Special Holiday Season Promotion and 2016 recap

Hi all - well, what a year huh? I can't say that 2016 was a particularly good year on a global scale, as I'm sure most of you would agree. In fact the mounting evidence that the West is in a state of decline seems to be more evident now than ever before with world events taking some sad and bizarre twists. Despite all the doom and gloom and the changing face of international politics and global relationships, 2016 was, if not anything else, scarily interesting to say the least. The silver lining is that events certainly provided lots of fodder for potential stories. 

My own year has been very busy, with the re-release of a few titles and the inclusion of a few stories in various anthologies. As a result of expired contracts and rights reversion, I am nearly pure 'indie' with most of my books now finding a home under my publishing imprint, King Billy Publications. 

https://kingbillypublications.wordpress.com/
Book sales have been steady and, all going well, I should be on track to be able make a full-time living as an author in 2018 - thanks largely to you, dear reader. Next year will see the arrival of lots of new titles including a range of children's books that I have been working on with my talented 8-year-old daughter, Sienna. I am very excited about entering this market as it has always been a goal of mine to write books that appeal to kids, much as the books I read when I was of a similar age appealed to me. Such a magical reading age.

Anyway, the silly season is upon us and I have priced ALL my kindle titles to a low price of $0.99. Hopefully there is something there that you haven't read. Maybe you'd like to consider buying a paperback copy of one of my titles for someone this Christmas? If so, my top pick would have to be Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror - with over 450 pages of solid horror from established masters and rising stars of the horror genre. All my paperback titles are also priced at the minimum over the holiday period. Just click on the book cover images below to go to the Amazon page to purchase.

https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Fear-Anthology-Macabre-Horror/dp/153486427X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Free Fiction! Dead Memories - a short story

https://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/halloween-horror-free-read-2016-best-horror-stories-on-the-internet/

This story recently won 'Runner-Up' in the Parlor of Horror's 2016 short fiction awards and is also part of my collection 'Dreams of Thanatos' - now available to all new subscribers for free - click on the image at the end of this post to download your copy.

Dead Memories

1.

I had a dream on the anniversary of her death. In the dream, I heard her unmistakable voice calling me, then I saw her and she was so real, I could almost touch her again. Everything about her hit me deep in the chest, I sat bolt upright in our big empty bed. My breath gasped, sweat beaded itself on my cold skin. I could still hear her voice in the dark. I rationalized there were only two possible reasons why I could hear such a thing. I was either hallucinating, or what I heard was her ghost whispering in my ear. Then she was gone again.

Guest Author Interview: Mort Castle




Mort Castle is a veteran of American genre-fiction. Mr Castle is a respected horror author, editor and writing teacher, a prolific short fiction author and a novelist. Among other awards that he has won he is a three-time winner of (and nominated eleven times for) the Bram Stoker Award. Today I present to you a great interview with Mr Castle and it is truly an honour as a fan – my favorite works of his are the collection ‘Moon on the Water’ and his novel ‘The Strangers.’ As his bibliography testifies I have a lot of reading of Mr Castle’s work still in front of me (rubs hands with glee). Please make sure to check out his books and grab some copies off Amazon - you won't be disappointed if you are new to Mr Castle's work (just click on the book cover images below). Here is he, the horror maestro himself, Mr Mort Castle:

Q: How have you managed to maintain your literary career for as long as you have? Do you have any tips for other writers starting off on their careers in terms of long-term strategies to maintain a career as an author?

A: Oh, man, it's perseverance. You don't give up, period. There were some very bleak times, times of serious "career reversals," when I wished I could just pack it in. Was supposed to be editor of Horror, The Illustrated Book of Fears, which would be the country's largest circulation B&W comics horror magazine; that fell through at the last minute when the distributor reneged, saying he had had a moral revelation and was convinced the magazine would encourage mental illness and criminal behavior. Had movies come close and never happen. Book contracts blow up at last minute. Markets disappearing (go take a look at today's convenience stores for the behind the counter men's magazines that used to pay my mortgage!)

Guest Author Interview: Brian Evenson


Today it is my distinct pleasure to bring you this recent interview I did with the talented author, Brian Evenson. I recently read his early collection Fugue State and thought it a fantastic book. Here’s my review, which doesn’t really do it justice – I encourage you to read this and any of Brian’s other superb books (click on the book cover images below to be taken direct to the Amazon book page):

“Brian Evenson's Fugue State is a very surrealistic, slip-stream kind of collection soaked with dark themes and nightmarish allegories that make the reader think! A bit of a rarity these days. I especially liked the way the stories encouraged a second reading. Stand-outs for me were 'In the Greenhouse', 'Life Without Father', 'Fugue State' and 'The Adjudicator.' Will definitely be reading more from this fine author.”

https://www.amazon.com/Fugue-State-Brian-Evenson/dp/1566892252/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Without further ado, here is my interview with Brian.


BRIAN EVENSON is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press, 2016) and the novella The Warren (Tor.com, 2016). His collection Windeye (Coffee House Press 2012) and novel Immobility (Tor 2012) were both finalists for a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the American Library Association's award for Best Horror Novel of 2009. The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press, 2006) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection), Dark Property, and Altmann's Tongue.  He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes as well as an NEA fellowship. His work has been translated into French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Slovenian. He lives and works in California, and teaches at CalArts.


Q: You have recently been in Transylvania teaching at the Horror Writer’s Workshop, did you get an opportunity to explore the countryside and were you inspired by your experience?

A: We did.  The Horror Writer’s Workshop was held just outside of the town that houses Bran Castle, the basis for Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, so I spent some time there, also explored some of the nearby towns and medieval villages and fortresses, places like Sighisoara and Brasov, took my son to a decaying Communist playground complete with scary cartoon figures, passed through a gypsy village in which on a Sunday morning everyone was carrying a broom, spent time in the forest, etc.  It’s an amazing place, and it reminded me a lot of what parts of Europe used to be like 30 or 35 years ago, back when I visited as a kid.  I do think I got a lot out of it and that it’ll figure in my writing in various ways.

News and special discounted books promotion

Hi Folks

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts lately - some of you may know that I recently began my Masters in English Lit. program and it is proving to be the inevitable time-guzzler that I thought it would be! So, less fiction, more academic writing . . . Grrrrrr. Despite the time consuming factor, I am learning a lot as I go and it's valuable information which will hopefully benefit my writing. The topic of my thesis is: American Postmodern Serial Killer Fiction, and I'm analyzing the following select works - Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, James Ellroy’s Killer on the Road, Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, Poppy Z. Brite’s Exquisite Corpse and Joyce Carol Oates’s Zombie. Here's a slice of the intro - as you will notice, the style is not my usual pared-down prose. Bear in mind that this is the first draft, but you get the idea:

"The vast body of published texts, which constitute the genre of serial killer fiction, reveal common narrative technique and tropes that signal a prevalence of clichéd formulaic novels representing the majority of works within this genre. However, amongst this stylistic and thematic majority, works exist that extend the boundaries of serial killer fiction through the import of different genre concerns and attributes. This thesis considers the impact and importance of these works and how they have influenced the stylistic and thematic direction of the genre as a whole. Focussing on twentieth century American post-war serial killer fiction, this study examines select works to exemplify aspects of the narratives that directly, or indirectly, transform, challenge and critique the genre conventions in which they are written. Of primary concern is the charting of the trajectory of the genre as a postmodern phenomenon, the evolution and expansion of the genre in terms of its popularity with the reading public in line with the growth of media interest in factual representations of serial killers, and the growing interest in the genre and its possibilities by those authors who usually write outside of it."

Right, now my excuse is out of the way we can get down to the good stuff. I have recently discounted a few of my titles so I thought I'd share it with you here before the price goes up again. Here are the bargains:



Discounted to only $0.99 for a limited time - grab your copy now! (U.S & U.K. links below) - Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales. (250 pgs)

Supernatural demons, murderers and ghosts roam these pages although the most horrifying aspect Cook describes, is the dark soul of humanity. Whether writing about the psychological horrors of modern life, or things that go ‘bump in the night,’ Cook’s writing is always “intense” and often “visceral” in his portrayal of the macabre. Included in this collection of fifteen stories is a novelette (Dead and Buried) and the origin story (Legacy: The Eternal Now and Thereafter) behind the novel, Blood Related.

Recommended for adult readers only. Contains scenes of psychological and supernatural horror


This book is also available FREE to all new subscribers of this website - if you are not already subscribed, why not grab a free copy here instead?

The second discounted title is the popular collection I edited, Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror. I have reduced the price and the kindle version is $2.99 for a limited time. 


https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Fear-Anthology-Macabre-Horror-ebook/dp/B01HYASBBI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8#nav-subnav

New Release: Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror - available now!


It is with great pleasure that I can finally announce the release of Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror (2nd edition). This new edition has a new lay-out, formatting and a cover featuring the amazing photography of renowned French photographer, Louis Blanc (http://loublancphotos.com/). Formatting and interior work done by the talented Cyrus Wraith Walker from Cyrusfiction Productions.

FRESH FEAR: An Anthology of Macabre Horror* is a collection of horror from some of the genre's best writers of dark fiction. In the introduction, a selection from W.J. Renehan's The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction, we are reminded that, "Horror serves to reconnect us with our primal selves, provides temporary respite from the droning conditions of modern life."

With over 450 pages, Fresh Fear is packed with stories written by both masters and up-and-coming maestros of the horror genre. Tales steeped in psychological horror sit alongside visions of strange worlds and fantastical landscapes drenched in blood. 'Quiet horror' sits comfortably next to more visceral portrayals of the monsters that lurk deep within the human heart. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famously once said, "where there is no imagination there is no horror" - the horror expressed by the authors in Fresh Fear show that imagination is indeed tantamount to excellent story-telling.

Prepare yourself for 28 tales of fear-inducing horror from some of today's best authors of dark fiction.


Authors/Stories 

Scathe meic Beorh – God of the Wind 

Robert Dunbar – High Rise 

Ramsey Campbell – Welcomeland 

Lily Childs – Strange Tastes 

Lincoln Crisler – Nouri and the Beetles 

Jack Dann – Camps 

Thomas Erb – Spencer Weaver Gets Rebooted 

Brandon Ford – Scare Me 

Carole Gill – Raised 

Lindsey Beth Goddard – The Tooth Collector 

JF Gonzalez – Love Hurts 

Dane Hatchell – ‘takers 

Charlee Jacob – Inside the Buzzword Box 

K Trap Jones – Demon Eyed Blind 

Tim Jones – Protein 

James Ward Kirk – Block 

Roy C Booth & Axel Kohagen – Just Another Ex 

Shane McKenzie – So Much Death 

Shaun Meeks – Perfection Through Silence 

Adam Millard – The Incongruous Mr Marwick 

Christine Morgan – Nails of The Dead 

Billie Sue Mosiman – Verboten 

Chantal Noordeloos – The Door 

Don Noble – Psych 

WH Pugmire – Darkness Dancing in Your Eyes 

William Todd Rose – The Grave Dancer 

EA Irwin – Justice through Twelve Step 

Anna Taborska – Out of the Light 



*WARNING: R 18+ - Contains graphic scenes of violence and psychological horror. Not suitable for younger readers.



Grab your copy now - you will not be disappointed (please share this post). 


purchase at:




kindle and paperback

New Zealand Horror Fiction - Does It Exist?

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with fellow New Zealand author, Lee Murray. She asked questions - I responded, oh yes, that's right, it was an interview! And here it is (please make sure to check out Lee's great blog and subscribe). Thanks for reading.

Welcome William! Give us your personal definition of horror. How would you describe it: blood curdling spatter, or through the looking glass, darkly? 

I’m not sure my personal definition of horror is different than standard definitions, but here goes: Horror, in its many guises ‒ fiction, cinema, real events ‒ is a highly subjective phenomena directly related to the individual’s own interpretation of things that inspire fear in the imagination. Fear is the greatest component of horror as an experience. The fear of losing one’s life, the fear of someone close to you losing their life, the fear of a threat that borders on the incomprehensible . . . and so on. Horror is an experience that builds in the mind with the enormity of its potential effect on the individual. It is apprehension that builds terror in the imagination, to the point where madness threatens to eclipse the fear with the suffocating and sublime realization that our greatest fear is real and present. The imagination is a huge determining aspect of the scope of the horror experience; and an essential ingredient that must be considered when writing horror or portraying it [horror] cinematically. If the author cannot engage the reader’s imagination, to the point where the reader can visualize and emotionally trigger their own fears in response to what is in front of them, then the author cannot hope to instill fear and thereby ‘horror’ in their writing. As Arthur Conan Doyle suggested: “Where there is no imagination, there is no horror.”

https://www.amazon.com/William-Cook/e/B003PA513I

My view is that good, well-crafted, horror must create an emotional and intellectual response in the reader that both engages and entertains. It is not enough to bombard the reader with ‘gore for gore’s sake’ or gross depictions of violence without basis or necessity as part of the story – horror, must build to the point where it is inescapable, where the reader has not become desensitized to the point where at the intersection of plot, action and narrative, they feel nothing. It is in the apprehension and the emotional interplay of fear where the best horror lurks. It is a rare skill for an author to be able to build an experience of horror, which gains purchase via the reader’s subjective experience of fear; that triggers a deep intellectual response which, whilst frightening, also provides an element of resolution or satisfaction in the experience.

The confrontational aspect of horror fiction (and film) can either harm or heal depending on how it is done. For example, I distinctly remember, after reading Stephen King’s The Shining, the thrilling but exhaustive feeling that coursed through me as I put the book down for the last time. The story replayed in my mind and my heart beat rapidly as I marveled at the effect that the book had on me. Tied in with my emotional response was a sense of accomplishment: that I had got all the way to the end of this massive book, that I had confronted all the terrible ghosts that haunted the Overlook Hotel, that I had battled the demonic hedge-maze monsters and that I had survived the worst monster of all, the frightening and all-too-human monster, Jack Torrance. It wasn’t a quick read, it didn’t have an abundance of gore and gross-out violence, and the horror experience wasn’t completely realized until the final chapter where it seems as though everything has worked out well for Halloran, Wendy and Danny after the tragic death of Jack and the destruction of the hotel. There is that lingering sense that beneath the surface, beyond the brightness of those who ‘shine on’, the darkness threatens to return.

So, in light of my own personal opinions about horror, you have probably guessed by now that I prefer ‘quiet horror’, the kind that creeps up on you for maximum sublimity. I also like reading more visceral and extreme horror by authors like Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum, but I don’t get the same response to it as I do with more subtle and intricately crafted works like King’s The Shining, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, or Ghost Story by Peter Straub.

In many countries, genre fiction is considered the stepchild to mainstream literature, and horror even more so. Do you think this true of New Zealand? [And what can we do?]

Mention NZ Horror and most people would cite Peter Jackson as being its main proponent. Indeed, the history of NZ Horror is evident in a relatively short film history dating back to the late ‘70s, but not so in the history of our literature. Examples of works exhibiting various tropes and themes found in international mainstream horror fiction can be traced back through select works by some of NZ’s leading writers of their day. The likes of past (and present) NZ literary notables: Maurice Gee (Under the Mountain, and Firestarter), Ronald Hugh Morrieson (The Scarecrow), and Katherine Mansfield (The Daughters of the Late Colonel). All had elements of the horrific in their work, usually of the quasi-gothic variety with dark and ghostly romanticised scenes. Indeed, many of New Zealand’s leading fiction authors have been noted as having various ‘dark’ themes, a synchronicity shared with our cinematic productions. Much has been made of the Kiwi Gothic, but usually only in reference to film in this country:

The Kiwi Gothic constructs New Zealand not as a place of some pastoral idyll but rather as an environment where danger and horror lurk everywhere. The Antipodean gothic is generally considered to be an expression of the settler anxiety that derived from the confrontation with a hostile and alien environment, such as the native New Zealand bush. Unlike the European gothic, which often tells ghost stories set in old castles, the Kiwi version of the gothic often deals with alienation, family traumas and uncanny experiences in very familiar places.
The concept of Kiwi Gothic in NZ cinema can be quite easily aligned to our fiction.  The same characteristics and tropes are readily available in most contemporary NZ fiction. Unfortunately, the best and brightest of New Zealand authors of dark genre fiction have found more success overseas than here in our own country. I don’t even think that the literary elite of this country even consider horror to be a literary genre, let alone a part of the NZ literary canon and in some ways they would be correct. We don’t really have a firm tradition of stereo-typical horror fiction being written in this country (or at least being set here in NZ). I can’t recall ever reading or seeing a book written by a New Zealander about werewolves, zombies or vampires, roaming about our green countryside.

News and FREE EBOOK giveaways

Hi All - it's been a while I know, so as a way of thanking you for sticking around I've got some free books for you! Things have been really busy lately with research for my Masters thesis well underway. The title of my dissertation is 'The Evolution of a Genre: the Rise and Rise of Serial killer Fiction. As you can imagine, the research and writing on this topic fits well within the scope of my fictional work as well, so it should be an interesting and engaging ride. Let's just hope that my supervisor likes the subject as much as readers of my books do! Other current projects include continued work on the sequel to 'Blood Related' (a novel titled 'Blood Loss'), the second volume of 'Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors' as well as an omnibus edition that collates both volumes (1 and 2) plus additional material. 

In other news, I have recently been interviewed. If you're interested in reading these you can view them respectively, here and here.

The last item I have today is a REQUEST FOR REVIEWS! Sorry for shouting, just wanted to make sure everybody heard (wink, wink). If you have read any of my books, please take a minute to drop a short review on Amazon (author page link) and/or Goodreads. If you'd like to become part of my review team, please send me an email and I'll gift you a review copy of your choice. 


Reviews are what drives new readers to my books and to all the other indie authors out there struggling to make a name for themselves. Believe me when I say that without your help, I am nothing. Sure, I would keep writing nonetheless (without reviews) because it is my passion and I can't seem not to write, but a fair review is what helps me as an author improve and to see what readers actually want to read more of. So thank you to those of you who have read my work and reviewed it and to those of you who will (hopefully) leave a short review after reading this. You rock!!!

Anyway, here they are - today's freebies just for you. Just click on the image or the link beneath to download your free copy/s (U.S. + U.K. Links included)


DEAD AND BURIED

Ever been bullied? Ever been dead and buried? Ever been a ghost?
Donny is sick of everything, at home and at school. Most of all, he hates the bullies who have made his life a living hell. Strange things have been happening in the Cox household – Donny’s mother has mysteriously disappeared and his drunken father has been acting more strangely than usual. Donny’s little brother Max is relying on him to find their mother and to protect him from all the things little kids need protecting from. The local gang of thugs is intent on making Donny and Max’s lives as miserable as possible. They will resort to almost anything to make the Cox brothers’ suffer. What the bullies don’t consider, is the possibility that their cruel actions will have consequences far beyond their realms of imagination.





DEATH QUARTET

DEATH QUARTET (A Selection of Short Horror Fiction & Verse) is an eclectic miscellany of psychological horror stories, poems, and ephemera, wherein the subject matter relates to the study of homicide and the aesthetic portrayal of such an act. In other words, themes of death and murder abound in this horrific collection brought to you by William Cook, author of macabre fiction and the novel ‘Blood Related.’ 





CREEP

Be careful who you get into a car with, even if that car is a taxi!
A dark story of a young girl's date with death. CREEP is a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat until the gripping climax which is unexpected and will leave the reader cheering for more. Serial Killers don't always get away with murder, no matter how hard they try.





ONE WAY TICKET

Fast Train To Hell . . .
From the belly of the swamp issues forth a visit in the middle of the night, from a force as dark and unimaginable as hell itself. Poor pig-farmer Abel Laroux, must battle the demons of his past as well as the nightmarish reality of the present, as he confronts a devilish visitor who has come to collect on an outstanding debt. Grab your ticket now for this horrifying journey into a hellish nightmare!





Hope you enjoy these free reads (download 'em quick - two days to go!). Best wishes and please remember to subscribe (click on image below) for the next post/s and another free book. Have a great day.

 

 

#freebooks, Interview, news, william cook, Dead and Buried, Death Quartet, One Way Ticket, CREEP, Lee Murray, Roadie Notes, Book Review Request, #reviews, 

RECOMMENDED TOP TEN MOTIVATIONAL BOOKS - WILLIAM COOK


Over the course of my reading years, several non-fiction books have stood out for me that I have referred to time and time again. Whenever I get the ‘blues’ or need some motivation with my writing or my business projects these are the books that give me the juice I need to create and persevere. I love reading and I love the ‘idea’ of books – the idea that this one thing can impart so much knowledge, information, advice and pleasure, is what keeps me writing in the hope that I too, one day, will create a book that people might want to read more than once. I get a real thrill that something in a book I wrote ‘spoke’ to the reader and helped them through a rough patch, or at least gave them a smile or an idea that helped them get through their day. This is what drives me forward to create books for my readers – that they may entertain, impart a bit of information or wisdom that might benefit them, and that one of my books will give someone, somewhere, the right words to make their day just that little bit better or more interesting. I started my writing career with poetry and this really set me up for writing prose in a way – the understanding of condensing both meaning and eclectic word choices into the best possible economic sentence/line structure, has served me well in both my fiction and non-fiction works. Hell, I think it has even give me a slight edge with my Twitter posts! Writing big things with only 140 characters at your disposal is definitely an acquired skill, when I get stuck a bit of poetry never goes amiss. It is my view that poets make the best Tweeters (tongue in cheek). 

Anyway, back to the books – I’m sure you have your own ‘go to’ reference library, you may even have some of these books in your own top-ten list. I hope you enjoy these recommendations and I’m quite sure that if you haven’t read any of these that you would only be adding to (as opposed to detracting from) your life by reading them. Please make sure to add your own top ten motivational/inspirational books in the comments below and to share this with your friends and networks. Happy reading and stay tuned for the next list which will be my recommendations for the ‘Top Ten Indie Non-Fiction Entrepreneurial Books.’ If you would like to be notified when the next post is published, please subscribe now to my website (I’ll even throw in a free copy of my collected short fiction for you as a thank you) http://tinyurl.com/subscribe-freebook

Best wishes


William Cook


The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

In this fascinating book, Alan Watts explores man's quest for psychological security, examining our efforts to find spiritual and intellectual certainty in the realms of religion and philosophy. The Wisdom of Insecurity underlines the importance of our search for stability in an age where human life seems particularly vulnerable and uncertain. Watts argues our insecurity is the consequence of trying to be secure and that, ironically, salvation and sanity lie in the recognition that we have no way of saving ourselves.

A fantastic book that addresses modernity’s woes with sound logic and reasoning while emphasizing the positives of encouraging ‘spirituality’ into everyday life. This book made things in my mind go ‘click.’ The ideas and succinct philosophy are essential reading for anyone interested in a way forward for humanity – the blueprint is written here, but unfortunately – the people that need to read this book will more-than-likely never pick it up. If you have questions about life and spirituality and the ‘meaning’ of things, I highly recommend that you read this book and share it with someone you love.

The Outsider by Colin Wilson



As relevant today as when it originally published, THE OUTSIDER explores the mindset of characters who exist on the margins, and the artists who take them there. Published to immense acclaim, THE OUTSIDER helped to make popular the literary concept of existentialism.  Authors like Sartre, Kafka, Hemingway, and Dostoyevsky, as well as artists like Van Gogh and Nijinsky delved for a deeper understanding of the human condition in their work, and Colin Wilson’s landmark book encapsulated a character found time and time again: the outsider.

How does the Outsider influence society?  And how does society influence the Outsider?  It’s a question as relevant to today’s iconic characters (from Don Draper to Voldemort) as it was when initially published.  Wilson’s seminal work is a must-have for those who love books and are fascinated by that most difficult to understand of characters.  

This book blew my mind when I read it. Wilson nails the intersection of art, life and philosophy and puts forward his reasoned argument that highly creative individuals bordering on genius (writers, painters, philosophers, leaders etc.) are plagued with self-doubt and existential angst and that this is what drives them on to confront deep and sometimes terrible issues that the rest of us would rather ignore. And it is through this courageous confrontation of the dark side of life that beauty and meaning are discovered. As a lover of books that confront difficult issues and tough conceptual theories and ideas, this book is a fantastic ‘must read’ that answered so many of my own questions about life and art. Highly recommended – ‘Beyond the Outsider’ is also worth reading as a follow-up to this book.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King


"Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the craft. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

As an author who first wrote horror stories, this book was/is my bible. The information is entertaining and informative but, most of all, inspirational. King wrote this book while recuperating from a serious injury; for me, what makes this book great is that his determination and humor shine through as he looks back on his life while taking the time to offer advice to aspiring writers. For one of the most popularly successful authors in the world to lay it all on the table with this book is incredibly generous (and clever) – if you are a writer you’d have to be dead inside not to glean at last one or two profoundly insightful pieces of advice or inspiration from On Writing. If you ever wanted to be an author, read this book also – there is no BS, the hard road ahead is expertly mapped out in a way that will have you turning the last pages before you know it. I am up to my tenth reading with this book and it never gets old – always find something inspiring or useful.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts


"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel by Gregory David Roberts, set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.
As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.

Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujahideen guerrillas – this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.

Fiction or fact, it does not matter, this tome is a masterpiece of prose that will leave most people (with a pulse), breathless. This is truly an epic tale filled with intrigue, adventure and humanity. If it wasn’t so long I would’ve read this in one sitting – it is the kind of book that makes you want to leave your life behind and join the French Foreign Legion or take up base-jumping. It reminds me of James Michener’s ‘Caravans’ mixed with Louis L’Amour’s swash-buckling adventure ‘The Walking Drum,’ placed in a contemporary setting it has a resonance and immediacy that makes it all the more believable and epic as a result. This book encouraged me to be more adventurous – to realize that life does not have to be boring and without excitement and, ultimately, the road to realizing your dreams and achieving something truly worthwhile, is paved with danger and obstacles that might seem insurmountable but are not impossible to overcome.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl


'Man's Search for Meaning’ has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 psychiatrist Viktor Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the stories of his many patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")—holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. "What man actually needs," Frankl writes, "is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task . . . the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."

In the decades since its first publication in 1959, Man's Search for Meaning has become a classic, with more than twelve million copies in print around the world. A 1991 Library of Congress survey that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America. At once a memoir, a meditation, a treatise, and a history, it continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living.

This book is one of the most powerfully emotional reading experiences of my life. It is beautifully written and its message is profoundly powerful. Whenever I feel low or like the world has dealt me a bad deal, I pick up this book and I know that life is good. Not because Frankl went through some really horrible and tragic life events and wrote about it really well – but because he experienced these things and he emerged from his tragic experiences with a hope for humanity stronger than ever. His insights into human nature and the struggle between good and evil will leave a deep impression on your heart and mind. Whenever you think you have it tough, or the way ahead is too difficult – pick up this book and read it – it is bound to change your perspective on life for the better.

Worldly Wisdom: Confucian Teachings of the Ming Dynasty by J.C. Cleary


The philosophical, religious, and sociopolitical teachings of Confucianism have played a central role in East Asian culture for many centuries. This book presents a selection of passages from leading Chinese thinkers of the later Ming dynasty (sixteenth-seventeenth centuries), a peak period of Confucian creativity influenced by Buddhism and Taoism. Chosen for their practical interest and universal appeal, the passages are concerned with how to develop the personality, conduct social relations, and order society. In contrast to the common misconception of Confucianism as a formalistic ideology linked to authoritarian political regimes, these passages emphasize the cultivation of spiritual qualities as a means of operating harmoniously and successfully in the world.

This book ‘spoke to me’ – I can’t explain exactly why but this one is my ‘dip’ book. When I need some ideas or some motivation, I ‘dip’ into it and always come up with a new insight or an idea that inspires me. The wisdom provided in mostly short aphorisms, are brimming with logical positivity and a timeless intelligence and humanity that is as important and meaningful now, as it was when these great thinkers first penned their thoughts.

 

48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

 

Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, The 48 Laws of Power is the definitive manual for anyone interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control. In the book that People magazine proclaimed “beguiling” and “fascinating,” Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.

Some laws teach the need for prudence (“Law 1: Never Outshine the Master”), others teach the value of confidence (“Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness”), and many recommend absolute self-preservation (“Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally”). Every law, though, has one thing in common: an interest in total domination. In a bold and arresting two-color package, The 48 Laws of Power is ideal whether your aim is conquest, self-defense, or simply to understand the rules of the game.

Aside from the beautiful aesthetic of this superbly crafted manuscript, when you need a push forward with your business or social life, this book packs a powerful punch. Filled to the brim with an eclectic selection of the best quotes regarding fundamental laws of human nature, it will inspire you to lift your game, step up and stand out from the crowd with assertively positive mantras and knowledge that you can use in everyday situations. If you are in a leadership role or use strategy in your business (or personal) life, this book is perfect for giving you the edge in combative or negotiation techniques. Knowledge is power and this book is full of both. Read it.  

The Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee

 

Compiled from Bruce Lee’s notes and essays and originally published in 1975, Tao of Jeet Kune Do is the [leading] best-selling martial arts book in the world. This iconic work explains the science and philosophy behind jeet kune do—the art Lee invented—and includes hundreds of Lee’s illustrations. Topics include Zen and enlightenment, kicking, striking, grappling, and footwork. With introductions by Linda Lee and Editor Gilbert Johnson, Tao of Jeet Kune Do is essential reading for any practitioner and offers a brief glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s greatest martial artists.

This book is the fight-club of enlightened philosophy. Bruce Lee’s unwavering determination, intelligence, humanity and enlightenment shouts (or should I say, speaks softly with great authority) from these pages. Despite being a manual for his self-defense martial art system, this book is so much more. If you’ve ever felt like giving up or seem to take the wrong route every time, read this book and take time to understand the very simple but highly effective principles he espouses and you are bound to change your perspective on life and how you live it. This book teaches you how to command respect, take control of your life and emotions, and to take the most economical and effective steps forward. Aside from the practical fighting and self-defense applications he teaches, Lee always imbues his thoughts and suggestions with a philosophical twist that is both profound and poetic. A fantastic book the will motivate your mind as well as your body.

Freedom From The Known by J.D. Krishnamurti


Born in poverty in India, Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) became a leading spiritual and philosophical thinker whose ideas continue to influence us today. George Bernard Shaw declared that he was the most beautiful human being he had ever seen and Aldous Huxley was one of his close friends. Whether debating politics with Nehru, discussing theories with Rupert Sheldrake and Iris Murdoch, or challenging his students not to take his words at face value, Krishnamurti engaged fully with every aspect of life. He is regarded by many modern religious figures as a great teacher, an extraordinary individual with revolutionary insights; Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra are all indebted to his writings.

Freedom from the Known is one of Krishnamurti's most accessible works. Here, he reveals how we can free ourselves radically and immediately from the tyranny of the expected. By changing ourselves, we can alter the structure of society and our relationships. The vital need for change and the recognition of its very possibility form an essential part of this important book's message.

This book should be required reading in all schools and for all politicians. It is soaked in a very human message and provides amazingly powerful and simple solutions, for people willing to change their lives for the better and who want to let go of recurring negative thought/life patterns. If you want to truly understand yourself, as an individual and as a human, read this book. It won’t necessarily make you rich or more successful financially, but you would benefit immensely from it as a leader or mentor. Freeing oneself from the social constructs, bad habits, enforced stereotypes and expectations of a lifetime, is a key part of personal growth and original thinking. This book will open your eyes and mind to the possibilities of a ‘new you’ – perhaps it is a very eastern way of thinking (philosophically and socially) which makes it seem like a wholly original and unique concept, but to my western mind it shouted truth and a fresh way of thinking that has me constantly referring back to this book when wanting personal growth and development.   

Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman

 

Known as the father of the new science of positive psychology, Martin E.P. Seligman draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Offering many simple techniques, Dr. Seligman explains how to break an “I—give-up” habit, develop a more constructive explanatory style for interpreting your behavior, and experience the benefits of a more positive interior dialogue. These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier.. With generous additional advice on how to encourage optimistic behavior at school, at work and in children, Learned Optimism is both profound and practical–and valuable for every phase of life.

This book operates on many levels; a discourse on the various negative human traits (emotional, intellectual, psychological, social etc.) and a practical work-book to achieving a more positive outlook in your life and activities. It is a very deep, thorough and insightful work that is well worth the effort to read and take the time to fully grasp the methods and suggestions Seligman offers. If you are like me and one of those people who seem to be born pessimists, this book is for you. The logical reasoning, lack of fluff and use of real-world examples, worked really well to illustrate his theories and to show how the applications discussed in this book can be implemented. It has helped me become a lot more optimistic and to see things in a much more positive light and for that reason alone I list it here as one of the most influential and positive self-development books I’ve read.

Thanks for reading and I hope that by sharing these book recommendations that you find something that will add to your life. Best wishes and please remember to subscribe (click on image below) for the next post/s and your free book. Have a great day.

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The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, The Outsider by Colin Wilson, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, Worldly Wisdom: Confucian Teachings of the Ming Dynasty by J.C. Cleary, 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, Freedom From The Known by J.D. Krishnamurti, Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman




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