There are a handful of authors who I just read. If I see that they have a new book out, I put it on my TBR. I have read the majority of the work that these authors have produced. If I discovered them after they had written some stuff, I immediately go to their archives. These are my go to authors:
- Jane Green
- Jennifer Weiner
- Jane Austen (eagerly awaiting her next book- hopefully a sequel…)
- Susan Isaacs
- Liane Moriarty
- The Bronte Sisters
- Agatha Christie (Sophie Hannah has taken to writing Poirot novels)
- Mary Kay Andrews
- Dan Brown
- Claire Cook
- Emily Griffin
- Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway)
- Allison Pearson
- Graeme Simsion
So happily ever after, right?
Well- not so much. Because all is not exactly as it seems.
Take Emily Griffin. I have loved her books for years. I would see an author alert and I would immediately get excited about reading her next. Until this year. This year I read the blurb about her new book and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. The subject matter was about a high school girl who sends compromising photos of herself and it becomes a scandal. As the parent of a teenage girl this is my worst nightmare. I spend every day hoping that my daughter is strong enough to not engage in this activity. The problem I’m seeing is that there are a lot of parents who think that nudish selfies are just something to be expected- that it’s no big deal. Yeah- I think you know what my thoughts are on that… So I chose not to read this book, because I would rather spend my time talking to my daughter about the pitfalls of this situation rather than reading about it.
Jane Green. I have been reading her for years. Faithfully, often getting her new books on release date. But her past few novels…. She used to be funny and wise and real. Now I feel like she’s throwing a dart board at an issue and then writing a book around it. Her plots have become convoluted. I have always loved her characters because they are real, but the last few books have doted excessively on clothing. There was one book that painfully described every outfit the character wore…and every character in every book seems to have the same style. If you are going to talk about clothes- change it up. Not every heroine wears skirts and silk blouses.
Jennifer Weiner. Same basic issues. I fell in love with her early characters. They were quirky and charming. Now, they’re becoming caricatures. It’s like she reads a headline and says “There’s the next heroine of my books”.
And now I’m seeing it with Liane Moriarty. Say it isn’t so Liane. Write like you first wrote.
I think part of the problem is the stigma of “Chick Lit”. Now personally, and unapologetically, I love chick lit. Half of my reading is made up of chick lit. I like it because the characters are real and funny and charming and quirky. The situations they get into might be unbelievable, but I’m ok with the ride. I know exactly what I’m getting in chick lit and I’m more than OK with that.
I think every author wants to shed the banner of chick lit. I think they want to be thought of as serious- so they begin writing about more weighty topics. I get this- I really do. Chick lit has a bad banner over it- people think of it as trite. But, well done chick lit is perfection. Telling the story of a woman who isn’t sure how to get what she wants, and them watching her figure it out is wonderful. The dialogue in chick lit is great because it’s how actual people talk. There are people who think writing how people actually talk is easy: for those who say that, try it. Write a conversation using dialogue and nothing else and see how easy it is to make it sound read and alive. And then say I’m sorry to all the authors that you have dismissed.
Here’s my thoughts: right the best book that you can. Write the book that’s inside you. Don’t worry about critics. Don’t worry that you should be writing “stronger”. Just write your book.
Which authors do you love, and have you been disappointed in them as years have gone by?