Asking who my all-time favorite authors are would be like asking me to number the stars. But for this post, I’ll start small and give my reasons why.
First, there was Clair Bee, former coach, who wrote the Chip Hilton series of which I could never get enough. These stories all had a basic lesson and goodness at their core. I would skip school, feigning illness to stay home, to follow Chip and his friends through another adventure. Writing as a 61-year-old today, I often wonder what ever became of Chip, Speed, Taps, Biggie, Soapy, and Jimmy LuChung as they grew older, even though they were only fictional creations of a good writer.
At the same time in my life, there was the “conglomerate” of authors writing as Franklin W. Dixon which produced the Hardy Boys series. Predictable and simple as they were, I loved them and imagined myself writing stories for young people some day. I loved the stilted language and decorum of the period in which the books were written. Frank or Joe were always “ejaculating,” and not the way that word has come to mean, either.
Then came Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who introduced me to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson one cold winter while I was bedridden with a leg infection for several days. I had joined the Doubleday Book Club, where the fabulous deal included several books for something like 99 cents when agreeing to purchase a certain number of books within a year’s time. I thought that was a pretty neat thing! And so it was that the mysteries and adventures of the world’s most famous detective and his trusty companion came into my life and have remained forever. The game is always afoot!
Later on, in high school, I discovered Alistair MacLean and Hammond Innes, two Brits who wrote stories of intrigue and adventure. Campbell’s Kingdom still ranks right up there as a very favorite by Innes, and I re-read it just last year. MacLean’s The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare sit proudly on my shelves today along with When Eight Bells Toll.
I would include Mark Twain for giving me Tom and Huck and all of their adventures along that great river and the shady and seedy characters along the way. Life on the Mississippi is another favorite. I don’t much care for the later, jaded and cynical works, but I’m forever indebted to the humorous and fun Twain. His short stories, such as “Roughing It” were fun to read in class.
I have come to love Dickens for more than his standard “Scrooge” at Christmas time as well. I particularly love his characters and their many colorful and unique names: Murdstone, Heap, et al. I love reading about the dark underbelly of London and the wretched folks who move about in the fog and back alleys of the 19th Century. David Copperfield and Great Expectations remain my favorites.
So who would you say were your favorite authors–then and now? Drop me a line and tell me who and why.