By Lawrence Block

I can give you unbiased reviews of lots of writers, but I can't give you an unbiased review of Lawrence Block. I'm warning you in advance. The man is one of my heroes, and my role-model, and one hell of a writer at everything he turns his hand to. Consider yourself warned, then.

I started reading Lawrence Block back before I realized that books had authors. (At one point in my childhood, I'm pretty sure I thought they were either dictated by gods or grew on trees.) But the public library had a couple of Bernie Rhodenbarr books, and I took them out and read them and thought they were terrific. And took them out again. And again.

And years and years later, I was reading Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, and the writer mentioned having written books about Bernie Rhodenbarr. And I thought, "Oh, my God! I've read those! You wrote them?" I started paying closer attention to what Block was saying. And this book helped me get my career off the ground. Block is one of those writers who can both teach and do, and he teaches in such a warm and personable manner that you can't help but like him, and remember what he says, and give his suggestions a try. And when they work, you try a few more.

He's inspirational, funny, honest, helpful ... and probably clean, forthright, and brave, too. And I envy his talent with titles. Telling Lies for Fun and Profit is terrific. Read it.

• The Courage to Write (How Writers Transcend Fear)

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