Saturday, October 20, 2018

D. B. Jackson

D.B. Jackson is the pen name of fantasy author David B. Coe. He is the award-winning author of twenty novels and as many short stories. His newest novel, Time’s Children, is the first volume in a time travel/epic fantasy series called The Islevale Cycle. The book has just been released by Angry Robot Books. The second volume, Time’s Demon, will be released in May 2019.

As D.B. Jackson, he also writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. As David B. Coe, he is the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he has recently reissued, as well as the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood, and, most recently, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy.

He is also currently working on a tie-in project with the History Channel. Coe has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University. His books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He and his family live on the Cumberland Plateau. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Recently I asked Coe about what he was reading. His reply:
My list of recent reads is a little bit odd, and at the same time rather typical for someone in my profession. Writers read for so many different reasons that we often wind up jumping among a fairly eclectic selection of books, articles, and stories.

This summer, I taught at a writing workshop, and spent much of the week talking with fellow instructors about books, craft, etc. During that time I realized that there were (and still are) some holes in my reading history that needed filling. Upon returning from the conference, I immediately dove into Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which was incredibly powerful. Such gorgeous prose and complex, nuanced storytelling. It should be required reading for any survey of American literature.

I then read through part of Flannery O'Connor: The Complete Stories, which was also deeply affecting (I have every intention of going back to it, but have had other things to read as well). Stylistically she is a very different writer from Morrison, and yet there are parallels between their works, in the subject matter as well as in the frankness with which they approach issues of Southern life, race, class, and gender.

And I am currently reading Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, another title mentioned in conversations at the workshop. To be honest, I’m not sure what I think of this one. I know he was a genius, and I can appreciate the ambition of this work in particular. But right now I’m having a hard time getting past the heavy-handedness of his writing and narrative. Jury’s out on this one. That probably marks me as a philistine, but so be it.

Okay, that’s one set of readings. I have also just finished re-reading the first three Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore. I read these for a piece I recently published at – a continuation of my semi-regular column, “Books and Craft.” Le Guin is one of my favorite writers, and these books were particularly important to me early in my life. The “Books and Craft” articles focus on the writing elements of classic genre books that contribute to their greatness, and I wanted to write about these novels because the world I created for my new series, which consists of islands, seas, and archipelagos, is an homage to Earthsea.

And finally, I’m a subscriber to The New Yorker, and I try hard to keep up with my subscription – no small feat given how rich each issue can be. I have recently read articles about politics, business innovation, and cultural trends, about the secret lives of termites, about Mark Zuckerberg, and about the history of Christian Rock. I’ve read fiction and music reviews and book critiques and some laugh-out-loud humorous pieces. The New Yorker features some of the best investigative journalism being done anywhere. It always has at least one piece of original short fiction. And the cartoons are amazing. My mom, who died long ago, was a huge fan and in some small way I feel that reading the magazine keeps me connected to her.

And there it is. As I said, it’s an eclectic mix, and I think that variety helps my writing. I normally read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and I’m certain I’ll return to those titles soon. The important thing for me is to keep my mind moving in new directions, so I’ll continue to read as widely as I can.
Visit D. B. Jackson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.

--Marshal Zeringue