UFI welcomes Margo Bond Collins Author of Waking Up Dead. Thanks for Joining us!!
Author’s Book Picks and What’s in My Library
Like most novelists, I am a voracious reader in my field, which means that I read all kinds of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction. But in addition to being an urban fantasy writer, I am a college English professor with a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature. This means that any time anyone wants to talk books, I have more than my share to say!
It also means that my personal library is eclectic, to say the least. I have shelves full of books from getting my degrees—fiction as well as literary criticism. I also write articles about television shows, so I have a number of academic books about popular culture, too!
In early British literature, I love the classics—but especially the stories with heroes and monsters: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Knight’s Tale. I love Shakespeare’s plays, but my favorites to teach are Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream because each is such a great example of its genre. Hamlet’s tragedy seems virtually unavoidable, and Midsummer’s comedy hits all the high (and low!) points.
In my own sub-specialty of eighteenth-century British literature, I love the early novels written by some of the first women to make a living writing in England, such as Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, and Delarivier Manley. Behn’s 1688 novel Oroonoko tells the story of a king who became a slave and found the woman he loved in the process, only to kill her and their unborn child to save them from slavery. In Haywood’s Fantomina (1724), a young noblewoman sets off on a sexual adventure full of disguises and intrigue. And in Manley’s The Wife’s Resentment (1720), a young woman takes revenge against her unfaithful husband with a gruesome murder. These early novels influenced later gothic tales, with virtuous damsels in distress and monstrous villains out to destroy them.
I think these various loves in more traditional literature—monsters, heroes, strong women, and gothic settings—are all parts of what have influenced my love of urban fantasy and horror. I love seeing many of the same tropes and ideas in more recent publications that influenced earlier works, as well.
So with that, here is a list of five of my favorite urban fantasy and horror reads, along with a few thoughts about each of them. Enjoy!
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. When I think of “urban fantasy,” I tend to think of vampires, werewolves, and the like. But Perdido Street Station epitomizes another kind of urban fantasy—also gritty, dark, and full of half-human creatures moving through a landscape that is alien and bizarre.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. What better setting for urban fantasy than the London Underground? When Richard Mayhew stops to help a young girl on the street, he is pulled into a world below and will never be the same. This was probably the first true “urban fantasy” novel I read a number of years ago—and wow! What an introduction!
Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I re-read this book about once every twelve to eighteen months. McKinley does a beautiful job of setting up a world that is almost, but not exactly, like our own. The eponymous protagonist almost seems to ramble sometimes, but the voice is perfectly her own and the things she reveals about herself are beautifully woven back into the plot. Also, the vampires are creepy as all get-out!
Nightlife (Cal Leandros #1) by Rob Thurman. What I love about this novel is the way in which the narrative shifts perspective in such a lovely and horrific manner. The story draws the reader into complicity with horrific evil. It’s a great move that left me breathless. In fact, for that same kind of twist, I would recommend Thurman’s Trick of the Light, too.
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. Okay. This isn’t really “urban fantasy.” But it is horror at its stomach-churning best. It left me with chills. It’s a smart read and, like Nightlife, makes the reader a part of the horror it induces. It’s a haunting vision of a house that can’t contain the horror within.
A few urban fantasy series faves, too (because I find I can’t ignore these!):
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
The Kate Daniels Magic series by Ilona Andrews
The Stray series by Rachel Vincent
Kitty the Werewolf series by Carrie Vaughn
The Spider’s Web series by Jennifer Estep
Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.
Find Margo and her books
Waking Up Dead
Callie Taylor #1
When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?