I love to learn about the authors of books I've read. I love to hear about their educational backgrounds, employment history, their age, the age of their children, and whether those children had colic (you know perfectly normal cyber-stalking stuff but nothing crazy like looking up addresses and driving by houses).
I slightly begrudge authors with MFAs from Harvard and debut novels before the age of 25. I love to hear about struggles with drafts. Conversely, I don’t like to hear about a novel taking 10 years to write. I do love to hear of rejections. Again, though, I like to hear about the author who made it despite the odds. I love when an author has a background I can identify with.
Sara Gruen, author of my beloved Water for Elephants, was a laid-off technical writer home with three children when she wrote her first novel. Jodi Picoult also has three children although her oldest was a baby when she wrote her first novel so I do slightly begrudge that just as I slightly begrudge J.K. Rowling sitting in coffee shops with sleeping babies writing Harry Potter (my own babies barely slept long enough for me to throw in a load of laundry and take a shower let alone write a novel).
I just finished rereading Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins didn't write Hunger Games with beautiful flowery MFA-prose but with edge-of-your seat brilliance. She expertly described scenes, carefully crafted characters for us to love and hate, gave us perfectly placed and paced dialogue and wrapped it all up in an unbelievably believable plot.
Before writing Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins was writing children’s television for Nickelodeon. She was a staff writer for Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. She also penned multiple stories for Little Bear and Oswald. She was the Head Writer for Clifford’s Puppy Days, and a freelancer on Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!
Wow! Wow! WHAT? With the exception of Little Bear and maybe Clifford, I can’t stand those shows! But I loooovvveee that – I love that Suzanne Collins wrote something as brilliant as Hunger Games in the same lifetime as she wrote about some weird bouncing creature and his nerdy friend Widget. It humanizes her.
It makes me feel like my dreams are attainable. I might write a crappy blog today but maybe tomorrow I’ll write something that someone thinks is brilliant…