There has been a bunch of stuff going around Facebook where you list 15 albums, authors, etc. I got tagged by a pal and listed my fifteen which I’ll talk about more below.
The gist is that you come up with fifteen authors or poets who have influenced you and who will always stick with you. You have to take no more than fifteen minutes to create this list, but in actuality I think I took about five on it. It’s not hard to list authors, but listing just fifteen? Very difficult. At first I thought my list might be made up entirely of historical fiction authors, and I surprised myself when it had more poets than anything else. (On second thought, that should not have been a surprise.)
So here’s my list.
- Harper Lee – Because To Kill a Mockingbird was the first circular novel I ever read and the first one that related to the beauty and nastiness of the human spirit. It’s endured because it’s just really great.
- Pearl Buck – I loved The Good Earth so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterward. I loved the simpleness in “the poor fool,” the way Buck evolved the characters of O-lan and Wang Lung, and incorporated the culture and economy of China. Her amazing acts in support of adoption are also close to my heart.
- J.D. Salinger – It’s still hard for me to believe that Salinger is gone. He managed to be a living legend, even though he lived as a recluse. I loved that he continued to write even after publishing his first couple of books. People often think he just published one (The Catcher in the Rye) but he actually published several others. He became tired of the judgment involved with writing. Part of being a writer is having your work judged, so I’m not sure I would do that myself. But to each his own. I learned about my own writing through his, and that’s a gift.
- Karen Harper and
- Philippa Gregory – My two favorite historical fiction writers! This part of the task was so difficult for me, because I could have easily listed about twelve people. (C.W. Gortner, Michelle Moran, and Robin Maxwell, just to name a few. And how fabulous that I got to interview each of them!) But I chose Harper and Gregory because their books have really stayed with me. Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl started the whole Tudor obsession. (And Harper’s Elizabeth mysteries is awesome.)
- M.J. Rose – Like a lot of writers, I not only love her books but admire her approach to the business of writing. So many writers have a skewed view of the publishing world, and Rose tells it straight. It’s about hard work and reality. Plus, she’s truly one that “gets it” with marketing. If you have a chance to take her “Buzz Your Book” class, do it! (And be sure to check out my interview with her, too.)
- Elinor Lipman – I love, love, love Lipman’s writing style. Her book Then She Found Me is one of my all-time favorites. And guess what? I was fortunate enough to interview her as well! (Incidentally, Rose and Lipman’s interviews are two of my worst ever. Not because of them (because they were both gracious and lovely) but because I admired them so much I think I did a piss poor job!) In my opinion, no one does a better job with characterization than Elinor Lipman.
- Elizabeth Berg – I’ve seen her at book signings many times, and she’s every bit as fabulous in person.
- A.S. Byatt – I’ve only read two of her books, and they were both so profound and wonderful (yet so different) that I still think of them from time to time. The mark of a great writer.
- Willa Cather – The classic! What a writing style she has. I often say she could write about garbage cans and make them sound engaging and warm, and it’s true. She’s amazing.
- Lawrence Block – There are many things I adore about Lawrence Block. First, the fact that he has written one of my favorite mystery series ever with his Bernie Burglar books. Second, that he has written three very different and successful series of books. Third, that when you see him read it is really a treat. (In fact, when I went to see Marcus Sakey at a book signing last year, he asked the crowd who our favorite mystery writers were and I said Lawrence Block, and he said, “Isn’t he a great reader?” Not every author is, but Block has a special gift for it.) Fourth, I adore his sense of humor. Fifth, the last time I saw him, he unashamedly pulled out tee shirts and old books to sell at the bookstore. He said he was paying his gas to drive around to different bookstores. I loved this! I loved his honesty and of course since I’m a fan would have purchased anything from him.
- Maya Angelou – There so much I love about Angelou’s work. It’s soulfulness, style. The way she reads. The way her words stay with me….
- Robert Frost and
- Emily Dickinson – Two of my all-time favorite poets. I love Frost’s technique and style, and the deep meaning he puts into simple “story” poems. I adore Dickinson’s style and metering. Reciting one of her works is really a treat.
- Mary Oliver – Love how Oliver combines poetry with nature. Her subject matter and style move me to tears sometimes. She is that good. “The Journey” has to be one of my all time favorites. I think there has been a request for a Mary Oliver book or CD every year for Christmas since I got married. Once, while reading her books just before I went to bed, I was inspired to write a poem about her work:
“Silently I Read Mary Oliver’s Poetry”
Late at night
as I read
“More Beautiful Than the Honey Locust Tree
Are the Words of the Lord.”
I am filled with thoughts of Heaven
as Mary Oliver
with her beautiful words
I am filled with
and want of shouting,
“Glory to be God!”
But I must remain quiet
for my husband sleeps
I want to read aloud to him,
“For You are forever
while I am like a
single day that passes.”
But he sleeps so sound
and looks so handsome
in his dreams.
He is my nature,
my gift of love.
And I smile at his gentle snores –
my little slice of heaven.
So there you have it! My list of fifteen authors. Of course, there are so many more I could have added. The written word is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?