Sunday, January 13, 2008

Authors' personalities: What kind of people do you think your favorite writers are?

After the high seriousness of recent Detectives Beyond Borders posts, today I offer an agreeable parlor game. Your job is to imagine what sorts of people your favorite authors are and to tell me why you guessed the way you did.

Was it something from their books? Something they did? Something they said in interview? To start you off, I'll tell you two of mine: I imagine Donald Westlake and Garry Disher to be intelligent and analytical, the former because of his plot experiments and his thoughtful comments about the state of popular culture, the latter because of the highly amusing deconstruction of detective stories in his own story"My Brother Jack."

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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Blogger Kerrie said...

I'm not sure if I can pick a favourite author. I have checked who I have read multiple titles of in the last 3 years (the extent of my database). I have chosen those where I have read 4 or more titles with one exception.
Mark Billingham (4); Stephen Booth (4); Simon Brett (8); Ann Cleeves (5); Karin Fossum (4); Tess Gerritsen (4); Robert Goddard (4); John Harvey (4); Reginald Hill (5); Arnaldur Indridason (4); Donna Leon (7); Peter Lovesey (5); Henning Mankell (4); Alexander McCall Smith (7); Ian Rankin (4); Ruth Rendell (5); Peter Robinson (4); Michael Robothom (3- but he's only written 3!!); Andrew Taylor (4); Colin Watson (4)
So I imagine that they are all nice people, but I suspect I would find some of them rather frightening in the flesh.
But the list tells you quite a bit about what I like to read doesn't it?
Can I just say too that I read my first Peter Lovesey back in 1970 with his first book WOBBLE TO DEATH with which he won a UK newspaper literary prize. I've always imagined he and I would get on like a house on fire - he was a secondary school teacher before he made a career in writing, and we are very close in age too.
Somebody I do get on well with is Michael Robotham who is a very gentle man, gently spoken (and younger than me!)

January 14, 2008  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I think that Andrea Camilleri was probably a very intense young man with ideas of equality and socialism. Now I suspect he has mellowed with the years and is more easy going and less dogmatic.
Or he has just become more cynical with age, or is that me?
His creation Montalbano still gets very annoyed at injustice, corruption and his incompetent superiors but is more inclined to accept it as being endemic in Italy.

January 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I imagine people like Reginald Hill might enjoy a teasing good joke from time to time!

January 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And yes, your list tells me you like psychologically oriented mysteries and also a touch of fun!

January 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, I've wondered from time to time about Camilleri. I have read that he was a Communist in his younger days, but that does not come through in his novels. Or rather if it does, it has mellowed into a general impatience with authority and a disgusted but resigned acceptance of corruption.

I think Montalbano has aged well -- becoming more tender in his feeling for Livia, for example, even as he grows more impatient.

January 14, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to think that all my favourite authors are genuinely charming people, kind to small puppies and kittens, generous with their time and their wisdom. Then again, we'd all probably get on better if they were vaguely disturbed, slightly suspicious, deeply embittered or at the very least slightly dotty. Only that way could they write the searing social commentary that I like and besides that - I wouldn't drink with one of those bright happy types if you paid me!

January 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm betting that writers, at least those who really write their own books, are better-adjusted than most of us and probably better adjusted than they'd like us to think they are. After all, it takes a lot of effort to follow through on a project as large as writing a novel. But industriousness lacks the glamour of, say, heavy drinking.

January 15, 2008  
Blogger Philip Amos said...

If I like a writer's crime novels, sooner or later I'm going to see what I can find out about the person. Interviews with Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, Ian Rankin, Peter Lovesey and Fred Vargas, to name just a few at the top of my list, gave me the distinct impression that these are people I should very much enjoy spending time with, very nice and very interesting. I haven't so far found any exceptions to this. I don't think that is any surprise -- particularly in this genre, certain qualities of the writer are very likely to manifest themselves in the writing, and if those qualities in the books appeal to us, so too will the writers. (Much harder to explain is that it one day occurred to me, after 50 years of listening to classical music, that the great musicians whose interpretations I most admire, were almost without exception eminently fine human beings.) But in one case, my pre-judgements were very wrong indeed. I was very curious about Carol O'Connell from the time I read her astonishing first novel, Mallory's Oracle. I got into my head from her novels, her photo and the lack of biographical detail on the jackets a vague idea of a rather remote person, even glacial, perhaps of independent means, living on the Upper East Side...then came the interview and I was hopelessly way off: a struggling artist who one day decided to try writing, very open, utterly without pretensions, and generally very appealing. She is, I think, one case in which the writing tells you nothing whatever about the writer.

January 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ye gods, this makes me morbidly curious to glance at the works of the one crime writer I can think of who strikes me as a miserable person.

From what I've read and heard about of Rankin, he seems a warm, humorous type. Having read three of his novels, this suprised me, (though there's no reason it should have). Warmth and humor are not prominent in the atmosphere of the Rebus books.

I did meet Håkan Nesser at a reading, and his public persona was just what I'd have expected, having read his sly, humorous books.

January 15, 2008  

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