What makes a “good” story is highly subjective – if it has zombies, I’m not reading it, no matter what. Other people gobble up zombie tales and beg for more. Beyond genre preferences, there’s style – you might like slow and lyrical, I may prefer fast-paced-and-gritty. Readers aren’t a monolith, and even a single reader can enjoy a wide range of genres and styles (I read everything from middle grade to sexytimes to literary). A few master storytellers can rise above style and genre preferences and be broadly loved (although not universally – even JK Rowling has her detractors).
All of this is why indie stories are great – they can be just as polished as anything traditionally published, but they’re not constrained by what publishers think they can sell. They’re a freer form of fiction – and I don’t just say this as an indie author but as an indie reader. I love the short, innovative fiction I can get from indie authors. I love the longer rule-breaking novels that indie authors craft.
Below are just a few of the authors I’ve stumbled upon recently that you should watch (and read!) – they’re examples of the amazing things indies can do, and authors like these will shape storytelling in the future.
I’ve heard of Jason Gurley for some time, because of his beautiful covers and his association with Hugh Howey (Gurley’s bestselling Greatfall novel is a Wool fanfic). But his short story The Dark Age (in the Synchronic anthology) absolutely wrecked me (so brilliant and heart-wrenching) and turned me into a fan. Eleanor is his newest release, another literary time-travel tale, and I’ve preordered it… it releases June 27th!
I understand why (and agree with) Hugh Howey when he says, “Jason Gurley will be a household name one day.”
Why to watch him: Jason has the kind of deep literary talent that can really break out. I want to be there, watching, when it happens.
I also first read Ann Christy’s work in Synchronic (the perfect job of an anthology for readers – finding new authors to love). Her short story Rock or Shell was haunting in a Twilight Zone sense, and the kind of classic mind-bending SF I love. She’s a career naval officer who also wrote Wool fanfic (Silo 49) – Rock or Shell is her first (published) original fic, and I can’t wait for more original works from her. (I’m subscribed to her newsletter, so I’ll be the first to know when she puts something new out).
Why to watch her: Ann is a natural storyteller, with a fantastic sense of tension, and she’s just getting started with her stories. She’s going to go places with her work, and I want to see it happen.
I first encoutered SM Blooding on the Steampunk Bestseller lists, looking for fellow steampunkers to join my Steampunk With Heart group. Not only did her Asian-flavored steampunk novel sound intriguing, I couldn’t stop staring at that cover! I’ve just recently managed to start reading Fall of Sky City, and I’m galloping through it – it’s wildly inventive, sexy, and dangerous. She has a few other books out, and I’m sure I’ll be picking up Book 2 in the Devices of War series. I’ve subscribed to her newsletter to make sure I’m in the know for anything she writes.
Why to watch her: SM is fantastically inventive. Her stories are unique, taking advantage of the freedom that indie offers in the best possible way. I’m fascinated to see what else her mind cooks up!
Jessica has been on the blog before, but I just now have managed to start reading Saving Yesterday. It’s YA Time Travel, so I’m already hooked, but I’m really enjoying Jessica’s slightly-gritty-all-real YA heroine and the classic YA tale of adventure and romance sharpened by family loss and time-bending adventure. Saving Yesterday is Jessica’s first indie book, but she has a few prior romances out through Harlequin. I’ve subscribed to her newsletter, so I can see what she’s going to come up with next.
Why to watch her: This book feels like Jessica’s just starting to stretch her wings as a writer. It’s hard to describe, but some writers I get the sense that we’re only seeing the tip of what they’re going to produce. That we’re seeing them early in their journey, and they’re already making great stuff. Jessica’s already talked about how she’s bursting with ideas… now that she’s had a taste of the freedom of indie, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for her.
Indie freedom isn’t just about being free to publish… it’s about being free to create. And when you unleash people like that, amazing books like these are a result. Enjoy! And spread the word!