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A little about Isaac & a Top 10 List

I want to talk about my protagonist here. I like Isaac Thomas a great deal and I am eager to see where his journey takes him. I am not entirely sure myself quite yet; his journey is a dark one but also a human one and while the personal tragedies are not done, I feel like he might end up in a better place than he begins. I also want to put my definitive (as of today) Top Ten novels list. These are the novels that have inlfuenced me the most. Another day I will do a Top Ten favorites.

Thomas, Isaac. Lieutenant CTMF

Isaac was always the main character in THE FACELESS. He was always African though he lives in a cosmopolitan universe and will feel very American at times. I feel I have to work on that a bit, to make subtle changes to show the diversity in culture. A lot like painting a miniature, you begin with colors and palettes you feel comfortable with and then make changes as you progress until finally you have a unique character.

As a white writer I am very cognizant of the diversity in my writing. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing characters who like or think in ways similar to me, but that is not as much a challenge as reaching into another mindset. It forces you, if you do so honestly, to really think about your character and put yourself in their head and stay there. As with skin color so also with nationality and politics. Isaac isn't much of a political animal as others might be. Certainly not as much as I am. He is Inigo Montoya with an eye on revenge and nothing else. Isaac is not a bad friend, but his focus is not what it could have been had he not faced such tragedy.

I am definitely rooting for Isaac to come out on top, but I also understand that the story has to matter and I need to show fidelity to it. So plot and character both have to be served. Regardless I am still rooting for Isaac.

My Top Ten Influential Novels (Influential on me)

So these are the novels I feel have had the most influence on me as a writer. They are in no particular order. Beside each one may be some notes as to WHY it is so influential.

The Stand (Stephen King) - As popular as it is, I feel that The Stand is an underrated masterpiece. I learned a great deal about characterization from this novel.

Starship Troopers (Robert A. Heinlein) - Controversial for some, it has always been a book I go back to whenever I can. I first read it while I worked as a civilian contractor at he US Naval Academy.

Red Storm Rising (Tom Clancy) - Red Storm Rising is, IMHO Clancy's best book. I also feel it stands head and shoulders above the modern and post modern books on war (think 1981 on). Yes the story is very "Merica" but it shows a level of depth of character that you often do not see. Except maybe the KGB agents who are kind of stock.

The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) - This book has been a huge influence on me, for how NOT to write a novel. Its terrible. I mean utterly terrible. Everything about it is poorly done, except the actual writing which is good. The characters, the plot, the pacing, the everything else rank very low for me. Why its taught in schools as a classic, I will never know. This is one I refuse to agree to disagree on; if you like this book you are the reason we can't have nice things.

The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane) - This is the book that actually pushed me into wanting to be a writer. I won't say its perfect, but then that could be a matter of style. An enjoyable read and a good war story.

The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi') - I cannot say enough things about this book. Its dense and its beautiful like a complex lover who in the end, leaves you for the next adventure. Yet she (or he) leaves you better than when they found you.

Crusade (David Weber & Steve White) - These gentlemen managed to write a compelling novel based on the universe of a game that only space nerds play. The entire Starfire series is more fantastic than game fiction honestly has a right to be, but Crusade is what made me care about it.

My Enemy, My Ally (Diane Duane) - Its not my favorite Star Trek novel. That would probably be The Entropy Effect or The Devil's Heart. My Enemy, My Ally though is complex and it takes risks adding in lore and new characters and making them stick in a way even the original series didn't.

The Black Company (Glen Cook) - Raw fucking writing. This is what playing a good campaign of Runequest (1st - 3rd editions) or Stormbringer (my apologies to Mr. Moorcock. I know you had issues with Chaosium but the games still rock.) Gritty and dirty fantasy that puts you there. Also, is anyone a good guy? I love the moral ambiquity.

Dune (Frank Herbert) - Dune is not lessened by its sequels, but if there had never been any sequels it would still be a classic to this day. Its just damned good and damned well done.

So there you have it. My definitive top 10 most influentual on me novels. I admit its light on female authors and authors of color. So this list may well change as I read more and more books. It is a great time to be a reader and a writer.

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