It is not clear to me if visitors to my little corner of the blogosphere have picked up on the themes here at Potato Chip Math but here they are:
- Views into a (new) writer’s world
- Creativity & Inspiration (how people find it, what forms it takes, how to recognize it, what to do when you, the importance of it, etc)
- Self-Improvement / Growth / Mental & Physical Health
I tend to write a lot about being a writer on this blog. It makes sense given it’s a profession that I have been working towards for some time now. However, one of the aspects of being a writer, and the art of writing in general, is that you also have to be a reader. This is one area in which I will always need improvement but it is also one in which I will take great pleasure in improving.
There are literally millions of books published year-over-year though, so how does a person even begin to choose? For me, the preference is given to people I know personally who have written books. I know what goes into bringing a novel into the world and it’s the absolute least I can do to buy one from a peer and give it a read. In doing this, I have found that my interests have shifted from some the big names I used to read to some other authors who have books or series that I find much less formulaic and mass produced.
Why is this? Well to put it simply, the stories are better.
I would encourage every reader out there to ask a writer, or a friend, or a librarian, or someone who works at a bookstore (even a big chain bookstore), or a teacher, or even that person in the coffee shop or on the bus/subway/streetcar/train reading a book you’ve never heard of for a recommendation. Some of them won’t work out, but that’s okay. Not every book is suitable for everyone. But I guarantee you that you’ll find some gems that years from now you’ll be wondering why more people don’t know about them.
With this in mind, I am going to start a new feature here at Potato Chip Math I have aptly named Have You Read Any…
The idea is simple. Every now and then I will profile an author from whom I have read at least one book that I particularly enjoyed. Sometimes I will know the writer personally, sometimes not, but in every case, it will be someone who isn’t currently a “big name” author (e.g. you won’t find me endorsing Stephen King, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, and the like).
Without further ado, I present the pilot episode of Have You Read Any…
Have You Read Any A.J. Aalto?
A.J. Aalto is a biologist, a student of criminal psychology & behaviour, an axe-throwing belly dancer, a poor Sudoku puzzler, a badge bunny, a PVP gamer, and a goofball. When not studying murder or writing dick jokes, you can find her singing Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at life. AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar and has been known to swallow her gum.
In addition to all the aforementioned characteristics, she is the author of one of my favourite series, The Marnie Baranuik Files.
Marnie is a rare dual-talented psychic with a doctorate in preternatural biology and a working knowledge of the dark arts. Her first big FBI case ended with a bullet in one shoulder and a chip on the other, a queasy heart, and a serial killer in the wind, leaving her a public flop and a private wreck. When the FBI’s preternatural crimes unit tracks her down at her remote mountain lodge for her insight on a local case, she isn’t particularly eager to stick her neck out again, but her quiet retirement is promptly besieged by a stab-happy starlet, a rampaging ghoul, and a vampire hunting jackass in tight Wranglers. Follow Marnie, Lord Guy Harrick “Harry” Dreppenstedt, Kill Notch, and a host of other characters as they battle ghouls, goblins, ogres, orcs, revenants, zombies, and more.
In order, here are the links:
There are also shorts that tie into but can be read independently from, the series that A.J. calls Marnie Baranuik Between the Files stories.
- Deadhead (between Touched and Death Rejoices)
- Dirt Nap (between Death Rejoices and Last Impressions)
- Cold Company (between Last Impressions and Wrath & Bones)
- Stiff Competition (between Wrath & Bones and Blightmare)
But that’s not all! Yes, that’s right, there’s more!
One of the principal characters in the Marnie books, Lord Guy Harrick “Harry” Dreppenstedt, a 400-year-old revenant with a propensity for fancy Olde English and some serious skills in the kitchen, has a cookbook.
- Serving One’s Guests at Shaw’s Fist: A Gentleman’s Secrets (also a crash course on the possessive apostrophe)
Finally, A.J. has written one of hopefully many more non-Marnie books. Closet Full of Bones is a gripping psychological thriller that is next up on my reading list.
A.J. creates complex characters that invoke strong feelings in the reader as they weave their way through clever plot lines and a world built with intricate detail. My fifteen-year-old daughter is absolutely hooked on the Marnie books as much as I am and I suggest picking up a copy of Touched and beginning your journey toward Baranuik addiction as soon as you can.
Are you a writer that wants to be featured on Have You Read Any… Are you a reader with a favourite author you’d like to see featured? Place the book or author link in the comments or send me an email (potatochipmath [at] gmail [dot] com) and I’ll put them on the list of books to pick up and read.
Please note that it is not necessary to provide me free copies of any books in exchange for a Have You Read Any… feature. I prefer printed books anyway so I’ll buy them like everyone else. Regardless of whether or not the author gets a spot on my blog, if they aren’t published with Oghma Creative Media I will be sure to leave a review.