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Richard A. Kirk Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Necessary Monsters (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Lost Machine (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Magpie's Ladder (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Richard A. Kirk is a Canadian author, illustrator and visual artist. Kirk was born in Hull, Yorkshire in 1962 but his father uprooted the family and they settled in Southwestern Ontario in Canada in 1968. He has had a very successful career as an illustrator and visual artist and his works are regularly featured in international exhibits. He has illustrated the works of China Mieville, Clive Barker, Christopher Golden, and Caitlin R. Kiernan. He is also responsible for the creation of the cover art of The 2007 album by Korn. He makes monochromatic drawings with graphite, silverpoint and inks and has had books and art at the center of his imagination for as long as he can remember. He got his introduction to art from books and came to look up to illustrators rather than fine artists as his role models. This is the reason that he worked hard to develop his skills in composition, draughtsmanship and narrative over the years. Since much of his art incorporates bizarre creatures and morphing forms, it is likely to appeal to fans of weird fiction. The reason for this is that Kirk grew up reading bizarre fiction and those early reading experiences were a huge influence in his modern works. His novels incorporate the crumbling settings, lush gardens and monsters common in the fiction he read in his early years.

Growing up, he spent a lot of time in the woods around his home and other weird places such as industrial sites, rail yards, and gravel pits. The town in which he spent much of his childhood had a legacy of being one of the pioneers of the petrochemical industry. From his home, he could see miles of flares and refinery lights while on the opposite side was Lake Huron. The lake was a constant source of fascination as the beach provided endless natural detritus and life. As a child, he was obsessed with insects and found that the abandoned foundry and the government docks were great places to satisfy his obsession. It was the juxtaposition of the natural and industrial world that led him to develop an interest in processes and forms. Beginning as an artist, it was natural that he would draw upon his visual vocabulary in his narrative and artistry endeavors.

As an introverted kid, books were also another refuge when he was not spending time in nature. A. Kirk spent a lot of time getting lost in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction novels and to some extent comics. He trawled the second-hand bookstores and read everything he could lay his hands on, an endeavor that connected him with a wide range of related art forms. He particularly loved reading weird fiction from the likes of Verne and Burroughs and was soon addicted to Lovecraft. He used to read a lot of Lovecraft in his mother’s garden and asserts that the lush settings in the novels fit right into the reality he was living in. The novels provided an overlay over his banal life though they also provide a way to escape into the magical and fantastical. His way of thinking was completely changed when he was given a copy of John Crowley’s “Little, Big” on a wet and windy night in Toronto. He was also influenced by 19th and 20th-century book illustrators such as William Heath Robinson, Franklin Booth, Henry Clark, Maurice Sendak, John Austen and N.C. Wyeth. Richard was attracted to their ability to transport their readers to other worlds and he wanted to be able to do it too. His earliest influence in this regard was English author and artist Mervyn Peake who wrote the Gormenghast books. Mervyn provided the best model of author-artist before he moved on to better-known role models such as Salvador Dali and the Brothers Quay. The former influenced his later fusion of strange imagery and immaculate technique while the latter fascinated him with the atmosphere and detail in their films and stills.

Richard Kirk has been called the contemporary maestro of the fantasy genre since he combines the extraordinary creatures and forms into thrilling narratives and images. His fertile and vivid imagination spawns magic like no one else’s and makes for some breathtaking results. Richard seems to naturally have the capacity to let the subconscious take over in his creative work which gives him the scope to creatively portray his philosophical ruminations. He places this in the context of the visual aesthetic he has cultivated since he was in his teens and was fascinated by fantasy and science fiction. His narratives are enriched with lush landscapes and monochromatic imagery that spawn a legion of bizarre beings of strange hybridity. The curious associations of his characters and their settings are what form the groundwork of his mysteries that seed a host of philosophical questions in his readers.

Richard A. Kirk’s first novel “The Lost Machine” introduces Lumsden Moss, a man who steps out of prison to a world ravaged by plague. The only things in his possession are fragile memories of his children that had been killed and a yellowing satchel with a few notebooks of the details of his former life. He had vowed to track down and exact revenge on the men that had killed his children and his resolve has never wavered. Working together with a stranger, he goes on a quest to the ancient City of Steps, where he has to confront the horrors of the present and past. Kirk draws a story set in a beautiful but strange and dark world.

In “Necessary Monsters,” Lumsden Moss the unrepentant bibliophile and escaped thief is still looking to exact revenge on the killers of his children. A huge opportunity to get even with the magistrate that had put him behind bars arises when he is told that a rare book the man owns could be easy pickings. While he steals the book, he soon finds that he is not the only one who wants it and he soon has to flee from some dangerous people. It turns out that his pursuers want not only the book. They believe he could help them with some information about an accursed and abandoned island named Nightjar, which had never been inhabited since the Purge. When he makes friends with a nimble-fingered thief name Imogen he realizes that his dark past may be inextricably tied to a witch child and her dreadful pet monster. They are living in a world where technology and magic combine for some dark situations and now they have to work together to decipher a mystery that affects both of their futures.

In “Magpie’s Ladder,” a researcher is drawn to the fascinating Darkling Lands. Meanwhile, an engrosser who was plumbing the labyrinths of a building learns that he is not the only person working in the dark night. A giant man is searching for a brother that went missing, a young woman starts a new life in a formerly sealed house built on an ancient crumbling bridge. In the last story, a young academic finds himself in a dark fairy tale when he rents the house of a dead professor. It combines five stories of darkness, yearning and curiosity as the author explores the dangerous and fragile correspondence between monsters and humans. It is the first collection of Kirk’s illustrated short fiction.

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