I like to collect authors. These are people who write books with characters who stay with me, a storyline that engrosses me or offers such insight into history that I learn from the facts woven into the story.
For me, these authors are people like E.B.White, Madeline d”Engle, Roald Dahl, and Mary Doria Russell, as well as Lauren Belfer, writers of historical fiction. If I was stretching it I could include Maeve Binchy, Carolyn Keen, and a few others, for the enjoyment of their stories or well-developed characters.
E.B. White‘s birthday was two days ago. He would have been 123 years old being born on July 11tth, 1999. Whenever I hear his name, see a quote, or pass the title of one of his books, I am taken back to being a young girl and relive the pleasure I had in reading Charlotte’s Web. The story of an unlikely friendship between a pig and a spider, farm yard antics, the coming of age of a young girl, and the fact that death is part of life is truly an inspiring tale. Charlotte’s Web (1952) is one of my all-time favorite books.
I think I also look up to White in that he wasn’t just one kind of author. He was an essayist, consummate stylist, as well as a children’s author. I wonder if anyone today could have as broad a reach. I somewhat doubt it.
Madeleine L’Engle is another favorite author because of one of her books – A Wrinkle in Time. This book inspired me to love science and embrace the unknown, as well as hope for the future – which is uncertain for all of us. It made an impression on me at a very early age. It told me that it was alright to be afraid and brave at the same time. It taught me that siblings and parents are important and to fight for the things that have that type of designation. The impressions left from that book have stuck with me. As I’ve read other novels, throughout my life, I’d also put The GIver by Lois Lowry in this category of story.
Are kids still reading these types of stories today? I hope so. We need stories like Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, A Wrinkle in Time, and others.
British author, Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, The Magic Finger, James and the Giant Peach, and many others. He lived a varied and full life which undoubtedly contributed to his storytelling, in my opinion. Sadly, Dahl passed away in 1990 at the age of 74. He remains one of the greatest storytellers in children’s literature.
It’s hard to please me with an adult novel. I tend to be critical of see-through storylines and characters that are not fully developed. Over the years, I’ve found that I like historical fiction. Mary Doria Russell writes fabulous books that are thoroughly researched with tightly woven story lines. Her characters are complex and she always manages to hook you into the story early. One of my favorites of hers is Thread of Grace. I also loved Women of Copper County and Dreamers of the Day. The Sparrow is a science fiction novel from her that is also complex but disturbing. When I think of historical fiction, I think of her books. She, like E.B. White has led an interesting and varied life. I believe this makes authors write more complex stories since they have a tremendous amount of life experience to draw from. I hope my life experience in varied areas (healthcare, education, and the environment) will do the same for me as an author.
Lauren Belfer wrote City of Light and A Fierce Radiance, among others. These are the two of her books I’ve read. My attraction to these two stories is the topic and the setting, the previous of which takes place in Niagara Falls. Upon looking up Belfer for this post, I noticed that she has several other novels out that I’ll need to put on my reading list.
As I pursue my own writing, whether it be short stories, essays, poetry, or a novel, I hope my life experience enriches my stories like it has done for these authors. I admire their work and the lives they’ve lived that led them to write and share their stories as well as being people with other skills and interests. They are all inspiring and give me hope in my own writing aspirations.
If you’ve not read the stories I’ve noted here, I can highly recommend all of them.