Wilbur Smith doesn’t seem to want to slow down. At 87 years old, you could be forgiven for thinking now was the time to hang up his quill and enjoy retirement. But while he has resorted to using co-writers for the last few year, a trick many aging writers use – think Clive Cussler, rest in peace – and his works are certainly not as large as they once were, but that is not to say his passion for sweeping historical dramas has waned at all.
Max Brooks has not had the most prolific career, having only written five published works in his nearly twenty year career, with only four of them being full novels, yet as a genre writer has made an indelible impression on pop fiction. Starting with The Zombie Survival Guide, a not-quite-tongue-in-cheek in depth guide on how to survive should the undead return from the grave – seriously, its complexity and detail is both amusing and quite frightening – he showed that he could write with an element of conviction that was fascinating to read. Yet it was three years later, with the release of World War Z that he truly cemented himself as a significant voice in the genre. A parody of The Oral History of World War 2, World War Z quickly rose to the top of any budding horror fan’s reading list and, nearly fifteen years later, it is still heralded as a classic of the genre (the less said about the terrible Brad Pitt movie adaptation the better).
As stated before on this blog, the fast paced thriller/mystery novel is absolutely saturating the market at present. They usually follow a similar formula: protagonist lives simple life, revelation happens that send their world into turmoil, they spend most of the novel investigating the why of the story, with a few good red herrings thrown in for good measure, before the over-arching question is answered in the final thirty pages.