Monday, October 28, 2013

Reads for Writers: J. Butcher & CE Murphy Provide Masterclasses

Homage to Halloween

From Kate's Writing Crate…

As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.

        Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don't generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice and/or creativity.

        Since it is October, I'm recommending fiction that relates to Halloween. The paranormal genre may not appeal to everyone, but I've found reading strong writing in any form helps improve my writing. Both of the series I'm recommending show excellent examples of all of the reasons I listed in the introduction plus humor and action scenes.

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series features Harry Dresden, the only wizard Private Investigator in Chicago. He has made his share of mistakes and enemies, but is always willing to work hard when hired or help when needed by friends or the police. However, he's having a tough time making a living at the moment.

Human residents live their lives discounting most things magical, but the police know better. To keep order in the city, a Special Investigations unit has been set up led by Lieutenant Karrin Murphy who calls on Dresden whenever the inexplicable plays a role in a crime.

The series, beginning with Storm Front, works well on several levels. There are new crimes for Harry and friends to solve in every book, but there is also an over arcing theme of the greater battle of good and evil.

Butcher's writing is so gripping at one point in the series I was holding the book so hard my knuckles hurt. I generally don't enjoy being scared—for the most part these books are more exciting than scary—but the anticipation of one magical creature's entrance into Harry's life took me back to the vibrating water cup scene in Jurassic Park, the movie, announcing the arrival of the terrifying T-Rex.

There are 13 books in the Dresden series currently. I didn't like Book Three as much as the rest of the series. I'm reading Book Ten now.

C E Murphy writes The Walker Papers series. The captivating eight book series centers around Joanne Walker, a police officer who discovers she is a shaman. Along with friends, family, fellow cops, and some supernatural allies, she defeats foes to save Seattle and, at times, the world.

It's hard to put these books down with the author's signature page-turning pace, twisty plots, and fearless, funny, and frightening characters. The romantic tension between Officer Walker and her boss, Captain Morrison, offers another layer to this series that begins with Urban Shaman.

        One of the most endearing characters we meet is taxi driver Gary Muldoon on page 15. He is gallant, loyal, recently widowed, and ready for anything—the perfect sidekick for a shaman-in-training who needs all the help she can get.

Summed up on the back of his own book, No Dominion, ninth in the series: [Since meeting shaman Joanne Walker] "Gary has trifled with gods, met mystics, slain zombies…But now Gary must…fight a battle only he can win…because it becomes clear that it was not illness that took his wife's life, but their enemy's deadly touch."
        Enjoy becoming a better writer by reading!      

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