When we saw this month’s topic, it sparked a long conversation and a ridiculously long list of authors of books we love. We each have a virtual library of favourite books, but too often an author will only appear once in that library. So more than one contribution to the ‘favorites’ stack is necessary to label an author as admirable.
In spite of that criteria, the list of authors we admire is miles long, spanning decades and verging on unmanageable…but the reasons we admire them, the things they all have in common, that list is much shorter. And everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
The authors we admire create complicated characters. They’re not perfect, but something about them makes us root for them anyway. It’s never easy to create a ‘difficult’ heroine or hero who is still relatable, even loveable. It’s an art and one we strive to master in our own writing. We love Victoria Dahl and K.A. Mitchell for their flawed and complicated characters.
The authors we admire build worlds with depth and richness. They’re not utopias, nor dystopias – nothing so simple as that. These worlds draw us into their gray areas and make us want to stay. A.C. Crispin and Jordan Castillo Price are both on our list for world-building excellence.
The authors we admire consider every word before it goes on the page. Sentences are layered with nuance and detail, words and phrases are chosen carefully to convey exactly what the author intends, and often linger in our minds long after the book is finished. Elizabeth Bear writes with a great deal of care for each word, as does author N.K. Jemsin.
As readers, we’re pretty demanding, now that we’re thinking about it. We like things a little complicated—a lot complicated, sometimes. The authors we admire most create complexity that goes down easy, so that it’s often only in retrospect that we completely understand how elegantly knotted the story and the prose were in the book we’ve been reading. That’s what draws us in so that we can’t put a book down.
We trust the authors we admire to take us out of the easy places and into the harder roads and out the other side, every time.