If you're a reader - and a well-read one at that - then you know better than most how many hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS of great writers exist that you've never read, and may never read. As a writer, you know this intuitively - even as the glow of your first published work settles in, you realize you're just one drop of water lost in an unimaginably huge ocean.
As a reader, though - especially if you're like I was five or six years ago, have two or three "go to" authors you read all the time - this sort of thing slips under the radar. You sorta know there are probably some other good authors out there, but you've got your two or three, and you're fine with that. And, in a sense, you should be. Reading is a pleasure. Above all, on some level, you should read what you want.
For me, I never realized just how many awesome writers existed that I'd probably never have time to discover until I took it upon myself three years ago (or thereabouts) to put aside Dean and Steve King and cast the waters for new voices. What I found astonished me. Took me a little aback, all these writers who excelled at crafting stories with artful language, that I'd never heard of...and I'd considered myself a fairly well-informed guy.
Believe it or not, one of those authors turned out to be F. Paul Wilson, he of the Repairman Jack fame (and he's written tons of other awesome works, too). Before I met him at Borderlands Press' Writing Bootcamp, I'd sorta heard his name somewhere. Now, he's hands down one of my favorite authors.
Another guy I'd never heard of - also now one of my favorite authors - is Ron Malfi. I first saw his name in an interview with Shroud Magazine. Shamefully, I just turned the page with the thought - "Who's this guy?" But then I read his novel Snow, and was bitten with the Malfi-bug. A very original, extremely well-written story that didn't cater to the usual horror tropes. So I thought to myself, "Gotta find out more about this guy."
I tracked down one of his small press releases, Passenger...and was struck by it's almost casual brilliance. Thought to myself: "This guy isn't just a horror writer, but a full on literary writer, too." Then, I read his latest, Floating Staircase, and the hook was set. Simply one of the best things I've read in years. He's a stylist, a great storyteller, someone who's biggest priority is what it should be: the story and the writing itself.
I've gotten a chance to know Ron a little. He's shared a lot of great advice, been very friendly, and a little - no, a very large inspiration to me. If whatever I have I can call a "career" ends up I like Ron's someday, I don't think I could be happier.
Ron started a blog tour this past weekend. His first post landed at Literary Mayhem, about changing technology and writing characters. His second post is at the Horror Drive-In, and it really speaks to something that's become near and dear to my heart: writing what you love, what you MUST, regardless of market demands. An excellent, inspiring post.
Okay. Time for me to descend into my office and scratch my own words onto paper. But take the time to check out Ron's work, for what it's worth coming from me. He'll be the best writer you've probably never heard of.