[personal profile] sartorias aka Sherwood Smith has a fascinating discussion going over on her LJ about when you only like one (or, if they're prolific, two or three) of an author's works and bounce off the rest. So far the responses have mostly been people commisserating and sharing which authors and which books affected them this way, but there's also been some discussion of why this happens.

I don't think there's any one answer to that question myself -- the reasons are as diverse as the individual readers. Sometimes the author undergoes an ideological or philosophical transformation between books (or even just becomes bolder about expressing the views they already had) which leads to a irreconcilable conflict of my thinking and theirs, or pushes my tolerance for those differences over the limit. (See: Philip Pullman.) Sometimes it turns out that the things I loved best about the author's first book -- the style, the tone, the atmosphere -- don't carry over into subsequent novels because they were a feature of that story, not the author's writing as a whole (such as Beagle's The Last Unicorn, which I mentioned in the comments of Sherwood's post). And sometimes I eagerly expect certain things from a series or sequel to a book I really loved, only to find that the author had a completely different plan and veers off in a direction that doesn't interest me at all (I've heard several readers say this about Maria Snyder's Study books, for instance).

Then there's the rarer phenomenon when you love an author's prose but not their poetry (or essays, or what-have-you); or you think them brilliant scriptwriters (or lyricists) but terrible novelists, or the other way around. The ability to put together words in an arrangement that pleases you in one medium doesn't always carry over to others, and that can cause this kind of dissonance as well.

What about you? If you have a much-loved book or books by a certain author but found that most or all of their other works left you cold, what were your reasons for feeling that way? Feel free to comment on either my post or [personal profile] sartorias's as it pleases you; I'll see it in either case.
I've been thinking about authors I love and author blogs I love, and how surprisingly little overlap there seems to be between the two.

When I look at the list of the (many) author blogs I follow, not all of them are written by authors whose books I've enjoyed. Some are written by authors whose books I've never read; others are written by authors whose books I found disappointing or even outright disliked. Nevertheless, I find their blogs to be engaging, interesting, funny or otherwise enjoyable, so I keep following them.

Here are some positive qualities I've noticed in the author blogs I follow:

- A great sense of humor.

- Links to other sites and articles of interest.

- Thoughtful posts about the writing and reading processes which are not just limited to the author's own work.

- Evidence that this author is part of a larger creative community -- they're responding to blogs written by others, and sincerely recommending, reviewing and promoting other authors' work even when it obviously isn't going to benefit them personally.

- Interaction with commenters -- proving that the author is actually interested in some social and intellectual give-and-take, rather than just standing on a soapbox.

On the other hand, there have been a few occasions where I discovered a much-loved author blogging and have leaped to add them to my reading list -- only to change my mind a few months later and take them off again because their blogging style and content were so tedious that it was spoiling my enjoyment of their books.

Here are some of the reasons I've taken author blogs off my list:

- Entry after entry describing routine events in their day, usually in mind-numbing detail ("So I got up and had breakfast, and then I took the dog out for a walk, and then I came home and cleaned the toilet...")

- At least 50% of the posts are about their pets and/or their children, and they're written in a way which is neither funny nor otherwise creative. Sorry, I like kids and animals as much as the next person, but I am really not that interested in hearing about the cute little booties you bought for your poodle, or how you put a bandage on Little Johnny's scraped knee.

- The majority of posts are political. Some people consider this a feature; for me, it's a bug. I don't even care which side of the political arena you're on, I'm just not interested.

- The blog is mainly self-promotion -- just keeping a record of their own accomplishments, awards, and public appearances, as opposed to any content which might be of interest to writers and readers generally.

- They write incredibly long, rambling posts with terrible formatting, and never use cut tags.

I'm not objecting to occasional mentions of daily life or pets or kids or politics or self-promo stuff. All these things are perfectly legit in small doses, but if any or all of them become the dominant trend, I'm out of there.

What about you? What do you like/not like to see in an author's blog? And what author blogs are your personal favorites?
I have never actually read a Dean Koontz novel, but after reading this fantastic interview I think I may love him just a little. This bit especially thrilled my soul:

I work 10- and 11-hour days because in long sessions I fall away more completely into story and characters than I would in, say, a six-hour day. On good days, I might wind up with five or six pages of finished work; on bad days, a third of a page. Even five or six is not a high rate of production for a 10- or 11-hour day, but there are more good days than bad.

This guy has written how many books? And they've sold how many copies? And he writes the way I do -- revising and polishing obsessively as he goes, so that by the time he's finished a book he's really done the equivalent of thirty or forty drafts. I may not be able to write 10- and 11-hour days, or even six-hour ones, but still, like he goes on to say, if you keep at it steadily the work adds up.

He also has some wonderful things to say about theme, characterization, and using metaphors and similes that I found very encouraging.

Anyway, his comments about the books he's written make me realize that he must be a far better prose stylist, and more of a challenging read (in the good way) than I'd imagined. Next time I go to the library, I'll have to check him out.


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