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#1421 - 05/18/06 11:37 PM You're the best!
Anonymous
Unregistered


I just wanted to send a short fan letter, I love your work.

Browsing the mystery section in the library one day, I came across "In-laws and Outlaws", the title caught my eye. And boy, did it blow me me away! You instantly shot up to the top of my fave list. What you do with characters and dialogue is simply fantastic. For the past year, I have been working on catching up with all your mystery novels and have loved them all. Thank you for all the fun!

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#1422 - 05/19/06 02:53 PM Re: You're the best!
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Well, Noo, you certainly know how to write a topic header! Thank you so much for the nice words; I'm glad you're enjoying the books. And I'm always happy to hear from a new reader -- well, relatively new, in your case, I guess. How do you feel about science fiction?

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#1423 - 05/19/06 05:33 PM Re: You're the best!
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi! You know, I wasn't sure if I went over the top with the title, but it reflected my emotions! I was on the web in search of your books for purchase, and was thinking about how fortunate I was to have just happened upon your work. It's hard to explain that joy of discovery to someone who isn't a fan of reading, but I'm sure that you can relate. I was thrilled to see that you had a website and this forum. You mean I can actually talk to her?

Mysteries are what made me fall in love with reading as a child, specifically in the short-story format, which I still love. I haven't delved into science fiction too much. As a youngster I tried some sci-fi, and it seemed like the characters were all good and all evil, or had motivations that didn't ring true. I preferred the dark, funny, complicated, and real characters I read in mysteries. But my early favorites were Jospehine Tey and Ruth Rendell, so that'd be hard for anybody to top! It could be I was just picking the wrong sci-fi books. There's plenty of mystery I don't care for, where the characters are one-note, but it's a pretty strong genre in general. And I think mystery writers have been turning out the best short stories for years.

I'm an Octavia Butler fan. Someone recommended her to me, specifically Kindred. Read it, loved it, and at this point I've read most of her novels and short stories. I have her last book, the vampire one, on my "To Do" shelf, so I'm looking forward to that. Her work seemed to be more like social commentary disguised as sci-fi, but I'm told a lot of sci-fi is like that.

I also love Fay Weldon, who isn't sci-fi, but some of what happens in her novels seems science fiction-y. I love the darkness of her characters!

So I delved into your site and saw that you write sci-fi, too! On eBay, I saw the romance books with your name and assumed that was a different Barb, and that's what I'd thought about the sci-fi too, but now I know better! I'll definitely check those out, I know that I love your writing style. Thanks again!

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#1424 - 05/19/06 11:09 PM Re: You're the best!
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Ah-ah! Careful! I've never written romance. I don't even read romance. An English romance writer used "Barbara Paul" as a pseudonym for a while, so those romance novels you've come across were all written by her.

Yes, Octavia Butler's writing is social commentary dressed up as SF. There was a rash of that kind of book starting, oh, 30 years ago or more. Butler's a good writer, but not all of the fiction in that subgenre has held up very well. I've not read her vampire book. Right now I'm reading the second book in a series with the collective title Tour of the Merrimack, by R. M. Meluch (the R stands for "Rebecca"). The first book is titled The Myriad and the one I'm reading now is Wolf Star -- rather mundane titles for books that are anything but mundane. Straight SF adventure, idiosyncratic characters, and an absolutely wicked sense of humor. These two books are welcome reminders of how much sheer fun SF can be.

But since mysteries are your first love, I hope you haven't missed Liza Cody's books.

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#1425 - 05/20/06 09:26 AM Re: You're the best!
Anonymous
Unregistered


May I butt in? I've never understood the appeal of Octavia Butler's work. Every time I tried to read her, I felt as if I was doing homework. I had to force myself to continue. Noo, what is it you like about her novels? I must be missing something.

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#1426 - 05/20/06 02:54 PM Re: You're the best!
Anonymous
Unregistered


I haven't read Liza Cody. Thanks for the recommendation! I will check her out on my next library run. The name sounded so familiar, I checked my shelf and it turns out I have a short story anthology she edited, 2nd Culprit. One of her stories is in there, I'm going to re-read that one. R. M. Meluch sounds good, you had me at "wicked sense of humor".

Do you all have any favorite short story anthologies? I think maybe to get my feet wet in sci-fi, I'd like to start in the short story format, figure out whose style I like. One anthology I really like is "Silver Scream", it's horror, but it's also got mystery and sci-fi flavors, which I guess most horror does. It's some powerful stories in there.

Octavia! I really like her writing style, her prose is tight and lean. I get lost in the story; she strikes me as a natural storyteller with the right instincts in flow and pacing. I like what she does with characters (particularly the female characters) and how she handles the complications and nuances of relationships. It was also exciting for me to read something from a Black woman's point of view. Like with the "chick lit" genre, there's a lot of weak writers out there selling books about the African-American experience. And then some of your strong writers (e.g., Alice Walker, Toni Morrison) are, well, deep - tackling heavy issues or have thick prose. Sometimes I just want a fun, engaging, and well-written read that doesn't leave me depressed. So I was probaly thirsty for someone like an Octavia. I don't think it's just Black women that can enjoy her, but perhaps women do make up most of her audience. And her work is social commentary, I imagine every body doesn't want that. Sometimes you just want a story!

So at this point, I probably haven't convinced you to give Octavia another shot! If you like short stories, maybe you could try some of those, she has a compilation called Blood Child. Her last novel, Fledgling, I haven't read, but it's about vampires. How bad could it be!

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#1427 - 05/21/06 12:33 PM Re: You're the best!
Anonymous
Unregistered


Noo -- sorry I didn't get back to you yesterday. We were all rather distraught about a horse named Barbaro.

You said "I get lost in the story" -- that's what I could never do. I always felt as if I was being instructed about something or other. But I haven't looked at her books in years; I might give Fledgling a try. Vampires? As you say, how bad could it be?

Barbara -- R. M. Meluch? That rings a bell. I think I read something by her with "Wind" in the title, but that was a long, long time ago. Same writer?

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#1428 - 05/22/06 05:36 PM Re: You're the best!
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Same writer. You read either Wind Dancers or Wind Child, both published in the 80s. I was just getting interested in her when she simply dropped out of sight, I don't know why. But now she's back, even better than before. She's developed an aesthetic distance in her writing that lets the reader laugh at the goings-on in the story. But it's always affectionate laughter, never mocking or hurtful.

I probably won't read Fledgling; vampires just aren't my thing. I wrote a couple of vampire short stories for Marty Greenberg anthologies, but they were both tongue-in-cheek.

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#1429 - 05/23/06 10:28 AM Re: You're the best!
Rita Offline


Registered: 09/22/04
Posts: 3264
Loc: St. Paul, MN
I read one of those -- "Totally Tallulah" is an absolute hoot. Here's this tall, dark, mysterious stranger nibbling at Tallulah's neck, but instead of her changing into a vampire, he starts becoming more like her. I just loved that.

Noo, are you still here? Hello.

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#1430 - 05/23/06 06:37 PM Re: You're the best!
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
I guess she's gone.

Rita, that story rose out of one of the problems I have with vampire lore. It never seemed reasonable to me that sucking the blood of a fair young maiden would turn her into a vampire. Now, if she had ingested some vampire blood, we could pretend that was what caused her transformation. But blood flowing from her to him? Nah.

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