Monday, 19 November 2012

Guest Post by Author Ross M Kitson

Today I have another guest post from author Ross M Kitson. He has written a post called The Literary X-Factor which is an interesting read! Ross has recently released a new book called The Infinity Bridge and I will be reviewing this at a later stage so keep an eye out for that in the future.

So everyone give a warm welcome to Ross!

The Literary X-Factor

It’s a testament to the mind-numbing appeal of TV’s The X-factor that once more I have succumbed to its sinister charm. It begins subtly—the auditions are on in the background whilst my wife watches it and I tap away on the lap-top, or read my kindle. Then I start glancing at it—either for a terrible mockery of an audition, or a stunning surprise of a debut. Then it worms through my brain, week by week, until
I’m swearing at the TV like a mad cat-lady when my fave gets booted out.

It did occur to me, as I sat watching at the weekend, what it would be like to have a literary x-factor. To start with a collection of all the varied quality of books on, say, Amazon, and weedle them down. Perhaps a collection of middle-aged pop-stars, music gurus and down-with-the-kids urban divas could judge it, complete with ‘woot’-ing from the auditorium. And who would be in our finals for the live
shows? What is an x-factor for books?

It’s not as daft a question as it seems. There’s thousands of well constructed, enjoyable to read books out there, but there are very few that are true page turners. And that to me is the real x-factor in books—a novel which draws you in and won’t let go. You itch to get back to it, think about it when you’re away from it.

And it can be a communal thing, or it can be an individual thing. For me there have been several x-factor books in the last few years that I’ve read. I’m certain few will be on your own list—but its fun to compare and contrast. So here are my top four of recent years:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. The bitter sweet story of autistic Christopher and his investigation of finding a dead neighbours dog was one of the best books I’ve ever read. The alternation of insights into Christopher’s obsessive and skewed world, with the ongoing tragedy that unfolds, had me addicted to this book over the week it took me to read it. Even now it’s the one I recommend to people wanting a read that challenges them without being unreadable.

Northern Lights (Golden Compass in the US) by Philip Pullman. My brother had read this years before me and kept recommending it. When I buckled and started the trilogy I was drawn immediately into Pullman’s re-telling of Paradise Lost. Great imagination and fantastic characters in the first book, and I read it compulsively over a short period. The second and third books were good, but never really recreated the
sparkle of book one for me.

Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. After a hiatus from fantasy of almost a decade I decided to get back into the genre. A poke around t’internet brought up Martin, Hobb, Scott Lynch and Erikson as great places to start again. Each had there own strengths and merits, but it was Game of Thrones as a book that caught my attention. The series has lost some of its momentum now, but the first (and possibly second) book remain one of the classics of modern fantasy. The darkness and gritty realism never wear thin in this first book, and I’d quite honestly not read anything in fantasy quite like it. I found myself pondering the plot, the sub-plots and the shades of grey characters whilst I was at work and then rushing the kids to bed to get going on it again. And the unexpected head lopping of a main character—left me stunned when I
first read it.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. OK, so this is a cheat as I first read it when I was sixteen in the late Eighties (no rude comments, please). I must have re- read this more than any work... ever. What can I say? It changed everything in the comic field and, along with Maus and other seminal comics, set the bar for others to match. A beautifully intricate plot, with great sub-plots, that uses the medium so expertly it demands to be read again and again. The ideas of comics within comics, of alternate history, of adult superheroes, it’s all in there. Should be on everyone’s list of things to read before I pop my clogs!

I wish I could be cool and claim that my choices aren’t best sellers and loved by millions, and I could add another ten or so to this list, but it’ll be far more fun if you imagine yourself on the x-factor stage doing a reading from your own favourites and seeing if you can convince the cynical judges what it is about your books that makes them winners.

And for those of us that are writers we’ll keep on searching for that elusive spark that elevates something from really good, to a total page turner! 

Thank you Ross! Good luck with all your writing endeavors and I look forward to reading your novel.

The Infinity BridgeAuthor Bio from Goodreads:
I think that all authors are readers first and foremost. I've read since I can remember and since I can remember I have loved the escapism of fantasy and science fiction. This tendency was naturally propagated by the boom in sci-fi of the late Seventies and I became an unashamed fan-boy for Star Wars, Dr Who, Star Trek and BSG.

I read the Hobbit at age 10 and at the time got heavily into RPG and through this found a creative focus. I relished the design of worlds, of scenarios, of adventures, of stories. Yet it wasn't until my late Thirties, when I began reading for fun again, rather than study, that I decided to write.

The fruit of my labour is a two-thirds complete epic fantasy trilogy and a MG/YA sci-fi/Steampunk novel. The former is now on Amazon kindle and will be out soon in print. The latter is sat gathering dust on a publisher's desk in Cambridge...

When I wrote my novel I wanted to re-create some of the heroic fantasy that I loved as an adolescent. I wanted to create something that felt contemporary, exciting, adventurous, with quirky memorable characters and punchy dialogue. I think I've managed that and I also think I've created a detailed and interesting fantasy world to go with it.



  1. Can't wait to buy Infinity Bridge!

  2. Infinity Bridge is brilliant. Has to be said.


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