Posts tagged: Canadian author

Apr 03 2010

About reading.

I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader. When I was in grade school, I read constantly. I devoured novels as though my life depended on it. And my writing has been greatly influenced by what I read back then.

When I went to university, I stopped reading fiction as much and started reading non-fiction: text books, to be sure, but also books to research my papers and other books that I discovered through my research. My writing has also been influenced by this reading.

After university, there was the Internet. Reading blogs, reading articles online, doing research online, reading web comics… there is a wealth of words out there, and if you sift through the chaff you can find amazing nourishment for your mind.

It has been difficult to get back into reading fiction. I probably will never again read as voraciously as I once did, but it’s definitely not something I will ever give up completely, just as there have been certain authors who have consistently retained me as a reader through the years.

Four Authors I Read Regularly

Orson Scott Card (Science Fiction, Fantasy)
Lurlene McDaniel (Young Adult Inspirational)
Charles De Lint (Fantasy)
Robin McKinley (Fantasy)

Four Books I Recommend

Concerning the Spiritual in Art, by Wassily Kandinsky (Non-Fiction; an insightful look at the nature of art)
On Writing, by Stephen King (Non-Fiction; a by turns funny and serious book about the craft)
Sewer, Gas, and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy, by Matt Ruff (Futuristic Fiction; a very humourous novel that is well-written and has some amazing characters, as well as a great plot)
Lottery, by Patricia Wood (Fiction; a novel from the point-of-view of a man with an intellectual disability that has well-developed characters, an entertaining plot, and is incredibly believable across the board)

I read other authors, of course, but those are the four I look for most often in the bookstore. I own over 20 of Lurlene McDaniels’ books. And I would recommend other books, but these four, I think, offer an excellent assortment of theory, practice, and example.

Oh, by the way, if you go to the Artful Words web site, the April newsletter came out yesterday. Go check it out!

Aug 02 2009

Discovering an author.

How did you discover your favourite author?

I found Robin McKinley when I borrowed Deerskin from a friend. I wound up keeping her copy for so long that I eventually just bought her a new copy.

I found Orson Scott Card when my aunt, who was living in Salt Lake City at the time, gave me Buffalo Girls for Christmas. It took a few years, but I did eventually read it, and I followed that up with Song Master and Ender’s Game.

But Charles de Lint… that was a roundabout discovery, to be sure.

What I recalled, until I started the search today, was that I had read Tam Lin when I was a young teen. I loved that book. I read it when we were on summer holidays, visiting my cousins in Ontario. They were in Canada on furlough; their parents are missionaries in Africa. We went to the library at some point, and one of them let me use their library card to borrow the book. I did finish it before we left, though it was a very thick hard cover.

All I really remembered of the book was that I found it in the ‘D’s. That and the cover art.

Until today, I was convinced that Tam Lin was the first de Lint novel I read. I was wrong.

As it turns out, Tam Lin was written by Pamela Dean. Now that I know the name of the actual author, I’ll have to see if I can order it in. The book is, however, a part of the Fairy Tales series, edited by Terri Windling. Each book in the series is a retelling of a fairy tale, written by a different author. Given my fascination with fairy tales and their retellings, I am somewhat enamoured with the whole idea. I found some others in the series via the cover art, and I own both Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose and Patricia Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Red. Eventually, I will locate and purchase a copy of each book.

But I digress.

Apparently, in my search for another book in the Fairy Tale series, I happened upon Jack the Giant-Killer, by Charles de Lint. It makes sense that this would be the next I found, given my certainty that the author I was looking for would be housed with other ‘D’ authors on the library shelves, and this makes clear my assumption that it was de Lint who wrote Tam Lin, as well.

I’m not sure what I read after Jack the Giant-Killer. I know that I have made it a point to seek out de Lint’s books in libraries and book stores (both new and second-hand), and I am currently reading The Little Country, having just finished Spirits in the Wires. I’m not concerned with reading the books in chronological order; I read Widdershins before The Onion Girl, and was pleased with myself when I figured out that Spirits in the Wires falls in between the two latter books, chronologically.

Charles de Lint is counted as one of my favourite authors because he is so good at drawing me into the between – that world that exists just on the edge of consciousness, where the fey live. When I am reading one of his novels, I believe that what I am reading is true – that it is real. I suppose I must halfway believe it anyway, or I wouldn’t write fiction myself.

But being able to make it real to someone else, if only for the time they are reading the work…

That, my friends, is the goal of a true writer.

Jun 12 2009

The passion behind the words.

I read a short novel today. It’s a young adult novel by Canadian author William Bell. His books have won awards. I discovered him when I was in high school and read what I could find; I found another two books of his at our local library a few weeks ago and have finally had time to read the first. It is called Alma, and it is about a young girl who loves to read and longs to be a writer. (Sound familiar?)

Alma befriends an author – her favourite author, no less – and near the end of the book, the author says a few words about the passion writers have for telling stories. Tears threatened as I read the words, for they are true:

“But the main thing, I think, was that I had simply lost my passion for telling stories. That’s something you know about, Alma, the passion, because you have it.”

Alma thought she knew what Miss Lily meant, but she wasn’t sure. “Tell me what it’s like,” she said. “Please.”

“Perhaps,” Miss Lily began, “it is, above all things, lonely. So many hours by oneslf, lost in research or imaginings. Then there is the lack of understanding. So many people seem to think that all one has to do is find an idea for a story and write it down. They talk of inspiration as if it replaced grinding toil, the wrestling with ideas and character and narrative structure, the revising, the arguments with editors. And worst of all, the corroding self-doubt that will not go away no matter how well received the books are.”

Miss Lily looked away again.

“All of which sounds like a complaint,” she went on, “but I don’t mean it that way. What gets us through is the thrill of making something out of nothing. It’s the passion to tell the story that means so much to us.”

William Bell, Alma (Doubleday Canada, 2003) 112-113

I don’t think there is much else to say on the topic; Mr Bell has summed it up so well here.

WordPress Themes