This past fall, I read Magic to the Bone, the first book of the Allie Beckstrom series by Devon Monk. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s an urban fantasy novel set in Portland – but in a parallel time where magic is a commodity and a – relatively – normal part of life. I had enjoyed the book, but it didn’t give me the gotta-get-the-next-one-NOW urge that some books do (perhaps because my list of books I want to read had already surpassed the time I had to read them in).
However, as I am debating about trying my own hand at urban fantasy, my mind kept going back to Devon Monk. I was curious to read about her writing journey. Turns out, she’s a writing fiend! She has written nine Allie Beckstrom books in four years from 2008 to 2012. Oh, and she started a Western steampunk series in 2011, and has written at least one manuscript for an Allie Beckstrom spinoff series. Yes, over ten books. In just over four years… Holy cow! That’s a whole lotta books in a five year period – and they are good, too. I was amazed.
But even more than that, as I was perusing her blog, I stumbled upon an unedited, maybe-won’t-even-make-it-to-the-final-draft scene from Hell Bent, the first book in her Allie Beckstrom spinoff series. You can find that scene here, and I recommend you take a minute to read it. I read it, and I was blown away. It’s not that long. Not a lot happens. But we learn a lot about the characters in a natural way (no info-dumping, no lengthy jaunts to the past, no lost-in-thought moments), and I was instantly drawn in. Now, it’s probably helped by the fact that this is not her first rodeo, but Monk’s voice in this scene, her characterization, her pacing – all of it really grabbed me. And this is not even her final draft! From that scene alone, I know I will be buying this book in November.
As I continue to read Orson Scott Card’s book on creating characters, Monk’s blog post seemed timely. Her scene encapsulated what I am aspiring to do, although, Lord knows, I’m not there yet by any stretch of the imagination.
Are there any authors who have really made an impact on your writing journey? Any interesting urban fantasy books that represent the genre and need to make it onto my To-Read list?