There have been so many authors and books I’ve loved over the years, it’s really difficult to pick just one. In the romance genre, favorites are Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series and Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series. But I read other genres, too. I’m particularly fond of urban fantasy, even without romantic elements. My newest “favorite” author is Seanan McGuire. Her October Daye character is compelling. And of course, I love Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden. Who doesn’t?
I’m also strongly drawn to mythology and all things Celtic. The symbolism is just so rich. And the Arthurian legend has a timeless appeal. I think I’ve read most fantasy depictions of both Arthur and the grail myth. My favorites are by Marian Zimmer Bradley and Mary Stewart.
For most of my reading life, I didn’t write. Not fiction anyway. I’ve always been steeped in mythology, but that was as an analyst, not a writer. I’m not sure how I jumped the fence from reader to reader and author. I blame one of my other passions, mountaineering, for the transition. I’ve spent years’ worth of days in the backcountry. Even if I was part of a climbing party, people travel at different rates, so my time in the mountains has mostly always been by myself. That sort of solitude gives you lots of “head time.” What went on in my head were stories. Mostly urban fantasy, but high fantasy and science fiction as well.
I came back from a trip where we climbed Bear Creek Spire over Labor Day 2008 and did something different. I sat down at my keyboard. Three months later, I had a five hundred page novel. It wasn’t very good. How could it have been? Writing is a craft just like anything else. But it was a beginning. I learned a lot between writing that book and its sequel. At the tail end of 2009, my first short story, a hard science fiction tale set in Antarctica, was published. In the intervening three years, I’ve managed to get three novels (soon to be four) and over twenty pieces of shorter fiction published by a variety of webzines, magazines, anthologies and small presses. Just to keep things honest, I’ve had double that number rejected.
Along the way I’ve developed a huge respect for writers. Most of our time isn’t spent writing. Nope. It’s spent editing or marketing. Terry Brooks wrote a book called Sometimes the Magic Works. Apparently he writes his manuscript once, edits it once and it done. My jaw dropped open when I read that. By the time I’m done with any of my manuscripts, I’ve read them over so many times I know if a comma’s been moved. For those of you who might be curious, that’s between six and ten times, more if you count my back-and-forth writing style. It’s not so bad when it’s a short story or novella, but those hundred thousand word novels are an enormous time commitment.
Circling back to authors and genres, my very favorite blend is paranormal romance. I fell in love with the romance genre (no pun intended) when I was much younger. There’s nothing quite so good at sweeping me away as a strong, sexy alpha. It’s even better if he’s a shifter. The dual animal nature makes a guy that much more appealing. On the gal front, I like them with attitude: resilient and gutsy. No shrinking violets in my books. Also no “rescue me” maidens. Reading is a wonderful escape, so the characters need to be larger than life: brave, bold, and adventuresome, both in the bedroom and out.
Who are your favorite fictional characters? Why him (or her) and not a different one? I’d love to hear from you.
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search, and Psyche’s Promise are small press publications available in e-format and paperback. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.