Saturday, October 25, 2014

On Meeting Authors

I've met a few authors so far in my life. I say "so far" because I hope to meet SO many more. One of the things about being an avid reader is having a multitude of authors you want to meet. I pretty much just want to meet every author who wrote anything on my bookshelf.

A few years ago, Kristin Cashore came to a college in my area to read from her book, Graceling, and talk about writing. I had never read Graceling (gasp!) but I went anyway. And I really liked what I heard of it that day, and I liked what I learned about Kristin Cashore--she's so intellectual and sophisticated!--and so I went home with signed copies of Graceling and its sequel, Fire. 

Last year, I went to a writing conference and met with the featured author, James Kennedy. I had never read his book, The Order of Odd-Fish, but I was going to the conference anyway. And I absolutely loved The Order of Odd-Fish. It's hilarious and "out there" and odd so, basically, everything I look for in a book. James Kennedy is such a nice person, and one of the most interesting authors I've met (granted, I haven't met that many).

My point here is that I met these two authors before I read their books. I had no idea whether or not I would like their books. And I think that now, my opinion of the author is completely tied up with my opinion of the book. If I had hated James Kennedy, would I have read his book? I don't know.

So I'd known since early June that Mike Mullin--author of the Ashfall trilogy--was going to be at a local library in October. I read Ashfall in August, but not the other two books. When I met Mullin, I thought he was really funny, and even though he's probably done essentially the same speech for many other events he's attended, he was very genuine and engaging. This was an interesting experiment for me, because I read his book before I met him. However, I only read one of his books. So when I get around to reading Ashen Winter and Sunrise, I'll see if my opinion of the books is any different (Of course, there are other variables, like the fact that they are different books. I liked Divergent but not Allegiant, and I've never met Veronica Roth, so that had nothing to do with her).

I know it's wrong to read books with the author in mind; it's better to judge the book by itself, but that is so difficult. The author wrote the book. Coming from an aspiring writer's point of view, when you write, you put everything you've got into your book. So isn't the character of the author one of the most important characters of a book? I suppose at some point you have to separate the author from his/her work, but I still haven't been able to do that completely.

It's working out fine for me, though. I've never met an author I didn't like. (Did I just jinx that? Noooo...)

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