Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Disappointing authors

Have you liked an author in the past who now consistently disappoints you?

I have respect for an author who develops a character and writes a series that keeps readers interested and wanting more. If an occasional book feels less engaging to me, I don't criticize. For one thing, maybe it was just me and most readers thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

Years ago, a friend told me to read Chiefs by Stuart Woods. I had seen his name all over the paperback best sellers bookshelves but never read any of his books. I checked Chiefs out of the library and really enjoyed it. I mentioned the book to another friend who had a box of his paperbacks, all of the Stone Barrington series. Woods now writes three or four different series with occasional cross-over characters. I sorted the books in chronological order and began reading. I liked the first books. Then sex became a major part of each book. Now his books are, in my opinion, a poor parody of anything he ever wrote that was well done.

It isn't that there is sex in the story line that has nothing to do with the plot. It is that every woman Stone Barrington encounters is thin, gorgeous, wealthy, talented and drops every article of her clothing within 24 hours of meeting him. Perhaps Woods thinks this a tribute to women, portraying them in such a "positive" light. I am fine with escapist fiction. For instance, I love the Stephanie Plum series.

Perhaps if Woods did not take a condescending tone with his readers in the author's note that appears at the end of each of his novels, I wouldn't be writing about him at all. Like much of our dealings in our everyday lives, it isn't the message you deliver, but how you say it.

On the positive side, there are authors whose books I know I will enjoy. They may not be block busters, but the characters are like old friends and I like to catch up with their lives. In no particular order, I enjoy

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels
Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street books
Monica Ferris' Betsy Devonshire/Crewel World mysteries
Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone alphabet mysteries
Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilters series
Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Schulz catering mysteries
Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson cookie mysteries
Ann B. Ross's Miss Julia series
Jan Karon's Mitford books
Earlene Fowler's Benni Harper books
Annie Griffin's Hannah and Kiki books
Anne George's Sister and Mouse books
and anything by Billie Letts and Fannie Flagg

Not to exclude male authors, I like the Alex Cross books by James Patterson, Lou Boldt books by Ridley Pearson, the Prey series (Lucas Davenport) by John Sandford and Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz.

The greater number of female authors wasn't a conscious choice, but their characters, being women, are more identifiable.

Which authors or types of books call to you, and what do you tend to avoid?

5 comments:

Blondie's Journal said...

Knitty,

You gave me a lot of food for thought. I think sometimes when an author has a bestseller, they have the pressure of their editor or publisher to keep churning the books out or to make them more consumer~friendly, i.e., sex, perfect people... so I don't always think it is the authors fault.

Something I don't like and I see a lot, is when an author is so busy plowing along from beginning to end of writing a book and never develops the character well. For instance, Sue Grafton. I love Kinsey Millhone and I can see her in my mind's eye (and I think Sandra Bullock could play her in a movie!). This is what I like to see. However, once I was reading a James Patterson novel and his heroine started out with blue eyes and ended up with brown! Great! How much thought went in to that book? And I think he churns out 3 books a year!!

Well, I think I went on a tirade. You brought up a great subject and I hope you get a lot of responses!

xoxo
Jane

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

You mentioned James Patterson. I read one of his books and I liked it. Then I read Kiss the Girls. The milk enema/snake scene freaked me out for weeks and weeks. I will never pick up another of his books.

One of my very favorite authors is Nevada Barr. She is a real life National Park Ranger. Each of her books are set in a different National Park. They are who did it murder mysteries.

Shirl said...

Hello, I'm still making my Blue Monday visits. Thank you so much for stopping by. I love your dishes and blue table runner. I scrolled your blog and love it. Yes I do find the same thing with authors at times. I just got a book today that is supposed to be so good. It has been passed around Bible Study for a month now. It's called "The Shack". Can't wait to read it.
Bless you, Shirl
Shirls Rose Cottage

andrea said...

I love to read, so there isn't much I won't try. I tend to look at People Magazine's top picks and buy those books - I haven't been disappointed yet.
I enjoy Jodi Picoult; I find that I am always surprised at the twist in the endings of her books.
I tend to enjoy books that are based on real life things that could actually happen - nothing "sappy" like Danielle Steele where everyone is involved in some type of tragic love story.

Smilingsal said...

Angela Hunt will never disappoint.