Today I saw an author on a TV show. Nothing remarkable in that, it happens all the time. But this particular lady made me sit up and think. Having come into breakfast late and missed all the TV news programmes, due to my life-long habit of feeding my family of animals first, I tuned into The Wright Stuff. Matthew Wright was introducing one of the panel members, an author called Jodi Picoult. Not knowing her work, I decided to watch the interview. The first words I heard her say was that she didn’t believe in ‘writers block’. So I pricked up my ears – I don’t believe in it either.

As I watched this charismatic author from New Hampshire, USA, my writer’s wheels started to turn. Her clarity of thought and the way she expressed her views made me want to read her latest novel, The Storyteller. It also prompted me to check out her website. Once there, I signed up for her e-newsletter, this is something I rarely do.

This then led me to thinking about how important it is for an author to strike the right tone in promotional interviews in order to attract readers. Is it necessary for a reader to like the author? With my reader’s hat on I would have to say, ‘yes’. If I take a dislike to an author for whatever reason, then it would probably take a hefty bribe for me to read his or her work.

Fortunately for me, and for more than a few authors, it often happens that I read the work before learning about the writer. So I’ll throw a few names around. Examples of some long-dead authors whose writing I now view through dark-tinted glasses are Thomas Hardy (didn’t like the way he allegedly treated his wife), JM Barrie (did he ever grow up?), and Enid Blyton (welcomed young fans but didn’t appear to like her own children).

Authors who have first charmed me with their eloquence or anecdotal skills are ones like Jeffrey Deaver, Stephen Fry and Lee Child. If anyone is in any doubt, these are living authors. Politeness stills my hand from mentioning any authors of unpleasant character who are currently alive.

It is a good thing I have no similar prejudice against drug-taking writers such as Baudelaire, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac or Samuel Taylor Coleridge. If I disregarded all those of a similar vein, then my reading list would swiftly halve. The world of literature would be a poorer place without being able to imagine that ‘stately pleasure-dome’ in Xanadu. (Kubla Khan)

By the way, Jodi Picoult’s book The Storyteller is at the top of my to-be-read list.

Do you have any favourite, charming authors whose books deserve reading?

Happy writing… and reading,
Yves.

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Yves Potter

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