Skip to main content

Image

 

This is my personal list of the best 25 Indie/Self-Published Science Fiction & Fantasy (SFF) authors whose works I have read so far. 

 

To provide some context, by my count I have read approximately 200 different Indie SFF authors to-date. Most of those authors I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed their books. That’s a lot of great Indie authors.

 

So these 25 authors, in my view, are definitely in a class by themselves.

 

To reaffirm, this is my personal list. My subjective opinion. Yours may (and very likely WILL) look very different, based on which Indie SFF authors you have read, of course.

 

That’s a good thing.

 

I’m aspiring to point you in the direction of some authors you may or may not have heard of, and see if you might grow to love their books as much as I do.

 

Here are some rules I have applied to making this list:

 

1.I must have read at least ONE book from the authors listed below.

 

2.The author must have published MORE than 1 book.

 

3.In most cases, with a few exceptions, I have read MORE than 1 book from the author.

 

I felt that was important, before adding these authors to my personal top 25 list, in terms of the list being credible.

 

After all, to evaluate an author as one of my favs, I think objectively I should have read enough books by them, to establish a love of their work.

 

Still, there are some authors who have wowed me so much with ONLY a single book, that they made the list. Still, the author must have published MORE than 1 book.

 

To add, in those cases, I’ve heard enough positives from people whom I trust, about the remainder of that particular author’s body of work, that I’m confident they will continue to be a favourite author, despite only reading a solitary book from them.

4.Of course, to the best of my knowledge, the author is mostly or exclusively an Indie author.

5.In terms of why these authors are incredible, I have tried to identify the ONE trait that stands out the most for me, amongst all the amazing aspects of that author’s writing.

 

The aspect I have chosen will be ONE of the following 5 elements.

 

So, either:

 

  1. characters
  2. prose
  3. worldbuilding  
  4. action scenes
  5. plot

 

Naturally, this does not mean whatsoever that these authors do not excel in others among the 5 identified areas (or aspects such as compelling themes, etc. which I have chosen not to address).

 

I just narrowed things down a bit, I hope, in terms of 5 primary elements that I feel draw SFF readers to an author’s work.

 

Hopefully this will help you decide from a macro view (beyond a gorgeous cover or intriguing back cover blurb) what might make you want to give these authors a try, as a reader.

 

So please consider checking out books from these marvellous writers!

 

The list is organized only alphabetically, and NOT ranked in any other way.

 

**NOTE, PLEASE FORGIVE THE SIZE VARIATIONS BETWEEN AUTHOR PHOTOS, I GOT WHAT I COULD, WHERE I COULD GET THEM FROM, MOSTLY FROM GOODREADS! BUT IF THERE WAS NO AUTHOR PHOTO THERE, FROM THE AUTHOR’S WEBSITE OR TWITTER, ETC!**

 

So, without further ado, here is the list!

 

Zamil Akhtar

Zamil Akhtar – Read Zamil Akhtar for worldbuilding. While his prose is also fabulous, the worlds that I’ve read and heard about from Zamil are haunting, brutal, and so well thought out. So far, Zamil is the best I’ve read in terms of the cosmic horror element. He paints worlds of immense beauty balanced alongside abiding terror. It’s addictive and heady stuff that excites, lingers in the mind, and is masterclass.

Zack Argyle

Zack Argyle – Read Zack Argyle for his ability to his extremely tight, clean and accessible prose. While I prefer more elevated prose, surely I cannot deny that this prose will work for I believe the vast majority of fantasy readers out there, and because it’s so accessible it paves a wonderful path for the other great aspects of Zack’s writing. You will never struggle to read a Zack Argyle book, and that’s a good thing – it flows seamlessly.

B.A. Bellec

B.A. Bellec – Read B.A. Bellec for the plot. Things tend to go FAST in a B.A. Bellec book. Like, light speed fast. By no means does B.A. skip the details, or make his characters anything other than very interesting and engaging. The themes B.A. explores are always thought-provoking, and his action scenes are fantastic. Yet what stands out is how exceptionally paced his books are, and how well he manages story momentum.

Philip Chase

Philip Chase – Read Philip Chase for worldbuilding. I could have chosen action sequences or even characters here. Yet, Philip’s stupendous, fantastic histories, prophecies, lore, religions, cultures, races, languages poetry, songs, and exceptional imagination, style, is top notch. His ability in creating these elements in a fantasy novel seamlessly woven into the tapestry of the book, is reminiscent of masters such as Tolkien.

Kerstin Espinosa Rosero

Kerstin Espinosa Rosero – Read Kerstin Espinosa Rosero for the wordbuilding. Her worldbuilding is stunning. Be warned, Erikson-style, Kerstin does not do a lot of hand-holding with the reader, in terms of exposition on some of its finer points. That said, the world Kerstin creates in what I’ve read from her is truly glorious, replete with amazing features such as: airships, realms centered around fire or ice, floating sky kingdoms, cities built in mountains, elements such as the fashion of ending a conversation by walking away. Some marvellous details to this exemplary worldbuilding.

INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL R. FLETCHER, AUTHOR OF BEYOND REDEMPTION |

Michael R. Fletcher – Read Fletch for the characters. His characters always leap off the page. You feel like you know them – and you may either like them or hate them – but you will surely understand them. And, you’ll be unable to rest until you know what they are going to do next. They are typically a hot mess, and you will love every minute. Just be warned, this is one of THE most Grimdark of Grimdarkest authors out there, so many of Fletch’s characters are also going to be reprehensible…and utterly fascinating.

Ben Galley

Ben Galley – Read Ben Galley for the action scenes. I could have picked worldbuilding here but Ben’s fight scenes are plenty furious, breathtaking, and the magical element added to these combat sequences really made for some thrilling reading. They are very cinematic. If you are a fan of Brandon Sanderson and how he incorporates magic with fight scenes, you are going to love Ben Galley’s combat sequences.

J.E. Hannaford

J.E. Hannaford – Read J.E. Hannaford for the prose. If you are looking for that perfect balance between being elevated prose, and the prose being so wonderfully open and easily readable, the often-poetic but always fabulous prose of J.E. stands out for me. I get lost in her words, and tend to find myself re-reading passages because of the way she has with words. And those who know me know prose is the key for me to potentially loving any book.

Tim Hardie

Tim Hardie – Read Tim Hardie for the characters. Perhaps Tim’s greatest strength is the power of his secondary characters, and his ability to present the reader multiple perspectives of different sides of a central conflict. All the while, somehow, Tim still manages to make the story seem like it’s tightly wound around the protagonist. Tim displays his characterization skills right out of the gate in the novels I have read by him, with his incredible prologues. Tim’s prologues are some of the best out there (along with Philip Chase and Daniel T. Jackson) in Indie SFF.

Rob J. Hayes

Rob J. Hayes – Read Rob Hayes for the characters. This veteran, prolific, and extremely well respected fantasy author is also a great storyteller. Yet, in my opinion, it’s his characters that make his books unforgettable. When you finish a Rob Hayes book, the characters live in your head for a long time after the last page has turned. I still think about a lot of the characters from the books I have read by him, and that quality will always keep me coming back to his books.

Daniel T. Jackson

Daniel T. Jackson – Read Daniel T. Jackson for the characters. Daniel does a superb job of moulding realistic characters that the reader can relate to, identify with, and ultimately care about deeply. Even if the reader will not always agree with the actions taken, or even dislikes the character, it is highly likely that the character’s motivations and choices will always be understood and seem very plausible.

Eve Koguce

Eve Koguce – Read Eve Koguce for the characters. When you read a book by Eve Koguce, while her protagonists are always wonderfully done, you will demand spinoff novels about most of her auxiliary players – they are that enthralling. Eve is fantastic at writing characters that you will care about, and need to see more of, even if they play a more secondary role in the narrative. And of course, as a character-driven reader, I can’t get enough of Eve’s characters.

Bjørn Larssen

Bjørn Larssen – Read Bjørn Larssen for the characters. Bjørn Larssen is a master of initially punching the reader in the gut, with sadness and futility in one scene, then leaving us with the expectation of something much more positive and optimistic to come in the next. He puts his characters through immeasurable trauma, abandonment, and loss, but ultimately you will be entirely satisfied at the end, due to the torturous journey the characters undergo, when they come out the other side.

Krystle Matar

Krystle Matar – Read Krystle Matar for the characters. She’s maybe at the top of the list for characterization, among some amazing character-first writers. She brings the pain, her characters will suffer, and you will suffer too, with just enough hope to sustain you. Part of her genius, is that Krystle’s characters absolutely feel entirely like real people, with all their myriad of strengths, flaws, and complexities.

Image

A-M Mawhiney – Read A-M Mawhiney for the characters. While her redolent prose was a close second here in terms of a standout quality,  A-M pens brilliant characters, not without their flaws, but beloved. She shows their impatience, selfishness, immaturity, and sometimes hubris, but they tend to ultimately overcome their own desires and wants for the sake of those they love, and for the greater good.

 

L.L. MacRae

L.L. MacRae – Read L.L. MacRae for the prose. Again, another case where worldbuilding could have been what I chose to focus on with this writer, however I chose the writing itself. L.L.’s prose is clear, crisp, tight, and at times, very beautiful. Paired with a pace in her books where things generally happen (quickly) while never feeling like things are rushed, L.L. really gripped me with her writing ability.

Virginia McClain

Virginia McClain – Read Virginia McClain for her action scenes. Her combat scenes are stellar. The 2000 film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, set in 19th-century Quing dynasty China, is one of my favourite action movies. When I closed my eyes, and imagine the incredible fighters from that movie, taking on all comers, after reading some of Virginia’s writing, I am very much reminded of that film . The whirling katanas, the throwing knives, the blurring combat moves, fists, kicks, and blades coming at all angles – it was dizzying, chaotic, thrilling.

E.G. Radcliff

E.G. Radcliff – Read E.G Radcliff for the characters. Bring on the tissue box, because E.G. will put her characters through a lot of both physical and emotional pain and you will hurt and cry right along with them. She also gives them moments of extreme happiness and will make you weep with joy for their triumphs. E.G.’s books truly pull at the heartstrings, and the lasting impact on the reader is the sign of an amazing writer.

Vaughn Roycroft

Vaughn Roycroft – Read Vaughn Roycroft for the action scenes. If I were to compile a list of the Indie writers whose action scenes I have thought were the most thrilling, Vaughn would be in the top five, for certain. They are visceral, fast, pulse-pounding. For violent confrontations that feel like the stakes are high, where the actual fighting is extremely well choreographed and feels authentic, Vaughn is the Indie writer for you.

Jacob Sannox

Jacob Sannox – Read Jacob Sannox for the characters. It was close for me, in terms of deciding which Jacob excels at more, action or characters. But I chose characters here. Jacob is someone who will shock you at what he makes his characters capable of, and what he forces them to endure. You won’t be able to look away, but you will want to look away. A fabulous character-driven writer, who does not shy away from exploring the depths of depravity we can sink to, and also what horrors we can persevere through.

Trudie Skies

Trudie Skies – Read Trudie Skies for worldbuilding. From what I’ve read from Trudie Skies, the design and concepts she deploys in her worldbuilding are examples of some of the best Indie fantasy has to offer. It is completely beguiling, absolutely bewitching. The sheer scope of this, the uniqueness, the detail, and the ingenuity involved in creating all this, is staggering, and you will be happily lost in the immersive worlds that Trudie creates.

Image

Clayton Snyder – Read Clayton Snyder for the prose. It’s not that his worldbuilding and characters are not great, because they are. Snarky, smarmy at times, lyrical and very elevated at times, always witty, the prose is indicative of a very savvy author. Very very eloquent, yet not wordy, Clayton knows how to convey a lot of themes with a paucity of well-selected words. It truly blew me away how he accomplishes that. Ricardo Pinto is a comparison here.

M.L. Spencer

M.L. Spencer – Read M.L. Spencer for the characters. M.L. writes characters that make you want to stand up and cheer when they triumph, cry when they experience tragedy, and generally fret over their well-being. She adroitly pens realistic and diverse players in her work, including neurodivergent characters. While her worldbuilding is also superlative, her characterization is so top notch, I had to highlight it.

Marian L. Thorpe

Marian L. Thorpe – Read Marian for the character work. She brings a true adeptness to handling characters, making them very believable, compelling, and memorable. Her books are definitely of the slow-burn, character exploration variety. Marian excels in Hobb-like fashion, with respect to conveying the depth and breadth of her characters’ feelings. Since Hobb is a good comparison, and there are a lot of Hobb fans I know out there, perhaps take a look at Marian’s books once you’ve gotten through the Hobb backlist and your re-reads.

H.L.Tinsley

Holly Tinsley – Read Tinsley for the prose. It’s lean, mean, and smooth as butter. The wit and humour always hits the perfect note. Holly is known for having some of the absolute best opening passages anywhere in Indie Grimdark fantasy, and that reputation is very well earned. Holly truly packs a punch with every word, and she does not have to say much to have her writing resonate with the reader.

 

P.L. Stuart

 

 

 

One Comment

Leave a Reply