With the 7th annual Aye Write Festival finishing up this weekend in Glasgow it got me thinking about books and authors that I am a fan of that weren’t at the festival, and seeing as what we like to do at Elba is take things we enjoy and write about them on the blog, I figured there was no better time than the present to write about an author that over the past few years has been prolific (with 3 books) and more importantly releases a consistently high quality standard of novel.
The author in question is Robert Jackson Bennett. A 27 year old from Austin, Texas… so, not an independent writer from Scotland like you’d expect from this blog however in today’s world Texas isn’t that far away… honest.
I first came across Bennett when given his debut novel Mr Shivers as a Christmas present in 2010. The present giver’s exact reasons were that ‘The Guardian review compared him to a young Stephen King… the good Stephen King’. Reading the novel I was blown away by the pace and excitement of the story and yes, it did remind me a little of ‘the good’ Stephen King. The story of a man hunting down a hobo known as Mr Shivers that has killed his daughter certainly had a hint of King to it. His second novel The Company Man followed in the midway through last year and flipped from King-esque to John le Carre. The Company Man, in contrast to Mr Shivers’ set in the Great Depression, was set in an ‘America that never was’ and was very much a crime thriller set in what felt like an alternate universe.
It was during the promotion for The Company Man that I really began to like Robert Jackson Bennett. To clarify, I mean like him as a person and not just the author I was reading. I read a handful of his own blog posts where he first spoke about how difficult it
was to tell his friends or work colleagues about the books as they would look at him differently after reading the guy that wrote Mr Shivers. Followed by a fantastic post where he spoke about being a new writer and trying to find his own style. As a big reader I found it very refreshing to hear an author talk about finding their feet and how each book is inspired by another author to a degree. In this post he also spoke about how his 3rd book was the first he felt was 100% his style. Recently he also commented on how this is the first book he thinks is accessible to everyone, and I have to agree…that book is called The Troupe.
The Troupe was released a couple of weeks ago and is a classic American Gothic thriller set around travelling Vaudeville players (The Troupe) with a coming of age tale thrown in to the mix. Now, I
plan no review of any of these books on the blog as I would more than likely reveal plot points and being that I myself never read a book reviews for this reason, this is simply a recommendation. If I worked in a book shop and was given the power of the employees “Staff Picks” shelf, this is an author I’d have up there.
Follow Robert Jackson Bennett on twitter @robertjbennett
Follow Chris on twitter @chris_elba
You can also download a pdf of the excellent Scotland’s Bookshelf, charting Scotland’s literary history with excerpts from a whole host of different authors.