Heidi C. Vlach is a chef training graduate from Ontario, Canada. Since she was a teenager, she has been working on fantasy worlds populated by non-humans, believing that this niche is capable of more than just "talking animals".
What do you read for pleasure?
A varied diet. Discussion blogs, original fiction, fan fiction, random science and culture trivia — all sorts of stuff I find online. When I read a "real book", it's usually something unusual or nichey. Ideally a fantasy work with some magic and dragons in it, but I'm very, very picky about what I read to the end.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. The book is inspiring already, but the icing on the cake is its journey to publication. It's an odd story that no one thought would sell — but it caught on in a big way and a lot of people found it meaningful. 2) His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik. I'm not usually interested in historical fiction, but I think the use of dragons to question human society is a great move. I also appreciate the sense of realism, where changing social norms is a complex, frustrating endeavor and you can't just solve everything with one flashy act of heroism. 3) A Left-Handed Sword by Phil Geusz. It's a short novella, but it's still a beautiful look at the human spirit and how the little things matter. 4) A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge. I struggled with the denser metaphysical parts of the story, I admit, but the alien races! They're unusually-designed beings who are well-developed in their own societies, and the narrative treats them like they're as valid as humans. That kind of development in a story always delights me. 5) The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. I just read it recently and I absolutely loved the whimsical nature of magic and the poetic voice.
Half Brains, Sacred Water book 1
on Nov. 15, 2010
I was distracted from Sacred Water's story by its amateurish writing. Nearly every sentence is in simple subject-verb-object formation. "Daniel does this. Daniel does that. He then started doing something else". This repetitive structure makes the writing sound clunky. Description is often skipped over in favour of stark "telling" (ie. "The royal physicians were obviously becoming concerned", instead of noting their facial expressions or other indicators of concern). Tired cliches such as "limp as a rag doll" are used. Because of the simplistic writing style and distant POV, the characters don't seem have any emotions -- they're just doing tasks and speaking words.
It's a shame, because the vocabulary and customs are mostly believeable in their setting. The ailing royals and their medical drama has the potential for an interesting plot, with the mystery and drama established early on. But I felt like I was reading a synopsis instead of a finished piece of prose. Development of the characters and refinement of the writing style would improve this story greatly.
on Feb. 14, 2011
This story has a staged, deliberately theatrical quality that I thought fit very well with the ancient Greek subject matter. Interesting follow-up to the classical myths.