Have I ever talked about John Biles? The search field on the site says no, so I’m going to go ahead and do so now.
John Biles is one of the two major influences on my writing alongside Chris Davies — who no longer has a website far as I can divine, he used to reside on the now-defunct Geocities — though since I haven’t read anything written by Davies for at least 8 years now, I think Biles is probably in front at this point.
You won’t recognize their names, of course, because they’re not published authors. They are — in keeping with the trend of my recent posts — fanfic authors who have branched out and done some original fiction on the web, but never (to my knowledge) in print.
Regardless, I take my cues where I can find them, and Biles has had one of the more distinctive writing styles that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. His manner is clearly derived from humorists like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett but incorporates his own perspective on topics (with emphasis on history and mythology) and timing.
His sense of humor has clearly been heavily influenced by anime, with references to that culture’s comical language abound in his writing (for example, he makes references to characters “turning to stone and blowing away” which is a frequent visual gag in anime to indicate when someone has been stunned into silence, typically from overwhelming embarrassment). The pacing of his work also seems to be similar to that used in television, with scene breaks showing up in rapid succession sometimes like brief cutaways in a TV show or movie.
What really stands out about him, in my opinion, is his heavy emphasis on rapid-fire dialog and the very subtle manipulation of the narration. While he tends towards 3rd person omniscient perspective, frequently the tone of the narration is influenced by the characters in the scene. A stoic character might skew the narration towards more restrained scene description with long words and impartial action description placing emphasis on the empirical. On the other hand, a manic character would skew the narrative towards more playful metaphors or speculative description on the intended end of an act.
It’s hard to describe, honestly.
In any case, I’m a bit fan of him, and I’m somewhat humbled by what appears to be a rather content attitude towards what he can do and where he does it. I’ve never heard him gripe about trying to publish or breaking into the realm of print media (though he has contributed to some history textbooks, if Google is accurate) with this fiction. He is very popular in the anime fanfiction circles and seems to be happy there. It’s been over 13 years since I first read one of his stories (at which time he was already one of the veterans) and he is still today churning out absurdly long stories on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, his humble nature is a bit of my problem with him, and is the reason for the title of this post. He doesn’t appear to be a glory hound, and, as such, he tends to release new chapters to his stories without much fanfare in random locations on the internet and doesn’t keep his website up to date with new releases.
Case in point, his personal website was last updated in August of 2009. He’s written the equivalent of two novels worth of fiction since then without updating the site with links to any of it. I only found a recent batch of (to me) unread Biles fanfiction because I was Googling him to find an older story he wrote but appeared to be lost to the sands of time.
Further Googling determined that keeping up with his releases is a bit of a hunting exercise. Further complicated by the existence of several other ‘John Biles’ in the world with much higher public profiles (including a member of British parliament).
Still, if my extensive pile of compliments isn’t enough of a clue, I think it’s worth it to track down his stuff and read it. Sometimes it can be a nightmare to find out where Chapter 22 is when Chapters 1-21 were on one site and you find Chapter 23 on another, but the actual content of his writings are top class.
The start of any search should start at his website. Good luck after that.