his fantasy series which incorporates multiple genres like fantasy, science fantasy, dark fantasy, and western, as "western spaghetti meets Lord of the Rings."

As of 2010 more than 30 million copies of the series have been sold in 40 countries.

6. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

The first time I watched the movie, Eragon I was hooked. Just like that. It was love at first sight. The movie which is a spin-off of the first book in the series of the same name was a masterpiece of the fantasy genre.
In the fictional land of AlagaĆ«sia, there was an order which oversaw the countries and brought peace to the world. This group was known as the Dragon Riders, for they rode dragons, at the birth of which a bond was formed in accordance with a pact made between elves and dragons millennia earlier. (Wikipedia)

The first book in the series was self-published by the family publishing company, Paolini International, and Paolini toured several educational institutions self-promoting his book.
Eragon  was published in 2002 and became a New York Times bestseller. The four books of the fantasy series was published between 2002 and 2011 and has since gone on to sell over 33 million copies.

5. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

This epic fantasy was originally planned as a six-book fantasy series but now spans about thirteen volumes with the latest book released on 8 January 2013.  The series binds various elements of both European and Asian mythology like the cyclical nature of time found in Hinduism and Buddhism, the concepts of balance found in Daoism, and a form of the creation story similar to that of Christianity.

The original author, Robert Jordan passed away before the last book was written. The extensive notes he left behind was used by Wheel of Time fan, author Brandon Sanderson to develop an extra three volumes to the series. The eighth through thirteenth books each reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list.
The series has reached over 44 million copies worldwide.

4. Discworld by Terry Pratchet

The world called Discworld from which the series derives its name is flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin. As of September 2011, 39 Discworld novels have been published.

The first volume, The Colour of Magic was published in 1983 and the most recent Snuff which became the third fastest selling book in the first week of publication. The author has expressed his wish that he would be happy for his daughter to continue the series when he is no longer fit to go on (he suffers from Alzheimer's).
The series has achieved worldwide fame with over 70 million copies sold in 37 languages.

3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

A series of four vampire-themed fantasy romance novels. The series is most popular among young adults. The story is told from the POV of a teenage girl, Bella Swan who falls in love with a 104 year old vampire who goes by the name, Edward Cullen.

The first book in the series Twilight was released in 2005 and since then the books have become the favorite of millions of fans across the globe. The series has won multiple awards.

The series has sold over 116 million copies worldwide.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Published in London between 1950 and 1956, The Chronicles of Narnia is Lewis' best known work. A series of seven high fantasy novels set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic inhabited by talking animals. The books are considered a children's classic. The work treats multiple themes. Traditional christian themes are interwoven with Greek, Roman and Turkish mythology.

The series has sold over 120 million copies and has been translated into over 47 languages.

1. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels. The series chronicles the adventures of a young wizard, Harry Potter and his two friends. The first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released on 30 June 1997. Since then, all the books have gained immense popularity and worldwide commercial success.
The book series has sold about 450 million copies and that makes it the best-selling book series in history. The Harry Potter franchise has been translated into about 67 languages. The last four novels in the series consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history.

That's it, folks. Great fantasy book series to kill any dull moment. By the way, this list was made possible by information retrieved from Wikipedia. It's such fun to have limitless resource next door.


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