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Friday, September 22, 2017

Follett Adds to Kingsbridge Series

Written by Jon Williams

Like so many authors, Ken Follett didn’t originally have his heart set on a career writing fiction. Born in Wales before moving as a child to London, he studied philosophy in college, he started out working in journalism. The tide began to turn a few years later when he moved into a publishing career and began writing fiction of his own. After a number of novels were released under pen names, Follett finally found success under his own name with Eye of the Needle in 1978. A World War II spy thriller, it won the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and it set Follett on the path of an internationally bestselling author.

He followed that novel up in 1979 with Triple, another spy novel, this time set in the Middle East of the late 1960s. Indeed, Follett would become known primarily as a purveyor of fast-paced spy novels full of action and intrigue. Novels in this vein include 1985’s Lie Down with Lions, 1991’s Night Over Water, and 2001’s Jackdaws. And although it’s actually a true story, 1983’s On Wings of Eagles fits into much the same mold, as it explores a daring rescue mission to liberate two men being held in an Iranian prison. It was adapted into a miniseries in 1986.

However, this type of action thriller is not all that Follett writes. Although many of his novels were based around various points of 20th century history, in 1989 he planted his feet more firmly in the realm of historical fiction with The Pillars of the Earth, which explores the building of a cathedral in a fictional English village in the Middle Ages. It became his bestselling work to that point. After a long layoff, Follett finally followed up The Pillars of the Earth in 2007: World Without End revisits Kingsbridge Cathedral more than 150 years later, during the time of the Black Death, through the eyes of the descendants of characters from the original novel. And now, at long last, there is a third installment in the series. A Column of Fire, which came out last week, brings the cathedral and its surroundings into the Elizabethan era.

With that novel just coming out, hold lists may be long, for the initial installments as well as the latest release. However, you can direct impatient patrons to check out another series of historical novels from Follett. This trilogy began with Fall of Giants in 2010, following a number of characters through such events as the Russian Revolution and World War I. Follett wrote the novels in this series much more quickly than the Kingsbridge novels; the second, Winter of the World, was released just two years later, in 2012 and deals primarily with World War II. The third, Edge of Eternity, came out in 2014, and carries the families through the Cold War, from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Whatever he’s writing—whether it’s spy thrillers, historical fiction, or even non-fiction—Ken Follett’s work is always popular with patrons. Make sure you have his latest hit novel on your shelves for them to enjoy, and SmartBrowse his name on our website to find all we have to offer.

Friday, September 1, 2017

In Memoriam: Tobe Hooper

Written by Jon Williams

Acclaimed horror director Tobe Hooper passed away last weekend at the age of 74. He was considered an incredibly influential filmmaker—a quick Internet search will return a number of articles praising his work—and looking over his body of work, it’s easy to see why.

Growing up in Texas with parents who owned a theatre, Hooper came by his love of movies naturally. He took that love with him to film school at the University of Texas in Austin, and he jumped into his career with his first film in 1969, at the age of 26. Eggshells, a low-budget horror/sci-fi movie, barely made a ripple as it came into the world. The same could not be said for his next feature. In 1974, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre terrified audiences and revivified a flagging horror genre. Filmmakers including Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, William Friedkin, and Ridley Scott have cited this seminal film as an influence in their work. He followed it up with a sequel in 1986, and the original was remade in 2003, with Hooper serving as co-producer.

Then, in 1982, came Poltergeist. Written by Steven Spielberg, who was unable to direct while he worked on E.T., the film was instead directed by Hooper. It was a critical and commercial success, and is still considered a classic 35 years later. Despite some confusion over Hooper’s role in the film, he pressed on, following it up with a pair of horror/sci-fi mashups: Lifeforce in 1985, and Invaders from Mars (a remake of a 1953 movie) in 1986. In 1995 he directed The Mangler, based on a short story by Stephen King and starring horror icon Robert Englund. His final film was 2003’s Djinn, about an apartment that is haunted by demons.

However, the silver screen was only part of Tobe Hooper’s career; he also did quite a bit of work for the small screen. That began in 1979 with his first Stephen King collaboration: the miniseries adaptation of the vampire novel Salem’s Lot. Over the years he would contribute to a number of anthology shows like Amazing Stories, Body Bags, Tales from the Crypt, and Masters of Horror. He also directed individual for a number of other shows, such as The Equalizer, Dark Skies, and Taken.

Tobe Hooper loomed large in the world of horror filmmaking, and his absence will be sorely felt. With Halloween right around the corner, now is a perfect time to stock your shelves with his classic films and lesser-known gems. You can SmartBrowse his name on our website to find all the titles listed above and more.