How does one define a good author? Does their writing style stand out? Do they craft stories that pull you into their world so much that you want to live there? (or at least visit…unless you truly WANT to live in Westeros) Did they write a perfect character that embodies everything you believe? How does this relate to your favorite author?
When I am asked “What’s your favorite book?” I don’t know what to say. It’s too big a question! Let’s narrow it down to favorite fantasy novel, favorite classic, favorite book I read in school, favorite historical fiction, favorite anthology, favorite short story… you get the picture. (And even then- for short stories I would still be caught between Harrison Bergeron and The Were-Wolf). When you’re an avid reader and you read a lot, it’s nearly impossible to think back to every single novel you’ve read and say “This. This is the book!” However, I’ve found it gets easier to say: “My favorite author is ____.” But only when you’ve found your literary soulmate.
Here’s how I found mine. My journey begins in Elementary school when I read “The Captive” and engrossed myself into Native American lore and history. My goal in life in second/third grade was to be captured my Native Americans and live on a reservation. (don’t know what my parents thought of that… and before you judge me remember I was 8 and didn’t really understand culture) This made “Island of the Blue Dolphins” my favorite book and Scott O’Dell as my favorite author. This sparked my love for mythology of all varieties and a special place in my heart for Native Americans, which has grown as I’m still researching (although at a much more adult level) Native American history, culture, and mythology.
During these formative years I also embraced a love for religion, violin, singing, art, and science. I read everything from the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe to the Chronicles of Narinia. In between eighth grade and ninth, “Ender’s Game” by Orsen Scott Card was part of our summer reading. This was my first real science fiction novel and established Card as an easy “Favorite Author.” I read everything by him over the next five years or so. Not just the Ender series, but also the Homecoming Saga, The Tales of Alvin Maker, his stand alone novels like Enchantment, all of them. I thought I was good, until I found my real favorite author.
I found him in a strange place- Amy Brown. I went through a fairy phase that I haven’t quite grown out of. I drew fairies and mythological creatures on everything. I now own two of Amy Brown’s art books. In one, she references a novel “Someplace to the Flying”, featuring girls who can shape shift into crows. In another, Charles De Lint himself wrote the introduction. So my thought was “Well, if my favorite artist drew inspiration from him, he must be good.” Then I found a book of his in the public library, “Memory and Dream”, and on the back cover was a blurb about how great the novel was, written by Orsen Scott Card. “OK,” I thought. “Now my favorite artist and my favorite author endorse this man… who is he?”
And the answer for me, was the closest thing I ever found to writing to my soul. Memory and Dream threw me into Newford, a world of urban magic. Characters from Native American and European lore make appearances. There are artists, buskers, writers, and ancient native american spirits. It blew me away with its scope and characterization. I found characters that I related to on such a base level that I actually wrote in some of his books- underlining, marking up the margins, for times when I completely agreed or he made a point that stuck with me. There are too many to list here, but you get the idea. I love his writing style, I love his world, and I will read everything he writes.
THAT is a favorite author. Now will De Lint be your favorite author? Probably not. I feel that most people don’t necessarily prefer his version of Urban Fantasy, but it means a lot to me and re-reading his works makes me feel like coming home and I find something new every time.
I hope that everyone has a chance to find their author. A person that they can rely on to write stories that entertain, empathize with, and inspire them. The worst thing that can happen after reading a book is thinking “eh- that was ok.” When I reach the end of a novel, I want to put it down and have trouble adjusting to the real world because what I just experienced made me think, made me question, made me want to dive back in and learn more. A favorite author should do this for you and make you want to tell the world how much you love them.
Who’s your favorite author? How did you find them?