The Favorite Author Conundrum
I’ll be starting the official book tour for FIERCE KINGDOM in a little less than three weeks, so I’m starting to think about what questions I’ll likely be asked. There’s one I have no doubt about: Who’s your favorite author?
A softball question, right? No problem?
I dread it. I seem to simultaneously forget every author I’ve ever read and think of a thousand names at once. I’ll flash to the reading list from 12th grade English, and I’ll think of the book I’ve tried to start three times and never finished, and I’ll wrack my brain for anything that’s on my bookshelf.
Part of my trouble, I think, is that I often read in phases, having fallen in love with an author and decided to read everything by her I can get my hands on. This is a terrible way to read. It is never the most flattering or satisfying way to experience an author’s work, but I do it anyway. I can’t help it.
The list of those obsessions is a wide and eclectic list. I am heavily into Elizabeth Strout right now. I was on a Colson Whitehead kick before that, devouring three novels before I made myself switch to someone else. And in those weeks, each of them were my favorite author.
That designation changes based on day and mood and random firings of my brain. It’s like asking for my favorite food–it depends on the moment.
But my “favorite” is also never singular. It’s a shifting and swirling list, and it is longish and lacking coherence. (I should specify that for me to say an author is a favorite, I feel like I should love multiple works by them. Otherwise it’s not really a favorite author–it’s favorite book.) Currently my list is something like this, maybe…. Edith Wharton, Ann Patchett, Margaret Atwood, Charles Dickens, David Mitchell, Richard Russo, Toni Morrison, Elizabeth Strout, Colson Whitehead, Hilary Mantel. Maybe add Neil Gaiman and Jane Austen and Willa Cather. I’m in the early stages right now, but I’m considering adding Penelope Lively and Elena Ferrante.
Ask me again next week and you might get something different. Although I’m considering printing out that last paragraph and keeping it in my purse.
Just read an nterview with Gin Phillips in The Globe and Mail and looking forward to books by this new (to me) author.