Monday, June 6, 2016

Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks was born in Ipswich, Suffolk and moved to Nottingham when he was 18 to go to university. He’s stayed there ever since, and now lives with his wife, two cats, two snakes and a collection of tropical fish. He is the author of the Keiko novels, sci-fi adventures that follow the escapades of those crewing the spaceship of the same name; Dark Run, the first book in the series, is now available in the US.

When not writing, Brooks works for a homelessness charity, plays guitar and sings in a punk band, watches football (soccer), MMA and nature/science documentaries, goes walking in the Peak District or other areas of splendid scenery, and DJs wherever anyone will tolerate him.

Recently I asked Brooks about what he was reading. His reply:
Back in the day, I'd pick up a book and barely do anything until it was finished. These days that doesn't tend to be the case so much, not because I read slower but because I make sure to schedule in time for my own writing, as well as other activities like band practices (which can't be put off easily just because I've just got to a super-interesting bit). So now, my reading tends to come in fits and starts.

It's not been that long since I've finished The Silver Tide by Jen Williams, the final book of her Copper Cat trilogy. It doesn't sound like a massively original concept, focusing as the series does on three somewhat mismatched characters of varying morality (who can be easily described as a warrior, a thief and a mage) who keep ending up having to save the world. It should read like a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, but the detail and background of the world makes it special, as well as the lovingly-crafted characters. Everyone feels real, even the bit-part players, and I also liked how the knight Sebastian's sexuality was handled openly and matter-of-factly. The Silver Tide builds on the groundwork of the first two novels The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost and lets rip with a larger cast and higher stakes, and even takes one of my most-hated tropes (time travel) and manages to make it not suck!

I've also recently read Burned by Benedict Jacka, the latest in his urban fantasy series based around the misadventures of Alex Verus, a mage who can see the future (to a certain extent). It's a good novel and I read it fast: my only real criticism would be that the debt the series owes to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files really looms large in this instalment, with several major themes seeming to be closely mirrored. That's not so much of a problem, as I'm a big fan of the Dresden Files, but some of Burned felt a bit too familiar.

Most recently I finished City Of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, and I'm now approaching the end of City Of Blades, the sequel. I suppose you might describe them as second-world urban fantasy spy thrillers, and they're just as convoluted, messy and enjoyable as that description makes them sound. As well as engaging, three-dimensional characters and excellently mysterious plotlines, Bennett's writing looks at real-life issues like destruction of culture and how states deal with supposedly-defeated enemies (and resulting insurgents), as well as some musing on the nature of the divine and perceived divine. If you placed a Len Deighton thriller into an alternate-world Germany post-WWII or Iraq post-GWII and added magic, you might get something like these books.

Ready to go when that's finished, I have Palace Of Glass by Django Wexler. Django's first three Shadow Campaigns novels were released by my UK publisher Del Rey UK, which is how I started reading him: they're superb flintlock fantasy and I can't recommend them enough. However, Palace Of Glass is from his Forbidden Library children's series. While inevitably shorter and simpler these books are still well worth the read even for adults, since the plotting, characters and intrigue are just as strong and thoroughly enjoyable. They also have sarcastic talking cats, which is pretty much a surefire winner where I'm concerned!
Visit the official Mike Brooks website.

My Book, The Movie: Dark Run.

The Page 69 Test: Dark Run.

--Marshal Zeringue