Authors have to start somewhere. They start off as unknowns, struggling to find a foothold in the industry. They may get lucky and have a great marketing team and publisher, resulting in a bestseller. But most struggle to make enough to pay the bills. There are a lot of lesser-known authors out there that are actually quite good. They just need more exposure. Although the guy in the picture below is not unknown, you usually don’t see him this young.
Question 13: Can you recommend an author you enjoy that is not well-known? Why did you choose them?
Earlier in the year I read Lost Everything by Brian Francis Slattery. It caught my eye because the setting (post apocalyptic, in a region of the US ruined by war and natural disasters) and protagonist (grieving father with a shady past) felt very similar to what I’d created in Jasper. The story itself is, of course, different and beautifully written. I’d describe the writing style as almost dreamlike. So if I were to recommend an author, it’d be this one.
I came across Sharon Shinn at a used book sale and decided to pick up one of her books because it was about angels. I fell in love with her style immediately, and the richness of her worlds and depth of her characters are very compelling. She may be fairly well known, but it’s quite difficult to find her in the store… she’s widely available online though.
Ohhhhh. I am currently reading two ladies, both Southern mysteries and both are very funny. One I think is better known than the second.
Susan M. Boyer writes the Liz Talbot Mysteries. Lowcountry Boil was the first and Lowcountry Bombshell is the second. Please write a third! These books are smart and funny. They have just enough local color to make me want to visit South Carolina and drink Cheerwine on the beach.
Jana DeLeon writes the Miss Fortune Mystery Series. There are 5 books in the series, I’ve read 3. I found the first one, Louisiana Longshot, for free on my kindle and quickly bought the next two. They are hysterical. The series is set in a fictional swamp town in Louisiana. The main character finds herself in crazy situations with a pair of geriatric busy bodies…with military training. The books are filled with Southern sass. Love them.
Douglas Hulick‘s Among Thieves was my favorite novel discovery of the past year. I happened upon it in a bookstore while I was there on a job. I’m a sucker for a man with a sword who seems to be up to no good on the cover. The writing is excellent and the main character utterly enjoyable. I devoured it in a single day. His second book was out in May, but I haven’t had the time to sit down and properly enjoy a book since reading the first one so I’m saving it until I do.
Hands down, Michelle Browne is one author that needs more love and deserves every ounce of it that she has. She is an amazing writer with insane ideas and also she’s a grade A editor. She also has her ear to the ground on a lot of what goes on in the world, and she’s smart and knowledgeable (making a distinction between the two). She writers horror, dystopian, sci-fi and a little of everything between. More about her at her blog.
Excluding the really famous ones, I’m not even always aware of how known an author is. Several times I’ve started reading books by an author I didn’t know much about only to find that they were more famous than I’d realized before I started reading them.
I guess I’m pretty sure that Beth Revis isn’t all that well-known in the grand scheme of things, and she’s an easy recommendation to explain because she does fill a specific niche, being the only modern author of young adult space science fiction that I can think of.
An underappreciated author whose work I really appreciate is Jason Skipper. His book Hustle is a beautiful exploration of three generations of men who are each flawed yet somehow are unforgettable.
Honestly, most of the authors that I read are the well-known ones, because I don’t have a lot of spare time to go mucking around searching for gems in the rough. But one author that I would recommend from my childhood who is probably not very well-known anymore is Monica Hughes. She wrote one of my favorite novels of all time, Invitation to the Game, which I purchased at a book fair when I was in elementary school and have read at least twenty times since. It still holds a special place on my bookshelf, and as of late I’ve been itching to read it again. Mrs Hughes created a chillingly plausible dystopian future for the book, and the entire idea of The Game still gives me little shivers to this day. An excellently-written book, for sure, and she has several other excellent ones as well, so go check her out!
I’m not sure what qualifies as “not well known.” So many people damn Heinlein without actually reading any of his books. Others know of a few popular books but not the really good ones by some authors. Less-known authors that I’d recommend: Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Jane Lindskold, Paul Cook, C. S. Friedman, Janet Kagan, Doris Lessing, R. M. Meluch, Daniel Keys Moran, to name a few.
Hmm. Joe Hill is becoming famous now, what with Horns being made into a movie, but he does really fantastic short stories — better than his novels. Heather Gladney only wrote two books back in the late eighties, but I love them so much and wish she’d finished the trilogy! Argh! And Max Gladstone just recently broke into the fantasy scene with his Craft Sequence novels, in which gods operate like corporations and magic is a matter of law… Really interesting ideas, vivid visuals and clever plotting, all of which I could only wish to emulate. Oh, also Mark Z. Danielewski, who wrote House of Leaves — he’s good at weird, twisty, dense and vaguely haunted stories presented in very non-standardly formatted text.
I think I have a lot of authors to add to my to read list from the answers above. My recommended lesser-known authors would include a few that I’ve discovered in the past couple years. One is Michael R. Hicks with his In Her Name series of science fiction novels. He does military science fiction with some great characterisations. I also have to mention Tony Bertauski, who wrote one of my top five books last year, The Annihilation of Foreverland. Some good young adult science fiction.
How about you?
I’m sure everyone who reads has some lesser-known favourites. Which authors do you think deserve more attention? Leave your suggestions in the comments.