Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Authors I Want to Be My Mentors

The author Stephen King once said "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." (Source)
I haven't read much of Stephen King. As in... I've never read any of his books. I'm way too much of a wuss to even try to pick up The Shinning or anything else like that. (Although, the Facebook book club I'm starting is reading his book Firestarter as our first one. Eek! If you want to be a part of it, click here to join the group.) However, I do respect him as an author because he has written so many novels and short stories. Many of which are best sellers and have inspired others to create movies, TV shows, and pursue their own stories. So, when I hear his words of wisdom when it comes to writing, I listen. 

I particularly agree with this statement about reading. (As does JK Rowling actually.) If you want to write well, you need to read. Granted, you probably don't need to read a kazillion books a year or anything. But you do need to read. Good books, bad books, books in the genre you write about, books outside of that genre, etc. If you don't read, how are you going to learn more about your craft? How are you going to know good writing when you see it?

No matter what your craft or talent is, you most likely have people you look up to. If you play basketball you probably look up to people like Michael Jordan. (Or whoever is popular these days. I don't know sports.) If you are a musician you listen to other musicians. If you're an artist you learn about other artists. I think you get my drift by now.

The same goes for writing. Whether you write fiction, poetry, blogs, etc. you need to read. Read something - anything. Because that's how you learn.

I was thinking about the authors I admire. Not just my favorite books, but authors who I truly look up to. The ones when I read their books I sit in awe of how they paint pictures with their words and form unforgettable characters and stories which sweep me off my feet. These are the authors who I would want to mentor me in my own writing.

Naturally, I went to social media to find out which authors my other "writer type" of friends look up to. They had a variety of different authors they shared with me. Eric Metaxas, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, the apostle Paul, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Aaron Allston, Mercedes Lackey, Virgina Wolf, John Green, Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone, Douglas Adams, etc.

All of these are different from the others, but all have something to add to the writing community.

If I were to pick any authors to be my mentors, here's who I would pick.

Elizabeth Chadwick
The Greatest Knight, Lady of the English, Summer Queen, etc.

“Weep now, but tomorrow be strong. Remember who we are and that whatever else is taken from us, they will never strip our honour and our pride.” 
― Elizabeth ChadwickTo Defy a King

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The way she can take true events and people from history and turn them into novels is amazing. I would love to find out how she does all of her research, how she organizes it, and the process she has for creating a story. Yes, some of her methods are... unusual. (I think I heard she goes to psychics or something.) However, she's undeniably a fantastic author.

John Green
The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines

“Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people. And that’s true whether you’re reading Shakespeare or bad vampire fiction—reading is always an act of empathy. It’s always an imagining of what it’s like to be someone else.” 

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I'll be honest, The Fault in our Stars is my favorite book by him, I've only read two other ones. They were good, don't get me wrong. But I wasn't blown away the way I was with TFioS. However, I do love his videos and I love how real his stories are. Especially TFioS. He has this awesome way of writing stories for young adults which also connect to adults.

Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline

"The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked...that's the moment you may be starting to get it right."

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I've only read two of his books so far, but I have all of them on my "to read" list and I cant wait to dig into them. He creates this beautifully "ordinary" characters and puts them in unreal situations which almost seem normal. I've been blown away by how he puts pieces together for a story and the sense of humor and ridiculousness in his novels. Whenever I've read quotes by him about art and writing and life they resonate with me and I find myself agreeing. I would love to hear him talk about writing, but about life as well. Also - he's written episodes for Doctor Who.

Anne Rice
The Vampire Chronicles

"To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself."

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She is the queen of vampires and the supernatural. She wrote about vampires before it was cool! I'm always entranced when I read The Vampire Chronicles. Her ideas are controversial, powerful, and unique. I love her characters and I find myself wanting to read more about Lestat partly because I still don't 100% understand him, he's so in depth. Also, she does a fantastic job of  connecting with her fans. (AKA- "people of the page.") She's always updating her Facebook page and discussing issues of the world with her fans, and when she's unavailable she makes sure her assistant (Becket) updates for her and lets everyone know who is the one writing. 

JK Rowling
The Harry Potter Series, The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm

“I didn’t write with a target audience in mind. What excited me was how much I would enjoy writing about Harry. I never thought about writing for children — children’s books chose me. I think if it is a good book anyone will read it.”

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Let's be honest - she's fantastic. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone she's on my list. Harry Potter has some of the greatest storytelling and most memorable characters of this age. She's able to create a beautiful fantasy world and story, while also discussing intense issues like prejudice, justice, family, depression, love, and friendship, in a way anyone of any age can connect and learn from. But even beyond Harry Potter, she's great. The Casual Vacancy may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the characters were still wonderfully made and the story was written well. I haven't read either The Cuckoo's Calling  or The Silkworm yet, but I've heard great things and I'm excited to read them. And she did it while not even using her own name. Yes, the books probably sold a lot more once it leaked she was the author. However, from what I've heard The Cuckoo's Calling did just fine before then.

Rainbow Rowell
Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline

"I find love stories satisfying when you can see the work - when you can really watch people find each other and fall in love, a little bit at a time. I like slow burns. Falling in love is so good; why would you want to rush it?"
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She has become more of a recent hit- but I think we'll be seeing more of her as the years go on. Her characters and stories feel so real. It's as though these are people I would see walking around my neighborhood, on campus, and at the store. Also - her twitter is hilarious and I feel like we would laugh a lot AND Fangirl was a NaNoWriMo novel.

Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

"I think that's a hallmark of a really good story that it has readers that it speaks to more than others."
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Another NaNoWriMo author and the author of one of my all time favorite books. She's a creator of fairy tales and magic and wonder and love. Nearly everything I love in the world is in her book and I can't wait for her to write another. 

Then again... maybe I wouldn't have them mentor me. I'd be too afraid to show them anything I write for fear of them hating it! (haha.) If you could pick any writers (or someone in your field) to mentor you, who would you pick?

Monday/Tuesday Bout of Books Update
Total number of books I've read: 1
Total number of pages I've read: 164
Books: Completed American Gods and began Anna Dressed in Blood


  1. yes yes to all of these! I wish we could get a big conference going where we could get mentored by all of them!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  2. American Gods has been sitting on N's nightstand for like a year. I had NO idea that the author had written an episode of Doctor Who!!! (I'm watching an episode right now as I type this). Now I really want to steal it from him and read it.

  3. John Green actually advised having a mentor in one of his videos. He said that whatever you want to do, you should find someone who is doing it well and have them mentor you- one of his biggest influences was an old boss of his.

    Not being sure exactly what it is I want to do, I find the idea of trying to search out a mentor really confusing. I wonder if it's more necessary within creative fields, which it looks like I am moving further & further from!

  4. Mine would hands down be Ted Dekker. No question about it. Frank Peretti would be a close second, and Michael Stackpole (one of the Star Wars writers).

    1. I've never read Michael Stackpole, but Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti are both amazing!

  5. It took me quite some time to finish "American Gods" too, which is weird because Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. (Sidenote: I love "Neverwhere" too!) As for the mentors, I think I'd choose Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, and Paulo Coelho. :)


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