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By John Reese, May 14 2019 02:49PM

A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing. The suspension of disbelief comes easy to them. As we get older we think in terms of our willingness to suspend our critical faculties and believe something surreal whilst sacrificing realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. In short, we tend to over think things and for authors writing for an older audience this brings its own challenges but it doesn’t mean children aren’t discerning readers. In fact, given the breadth of their imaginations, they often prove more challenging to write for with any modicum of success. Not simply because young readers thrive on well-crafted novels that tap into their sense of fun, curiosity and passion for new ideas. There’s the inescapable fact that with each generation, children change and that ethereal line between the child an author once was and the children they come to write for in their later years often leaves them out of step with what young readers really want to read. Search the internet for advice on writing for children or younger readers and you’ll be inundated with it. You could write a list of pointers as long as your arm. The trick is to not over think it and never forget who you are writing for. There really is no substitute for an original story that is well told but children's authors intent on growing an enthusiastic following would do well to keep the next two tips in mind as they really are the foundations of success when writing for younger readers.


1 It may sound like a cliché but you really do need to immerse yourself in the genre in which you are writing. You need to read the bestsellers. Past and present. Mammoth titles like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Yes, they have different themes but they are superb examples of authors who have really understood the rhythms and patterns that youngsters adopt when they interact with each other and the world around them.


2 The second tip is to write it your way. Assuming that a book is well-written originality always stands out and more so when writing for younger readers. Remember what we said about that ethereal line between the child an author once was and the children they come to write for. Remember how you liked to be surprised? Successful children's authors let their inner child shine through. Publishers and editors pick up on it straight away. It's hard to distil into words but there is a certain kind of magic that opens up when an author stops agonizing over their words and simply writes. Above all enjoy it!


One author who has done just that is Derek Corney with his debut release Fighting For The Blue Planet. You can read our full review HERE The problem with many novels for young readers is they come across as rather two dimensional when compared to their onscreen counterparts but this certainly isn’t the case here!




If you are currently in the process of writing a abook for young readers or about to pen your opening chapter your thoughts are always welcome and as always we hope our latest post has created a spark of reflection.


By John Reese, May 13 2019 01:28PM

Novels like Coma by Robin Cook, The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton and Life Support, by Tess Gerritsen have made a major contribution to our continued fascination with medical thrillers. It’s not an easy sub-genre to successfully write in. An author needs to be well informed and prepared to do extensive research whilst the overarching thriller genre suffers from an avalanche of formulaic writing.


In some ways, thrillers are a balancing act. Readers want plenty of forward momentum and action but they’re overwhelmingly drawn to humankind's propensity for deceit coupled with our inherent need to see good prevail. These are ironclad conventions which have stood the test of literary time but medical thrillers and medical crime or conspiracy thrillers take us that little bit further. Cerebral and suspenseful the good ones elicit heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety but they are unique in that they often have an unknown element which can’t be quantified. Whether it’s technology, some rare bacteria or manufactured infectious disease, we hope our fearless protagonist will win the day but something without a conscience doesn’t conform to our expectations and this is where bestselling authors work their particular kind of magic.


For new writers wanting to combine medical writing with the thriller genre the authors at the top of their game are daunting competition. Many come from a medical background but there is a way of levelling the playing field. Medical thrillers and medical crime or conspiracy thrillers tap into our fear of illness. Whilst a full-on international espionage thriller might feel dispersed and intangible because it’s outside our sphere of experience illness is something that touches us all. We expect to be treated but the fear that we can’t leaves us contemplating our own mortality. Extensive research can make up for a shortfall in an authors medical knowledge but there is no substitute for writing that emphasises our shared fears and humanity. One author who has done just this is Sam Carter with his debut novel Dying To Live. You can find our review HERE.




Following in the footsteps of greats like Robin Cook, Michael Palmer and Carol Cassella he has certainly done his homework and new authors venturing into the genre would do well to follow suit. If you are currently in the process of writing a medical thriller or about to pen your opening chapter your thoughts are always welcome and as always we hope our latest post has created a spark of reflection.




By John Reese, May 12 2019 02:10PM

In the genre of speculative fiction Alternate History is proving ever more popular with alternative perspectives on crucial points in history making for some highly entertaining reads. Novels like Manifest Destiny: Lincoln Sneezed by Brian Boyington where Lincoln survives John Wilkes Booth's assassination attempt have helped fuel the interest of readers around the world but for emerging and debuting authors drawn to the genre it’s important to do their research.


There is no doubt about it, alternative history is a sub-genre that continues to evolve. We have seen it merge with the much-loved tropes of science fiction to embrace time travel and alternative universes but there are a growing number of purists amongst today's readers who lean towards subtler approaches. Indeed, keeping an alternative version of events close to the facts can make for a far more authentic read as readers invariably have enough foreknowledge to appreciate the subtleties of a different perspective.




A fine example of this is Renaissance - The Fall and Rise of a King, the debut novel for Marla Skidmore. Fans of the Alternative History sub-genre tend to be well informed on historical and political events and introducing a differing perspective on such a notorious character as Richard III is no mean feat. Focusing on poignant events she builds an upsurge of difference that paints an altogether more sympathetic perspective on the much maligned monarch which not only entertains but encourages the reader to reflect on the accuracies of history as it is recorded. Our review for Renaissance - The Fall and Rise of a King can be found HERE but has alternative historical fiction got a wider role than simply telling a story?


History is invariably written by the victors. Great swathes of events are often ignored and in today's society we are swamped by fake news. Can generations to come look back and take the truth for granted? Yes, alternative historical fiction more often than not stretches the realms of possibilities but at it subtlest, it challenges widely help views with a convincing degree of plausibility and it’s this that nudges the genre of alternate history ever closer to mainstream legitimacy.


By John Reese, Apr 19 2019 09:27AM


Magic, fantasy and romance continue to prove an irresistible mix for an army of readers the world over. Of course, novels like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Time's Echo by Pamela Hartshorne and The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz fan the genres enduring appeal but with so many ‘read alike’ titles reaching the shelves it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.


Needless to say that readers are becoming ever more discerning and know exactly what they want from a novel that singes the fingertips whilst transporting them through the annals of time. Not only do they want sizzling romance, great characters and a striking visual backdrop, they’re increasingly demanding the same level of detail and accuracy we have come to expect from historical fiction too.


Unfortunately, the genre is plagued with pitfalls that inexperienced authors often fall foul of but there are two in particular that lead many readers to abandon their latest read and they more often than not can be found in romance that revolves around time travel and the subject of Déjà vu.


Meticulous research is essential if an author is to capture that all important sense of authenticity and far too many fall short of genre expectations. And then there’s the all important plot with writing across disparate time lines bringing its own particular challenges. The most notable of which is ensuring the tension doesn’t wane between those settings in the modern and older world that protagonists find themselves inhabiting.




There are of course a number of household names like Diana Gabaldon who have it down to a fine art but there are some exciting new debut authors too who have done their homework and one of them is Samyann with her exciting Déjà vu novel Yesterday. You can read our review by clicking on the link here.


As always we like to keep our blog posts short and to the point and the team at BookViral welcome your comments and any recommendations you would like to add.




By John Reese, Apr 12 2019 05:08PM



The imaginary worlds and characters of fantasy fiction continue to enthral readers around the world with no shortage of new titles being released but quantity has rarely been synonymous with quality and the truly great novels are few and far between. Who hasn’t heard of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis? And then there are other luminaries like Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb and Brandon Sanderson but whilst you might think of a few more names to add to a very distinguished list they are but the tip of a very big iceberg with most Fantasy Fiction novels never selling more than a paltry handful of copies whilst their authors sink into the quagmire of obscurity.


Now great writing and an eye-catching cover will only take a Fantasy Fiction author so far. Social media and a wad of luck are certainly in the mix but to be in with a chance of making the bestseller charts a novel needs to have something that sets it apart from its peers. That gets its readers singing its praises and spreading the word that it's an absolute must read! Trawl the web and you will find a vast number of blog posts dedicated to writing Fantasy Fiction but what do readers really want and expect from a great fantasy fiction read? We recently polled over 1000 of our readers and four things rose to the top again and again. There’s no need to gild the lily, these are the things that make the gems of Fantasy Fiction so very special and here they are.


1 Originality! Harry Potter became a global phenomenon and suddenly there are enough novels about boy wizards to pave a path to the moon. Derivative trope ridden fantasy fiction is so cliché and readers soon toss it aside in their hunt for something special.


2 World building! Great fantasy fiction is all about escapism. Readers want to be drawn into a setting that immerses them in a different time and place. They want to see the authors world, to have it materialize in their mind's eye and to imagine what it would like to be there. Sub-par world building is a sure fire way to get readers dissing a novel.


3 An authentic system of magic! Who doesn’t wish they could perform even the tiniest feat of magic? Just a little something out of the ordinary. For the most part, readers are enamoured with fantasy fiction because they want to believe that magic is possible but they quickly see through and turn off to poorly conceptualised systems of magic. Readers of fantasy fiction have an inherent need to believe!


4 Amazing characters! If in doubt look to the ensemble of brilliant characters in GOT. Fantasy fiction readers need to become fully invested in the characters they read about. You might point out that it’s the same for other genres and you would be absolutely right but here’s the thing. Great characters cannot be fully crafted from ‘how to’ books on fiction. They take on a life of their own as an author writes. They are sculpted, refined and somewhere along the way a little bit of literary magic takes place. Readers, especially fantasy fiction readers know great characters when they read about them and poorly development lacklustre characters will be abandoned long before the last page of a novel.


So there you have it. The overwhelming views of over a thousand Fantasy Fiction readers. Just four things that when done right make fantasy fiction the ever-popular genre it is. We‘ve reviewed the best and sadly some of the worst but a debut author you might want to check out is Michael Ross. We recently reviewed his debut release in The Wand Chronicles series and we think you will like it. You can read our full review by clicking HERE.




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