Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Favorite authors

I set a lot of store in who someone's favorite author is. I think it says a lot about a person. Not necessarily good things or bad things, just... things. So we're going to tell you who our favorite authors are this week.

Mine is, hands-down, unequivocally, indisputably, Neil Gaiman. That man is a genius. He wrote my favorite books, the Sandman series of graphic novels. (But we'll talk about our all-time favorite books another time.) He also wrote StardustAmerican Gods and Anansi Boys (novels that are likely intended for adults, but are great for the more reading-inclined of adolescents) and he co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett (the author of the Discworld books). He has also written some other graphic novels, like Murder Mysteries (about the first death among angels) and Marvel 1602 (which is pretty much what it sounds like... Marvel heroes in the year 1602). He also has written several children's books, with The Day I Traded My Dad for Two Goldfish and The Wolves in the Walls which are both picture books, and the chapter books Coraline and The Graveyard Book.

I was first introduced to Neil Gaiman's work in my adolescent literature class in undergrad, when our professor showed us the movie Mirrormask, which is also a picturebook by Gaiman. It's a beautiful film, and if you liked Coraline, I'm positive that you'll like Mirrormask, because I think they're similar (but Mirrormask is better, in my humble opinion). That same professor mentioned that Gaiman was best known for his Sandman books, which I checked out all of at the public library the next time I went home on break.

He has said himself that he can't identify the genre for his books, because he didn't write them with a genre in mind. He just... wrote them. If pressed to categorize them, I would call them fantasy, for the most part. Gods and demons and other supernatural entities mingle with humans, other worlds exist right next to our own, and sometimes very out-of-the-ordinary things happen. Gaiman sees things in a beautifully different way and can find and arrange the words he needs to describe them that way.

My favorite author is actually identifies as a YA author, though he has written adult novels (and honestly, I wish he would write more because The Risen Empire books are some of my favorites by him.)  Scott Westerfeld is a man I love, respect and I think is doing a lot for the YA world.

I was first introduced to him in the same adolescent literature class that Alex took (I just took it a different semester than she did.  Thus, I read Coraline, not Mirrormask that semester.  But really, it was the professor in that class that made us fall in love with the books, I feel.)  We read Peeps, which is still my favorite book by him.  It's a vampire novel, technically, but it's done like no other vampire novel I've ever read.  He incorporates science with his lore in such a way that has you wondering why everyone else is even bothering with their stupid vampire novel.  I also like it because he's pushing the boundaries of YA literature.  The main character is 19 and living in NYC.  Technically, an adolescent but different than most because he's very independent compared to most protagonists in YA literature.

He most recently finished the Leviathan series, which combines science with steam punk and history.  He essentially takes World War I and shows us what it would be like if we had slightly different technologies at the time.  Again, Westerfeld pushes boundaries.  We have cross-dressing and two lost kids, from completely different backgrounds, just trying to do what they want to do with their lives, because they think they way things are isn't right.  We also have young kids engaged in battle and war, something that's generally frowned upon.  

Westerfeld keeps a blog and is very interactive with his fans, which I think is great.  So often these days we see a lot of entitled authors who think that they deserve their fans or they don't deserve to get harsh reviews.  That's completely untrue.  You are an author at the mercy of the public.  Westerfeld understands that and embraces that.  He also loves things like Fan Fiction and Fan Art.  In fact, on his blog, he has Fan Art Fridays, where he posts pictures fans have sent him.  They might have drawn his characters, or taken a picture of themselves cos-playing or one fan even did a mock-up of a computer program he mentions in his book.  I just love that kind of interaction and dedication to his fans.  He shows a good example to other YA authors, I feel, and I really love his work. 

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