While there are many up and coming authors out there, one of the best is Matthew Cook. I first met Matt a few years ago at the Context Convention in Columbus, Ohio. He was signing copies of his first novel Blood Magic, published by Juno Books. Even though I'm not a big fan of "paranormal romances," which Juno is mainly known for, I picked up a copy.
I was blown away.
As I wrote in my review at that time, the novel is a must read for any fan of fantasy or horror. The sequel, Nights of Sin is even better, taking Matt’s characters onto unforeseen emotional and storytelling grounds. While these novels were marketed under the paranormal romance subgenre, they picked up a much wider readership. The reason for this is Matt's story easily crosses several genres and creates a world and characters which are both totally unique and totally believable. The books did extremely well, becoming two of Juno's best-selling titles and with both being nominated for the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. (And as a side note, I now believe the books are actually science fiction. But since Matt won't tell me the truth of that, I'll only learn if I'm correct when Matt finishes the series.)
Unfortunately, when Juno was purchased by Pocket Books they were told to focus exclusively on paranormal romance. That meant no more cross-genre books like Matt's. But he's still working on the third and final novel and I'm sure another publisher will eventually jump at the chance to purchase the book.
Until then, Matt has a new story you must read: "The Shoe Factory," which was recently accepted by Interzone.
While it may not be fair to plug something which isn't even out, I love Matt's story too much to keep quiet. I first read this science fiction tale in manuscript form a while back. Even though Matt had asked me for feedback, all I could meekly mutter was that "The Shoe Factory" was simply and utterly great. The story is beautifully written, deeply touching, and presents a view of life crossing both space and time. Over the last year I've reread the story a number of times and it dazzles with each new reading.
I know I harp on SciFi Strange a lot, but Matt's story is a perfect example of the power of this type of fiction. I don't know which issue of Interzone the story will be in, but it should be out soon. If you trust my recommendations, keep an eye out for the story. And if you aren't already a subscriber to Interzone, dang it, make it happen.