Hi! Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads. This week’s theme is: Authors You’d Want to Write Like. The reason I admire the writers on this list is that their style is so distinctly their own and that’s what I aspire to as a writer as well. So I wouldn’t say I want to write like these authors, but ‘half as well as’ would be nice.
5. Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is a many, many, many times award winning Canadian author who’s published more than 50 works including The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Alias Grace (1996) and The Blind Assassin (2000).
Atwood is a master of her craft. But what makes her writing so special to me is her unique ability to twist the familiar into something strange and alter your perspective.
“All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel.
All of them?
Sure, he says. Think about it. There’s escaping from the wolves, fighting the wolves, capturing the wolves, taming the wolves. Being thrown to the wolves, or throwing others to the wolves so the wolves will eat them instead of you. Running with the wolf pack. Turning into a wolf. Best of all, turning into the head wolf. No other decent stories exist.”
4. Arundathi Roy
Arundhati Roy is an Indian writer and activist. She’s written several non-fiction books and two novels: The God of Small Things (1997) and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017). The Good of Small Things won the Man Booker Award in 1997.
Roy’s prose is in a class of it’s own. It’s stunningly original and very musical. She always reminds of the importance of rhythm.
The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic.
3. Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit is an American author and activist who’s best known for her essay collections Men Explain Things to Me (2014), The Faraway Nearby (2013) and A Field Guide to Getting Lost (2005).
Solnit’s writing is so insightful, deep and full of wonder. She has a way of making the abstract concrete and the concrete abstract that I’m forever in awe of.
Listen: you are not yourself, you are crowds of others, you are as leaky a vessel as was ever made, you have spent vast amounts of your life as someone else, as people who died long ago, as people who never lived, as strangers you never met. The usual I we are given has all the tidy containment of the kind of character the realist novel specializes in and none of the porousness of our every waking moment, the loose threads, the strange dreams, the forgettings and misrememberings, the portions of a life lived through others’ stories, the incoherence and inconsistency, the pantheon of dei ex machina and the companionability of ghosts. There are other ways of telling.
2. Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor is an American writer of YA Fantasy novels including Strange the Dreamer (2017) ) and The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.
Laini Taylor is the Queen of world-building. Whether she’s describing a fantastical world of her own creation, the mountains of Morocco or the streets of Prague I always feel like I’m right there. I wish I had half her talent for description.
The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Motzart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.
1. Catherynne M. Valente
Catherynne M. Valente is an American author of several SFF titles for children and adults including The Fairyland Series, Deathless (2011) and Radiance (2015). She’s also written poetry, short-stories and non-fiction.
I’m convinced Valente hasn’t written a boring sentence in her life. Her prose is more spectacular than a firework display and I love it.
“The old order, it is good for the old. A farmer wants his son to be afraid of beautiful women, so that he will not leave home too soon, so he tells a story about how one drowned his brother’s cousin’s friend in a lake, not because he was a pig who deserved to be drowned, but because beautiful women are bad, and also witches. And it doesn’t matter that she didn’t ask to be beautiful, or to be born in a lake, or to live forever, or to not know how men breathe until they stop doing it.”
What writers would you like to write like? Do you have any favorite quotes to share?