Sunday, July 8, 2012

TSS: Literary Heroes

The Sunday

Guten Morgen, Sunday Saloners. I'm doing more of these posts lately, are you proud of me? You should be. It's finally July (I know we're a week in already, but to post this in the first week of July I would have had to write it in June, and I'm superstitious about celebrating that something's over before it actually is), and I think hope that the dog days of summer are finally past. It seemed like June would never end. My mom has a magnet that says, "Time flies whether you're having fun or not," and that might be true, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. What with wildfires, the absolute worst class I've ever had to teach in my entire life, and 14 straight days of 100+ degree temperatures, I'm just happy the month is over.

Today I want to talk about your first literary heroes. I'm not talking about the heroes of the books, but rather the people who write them. Right now I'm rereading Wait for What Will Come by Barbara Michaels, who was the first author I really glommed onto as a kid. My mom has tons of her books and I worked my way through them all during fifth and sixth grades. She's also the first author I wrote to. Basically, when I was a teenager, I aspired to be half as good a writer as Barbara Michaels.

But sometimes I wonder if my view of Barbara Michaels as The Greatest is really fair. For one, she basically wrote the same story over and over: young woman goes to a spooky old house, is threatened by mysterious people in a supernatural guise, falls in love with a mysterious man who might be a danger to her, and along the way learns about history. Of course, the stories vary from book to book, and to me--who loves reading genre fiction and seeing variations on a formula--this is what makes them interesting. I guess what concerns me is the idea that Michaels was selling out--rewriting the same book because she knew it would sell. On the one hand, they are good books; on the other hand, why so little variation? Two, she seems determined to under play the romantic element of her novels even though they ARE romantic novels and the romance is the only interesting thing going on! And three--is just me, or does every character have some connection to Sir John Smythe?

My point is on some level I know there are (probably) better writers out there, but because Michaels made such an impression on me as a kid, she set the standard for authors who are my literary heroes.

Who were some of your first literary heroes, and do you still think of them in same way?


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