Oct 12 2012 10:00am

Unbanned, Unsung, and Unappreciated: Which Authors Deserve More Attention?

Great Maria by Cecilia HollandThe last week in September was Banned Books week, when readers and writers celebrate a list of books groups or individuals have tried to ban from classrooms and libraries. I’m always up for a good celebration for books. Keep in mind a basic fact about a banned book: it has gotten attention. Someone somewhere cares enough to make sure other people don’t read it—which, naturally, piques a lot of interest in the book.

Many obscure authors would love it if some group somewhere went public with a “don’t read this book!” announcement but no, we not going to take that route. This week we’re going to go the opposite direction to get people interested. I hereby declare this Unbanned, Unsung, and/or Underappreciated Book Week, otherwise known as the 3U Book Week. We have to make lists of favorite 3U books and go all out (tweet? Face book ‘em? Knock on doors? Call people up? Put ads in local papers?) to try to get people to read them.

I think everyone has a list of books that came and went without making so much as a ripple but that the few readers love and champion, even years after the book vanished. Maybe it was a book you discovered at the library cast-off sale or on the 90 percent off table. These are the books or authors you read when you need a pick-me-up or who never fails to move you or make you laugh.

I asked a few writing friends and acquaintances for their favorite 3U authors. They answered almost immediately and most answers made it clear they were readers who could support the Unbanned Unsung and/or Underappreciated cause.

Trust Me If You Dare by L.B. GreggLinda Ingmanson, an editor—“The book I always think of is Cecelia Holland's Great Maria. I recommend it often. It's not really a romance, but it does have a great, realistic couple at its center. It’s been a couple of years so it’s about time for me to reread it.” Yup, rereading is a sign of a real 3U book promoter.

Author K.A. Mitchell—answering without pause: “L.B. Gregg is an autobuy for me. I don’t even bother reading the cover copy. I just buy it.” When I pointed out Gregg isn’t entirely obscure in the m/m community, Mitchell said, “she should sell even more.” Mitchell was a true proselytizer—a strong mark of a 3U supporter.

Author Jessica Andersen: “Linnea Sinclair.” And when I pointed out Sinclair is fairly well known, Andersen said yes, but more people need to read her. Yup. Another evangelist.

Stealing Midnight by Tracy MacNishAuthor Anna Bowling—“Tracy MacNish. She’s so wonderful. Just..just…Oh, I’ll have to email you to tell you why.” Yes, that’s another sign of a genuine 3U’er;  she wants to tell you exactly why you need to read her fave immediately.

Author Valerie Parv—“The Far Arena by Richard Ben Sapir (1975). .. stayed in my mind long after other books have faded. It tells of a Roman gladiator frozen in the permafrost in the time of Domitian, found by oil prospectors and revived... The book also has one of the best chapter opening lines I've come across, ”No-one should have to see how a gladiator kills.“ Simple yet so vivid that I can quote it from memory to this day.” Another rule for a 3U book and reader? Time does not matter. The book stays with you.

Tregaron’s Daughter by Madeleine BrentSarah Frantz, a professor who teaches romance novels in her classes—“Madeleine Brent, who is actually Peter O'Donnell. S/he wrote historical romances set all over the world. They're colonialist fantasies, sure, but deeply layered stories about the power and resilience of women not only to survive but also to solve problems and save the world.” She had another name and title, but I picked one per customer. Coming up with a list of works and authors almost immediately? She’s a real 3U supporter for sure.

Want to know mine? Tough, I’m telling you anyway. (Does it take little or no impetus for you to talk about your favorites? You’re an authentic 3U celebrant)

Once Upon a Christmas by Diane FarrI frequently mention Diane Farr, who usually writes historical romances. Her book, Once Upon a Christmas, is one of my favorite holiday books. Yes, she’s won RITAs but not enough people read her books. And I really like Marie Treanor’s voice. No matter what sort of hero or heroine she’s writing about, I’ll buy the book. And then there’s a bunch of others I’ve mentioned all over the place for years, RA MacAvoy, Edith Layton, Judith Merkle Light and. . . Yeah, my list is longer—and the rules about “only one” don’t apply to me.

By the way, I asked Diane Farr about her favorite 3U. She remembered the book that really turned her onto romance. For Christmas, someone gave her a bottle of perfume—Aviance perhaps?— that came packaged with a little book called Masked Deception. “It was by an author I'd never heard the time, I think she really WAS an author few had heard of.”

Mary Balogh is no longer a 3U author, but Farr loves her still. To be the real thing, you can’t abandon your favorites even if they become successful.


Kate Rothwell writes romance using her own name and the pseudonym Summer Devon. She lives in Connecticut with four men (three of whom are her sons). You can out more about her at and

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Marian Lanouette
1. Marian Lanouette
I agree so much with this statement I shared it on all my loops. Great author and person.
Anna Bowling
2. AnnaBowling
I miss Tracy MacNish's stuff like crazy. Wonderful use of emotion, vivid historical settings and stories that aren't afraid to go through the dark places on the way to happily ever after. Would love to see more of her stuff, but for now will settle for recommending the existing titles.
Marian Lanouette
3. PJ Sharon
A great topic, Kate, especially in the YA world where there are tons of banned books. One group went as far as to ban Harry Potter books because of the "witchcraft" factor. We all see how that fared:-) Judy Bloom is another author whose books have often been banned and who is a champion for the rights of authors and readers to decide what is suitable and for whom. Thanks for the post!
Marian Lanouette
4. Laura Hamby
I found a book called *The Mirror* by Marlys Millhiser...way back when I was a college student working in a used book store. I still have that copy I got there and re-read it at least once a year. Time travel, contemporary (well, it was contemporary when it was published in 1978) romance,'s hard to pin any genre on this novel. Have I mentioned I love this book?
Marian Lanouette
5. Mark Alan Shaffer
I can think of a few Science Fiction Writers and Authors that feel that way. It also seems like many Self-Publish or POD Authors feel the same.
We just want our books to be read and enjoyed.

Here is my second book. Check it out and Enjoy!

The story opens with two Agents from ISIS Space Station Security investigating malfunctions and possible sabotage at the United Space Agency’s newest orbital complex, The Freedom III Space Station. The investigators spend about an hour doing a routine safety check of the outer hull area. The Agents think they may have found something so they head back inside the station to check their findings with the lab. Moving into the clean room just inside the pressure hatch they begin to remove their space suits and stow their testing equipment.
As they remove their protective helmets the air lock of the sealed room explodes. Their environment was being sucked out into the emptiness of space and they could do nothing to stop it. It was all the two Agents from ISIS could do to not be swept away with their air and anything else that was not nailed down.
They tried to hang on to the contours and projections on the wall but they both knew what the out come would be. As painful as it was Christine Walters could not help watching her partner and friend as he was wrenched from the once safe confines of the Station out into the vacuum of space. There was very little that she could do for him as he floated farther and farther away. Eventually Agent Walters strength ebbed away and she resigned herself to the same fate as her partner and released her hold on the Station. She thought of Mitch Hawkins, a dear friend of hers, and the words left unsaid as she drifted away from the Freedom III Station.

For her there was only darkness…

“Crimson Enigma” can be found on and
This Author can be found on Facebook and contact him at: and also on his Online Bookshelf.
Marian Lanouette
6. Gracie
I can't really think of any obscure authors at the moment--unless Kate considers herself obscure, cuz I love you, hon! Your writing rocks!

John Jakes "The Bastard" series--loved it. Nora Roberts way before she was La Nora. Mary Stewart's Merlin series. E.M. Forster and James Joyce. Daphne du Maurier, oh delicious! Loved the gothic romance. I don't suppose any of these are obscure authors, but they are well loved and like the others said, they should still sell more.

And so should you, Kate!
7. Kareni
I love time travel stories, Laura Hamby, and have also read and enjoyed
The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser. Are you familiar with Ken Grimwood's Replay? If not, you might give it a read.

In the romance category, a particular favorite is Jo Goodman. She doesn't seem as well known as she ought to be.
Marian Lanouette
8. Valerie Parv
Like the 3U Books idea, Kate. Have noted a few new (to me) writers to try. I thought of another name for the list, historical author, Theresa Denys. That was the pen name of legendary Mills & Boon editor, Jacqui Bianchi, my first editor there. Her book, The Silver Devil, was a hot, fun read. In my Carramer series, the Theresa Denys Memorial Hospital is named in her honour
Marian Lanouette
9. Laura Hamby
Thank you, Kareni! I'm going to go look that up right now. :)
Carmen Pinzon
10. bungluna
I love Kathleen Gilles Seidel, particularly "Till The Stars Fall". I keep hoping to run accross a new novel by her, something I haven't read yet.

I also think sci-fi writers Sharon Lee & Steve Miller are not read enough. Everybody should read their books, they are so great. Adventure, romance, space aliens, a bit of magic, they contain something for every reader.
Marian Lanouette
11. Wendy Roberts
Great post! I have many of the books mentioned here but I'm adding a couple to my "to buy" list. I love finding new authors to read!
12. KateRothwell
I'm still working my way through a list of books I got when I asked for paranormal book titles (that's how I discovered Ellen Kushner). I've already ordered a couple of these though--Sapir is not available on Kindle.

Here are more names I'd add:
Carolyn Jewel (her historicals), Bonnie Dee (yeah, I know, I always add her.) Elaine Corvidae (space/fantasy), Barbara Metzger (another name I mention, often. She's Heyer meets Wodehouse), JL Merrow (an m/m writer)
13. KateRothwell
hey, I just thought of another name I'd add: Wendy Roberts! She writes fun mysteries.
Marian Lanouette
14. kathi h
Well done! sharing this one.

kathi h
Marian Lanouette
15. Janga
Only one? Since bungluna chose Seidel's Till the Stars Fall, which I've been recommending for years to everyone I know, I'll go with Ruth Wind's (aka Barbara Samuel, aka Barbara O'Neal) categories. In the Midnight Rain is well known, but some of her categories also amaze me every time I reread them. I reread Jezebel's Blues a month or so ago, and some of those passages are still singing in my head.
Marian Lanouette
16. nookbooklover
The author is Pat Frank and the book is called Alas, Babylon. Terrific!
Marian Lanouette
17. Oonafitz
I agree with Madeleine Brent. I love all her titles, especially the early ones. Also love Mary Stewart's pre-Merlin mystery romances. And one of my favorite ole authors is Jane Aiken Hodge.
Post a comment