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The Best Author You’ve Never Read (Or: Frog Goes Fanboy)

Anyone who has followed me for a long time knows that I’m a massive Gary Jonas fanboy. And, no matter what I’m writing for, any time I’m involved with a website there’s a pressing need for me to break loose and tell everyone about how awesome Gary Jonas is. I’ve been restraining myself for a couple of months on this site, but I recently wrote an article about indie books and that brought this well of enthusiasm too close to the surface. Now, it bursts forth across the internet for all to see.

I’ve never talked to Gary, other than acknowledging each other on Facebook. I’ve never met the man in person.  He’s an indie author, not published by the Big 5. And I have been his avid and devout follower for almost eight years now. If I were to meet him, I would probably devolve into the drooling fanboy that makes every interaction completely awkward.

I need to put this in perspective for you. I have had lengthy conversations about old science fiction shows over beer and cider with Jim Butcher. I have talked shop with Brandon Sanderson, shaken the hand of David Weber, and once had a pleasant conversation with George R. R. Martin. I’ve played a rousing game of Fiasco with Chistopher Paolini, and I’ve smuggled beer across state lines for Kevin Anderson. This is all my way of saying that I have spent a not-insignificant amount of time with some of the Gods of our industry, and I have managed to keep my wits more or less about me.

That’s not to brag. That’s simply to tell you the level of awe in which I hold Gary Jonas. He is the best author you’ve never read. If I ever find myself in a room with Gary, I’m going to have to take some time to compose myself lest I turn into a spluttering fanboy mess.

I started reading Gary Jonas books with One-Way Ticket to Midnight. Now, I’ve read a lot of books about music and magic, but this one hit me like a Mack Truck. I don’t want to give anything away, except to say that the main character is a middle-aged, down-and-out hobo who used to be a blues musician. Gary takes this homeless man—the kind of man you look away from while he’s waving a cardboard sign at you—and makes him the centerpiece of a dark urban fantasy themed around the power and necessity of creativity. It was the kind of book where, after reading it, you sit back and think deep about the choices you’ve made in life. The kind of book that might make someone (cough, cough) who’s kind of fiddled around with writing as a hobby and spur him on to become a professional author. I’ve heard books described as life-changing before. For me, that is literally true where this book is concerned.

But Gary doesn’t stop there. No, the backbone of Gary’s work is the Jonathon Shade series. I haven’t made any life-changing decisions based around the Shade stuff, but I have stared at the ceiling and wondered what it takes to write something so utterly perfect.  When I read book 2, Acheron Highwayand I mean really got to the end of it and absorbed it all—I realized that I was reading the best urban fantasy series I’ve ever read.  I’m a huge Harry Dresden fan, but the Jonathon Shade books do the same sort of urban-fantasy-as-detective-noir thing and take it to the next level. That’s right—I’m favorably comparing an indie PI/Noir series to Dresden, and telling you that if I were on a desert island with only one of the two series available to me, as much as I love Jim Butcher, he’d be staying at home. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but I once posted a review of Acheron Highway. I stand by that review.

Anyways, as I titled this post, it’s basically me turning into a huge fanboy. But Gary’s a guy who is just broken enough to provoke an extraordinary emotional response from the reader, while not being so broken as to not be able to write in the first place. And I can’t recommend his work highly enough. For those of you looking for indie gems in the book world, go check out Gary Jonas. You will not be disappointed.


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