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Top Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet

Commenter Joy Tamsin David recently posted her Top Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet. It’s part of a meme that made the rounds this week and it got me thinking about writers I’d love to chat with / debate / steal ideas from. The following folks intrigue me for various reasons, most because of their craft, some because of their life / publishing experiences, many for the complexity of their beliefs. I have included only living authors (mainly because speaking to Howard Lovecraft seems kinda creepy). If you don’t find yourself listed here, my apologies. I would still love to sit down with you, drink coffee, talk, laugh, and steal your ideas.

RAY BRADBURY — Author of  The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Perhaps more than any other writer, Bradbury inspired me to want to write.

ANNIE DILLARD — Author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and The Writing Life. For demonstrating what creative non-fiction can be. Have I ever really stopped thinking about For the Time Being?

DEAN KOONTZ — Author of Watchers, Midnight, and Odd Thomas. Koontz’s philosophical / religious / scientific noodling, and his sense of humor, are refreshing. Dear Dean, What’s the secret to writing five books a year?

ALAN MOORE — Author of Watchmen and V is For Vendetta. Moore is a known Neopagan, occultist, ceremonial magician, and anarchist who worships a snake god named Glycon. Oh, and he doesn’t cut his hair.

TOSCA LEE — Author of Demon: A Memoir and Havah. Lee’s a wordsmith, her characters are realistic, and she’s not afraid to trod sacred / controversial ground. And, yes, she’s got panache.

STEPHEN KING — Author of The Shining, the Stand, and Salem’s Lot. Any writer who wouldn’t want to meet King should rethink their calling.

FREDERICK BUECHNER — Author of Wishful Thinking, Brenden: A Novel, and A Room Called Remember. Buechner is a contemplative, so meeting at Starbucks would be out of the question. Godric remains one of my all-time favorite books.

T.L. HINES — Author of Waking Lazarus, Faces in the Fire, and The Falling Away. I’m as intrigued by Hine’s life-experience as a cancer survivor as I am his publishing arc and his integration of faith and fiction. Plus, any author that uses his initials for his published name gets points.

JOYCE CAROL OATES — Author of over 50 novels, National Book Award winner, and Pulitzer nominee. For literary depth, breadth, and versatility. Is there anything the Grande Dame of the New Gothic can’t write? She scares me… in a good way.

NEIL GAIMAN — Author of Neverwhere and American Gods. Now a pop cultural icon, on the cutting edge of speculative fiction. I’m fascinated by Lewis and Chesterton’s early influence upon Gaiman, but even more fascinated by why he lives in Minnesota.

So there you have it! What authors would you like to meet and why? Have a great weekend!


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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Morgan Busse July 15, 2011, 8:20 AM

    I like your list. Might have to steal this idea and use it on my own blog 🙂

  • Erica Vetsch July 15, 2011, 8:42 AM

    I would love to listen to Stephen King do a live reading of On Writing. How amazing would that be?

    • Will Granger July 16, 2011, 9:29 PM

      I use On Writing all the time with my advanced high school students, and I also think about his suggestions when I write my own books and stories. I always tell myself to be honest and to get rid of those adverbs and adjectives.

  • Jessica Thomas July 15, 2011, 9:00 AM

    My short list in no certain order:

    Philip K. Dick – Favorite scifi author by far. Love his short, succinct style of story telling.
    Anne Tyler – Simply an amazing writer.
    Shel Silverstein – Childhood favorite, inspired me to write.
    J.D Salinger – Cather in the Rye, one of my all time favorite books. Best example of stream of consciousness.
    Rod Serling – Twilight Zone junky at an early age. Piqued my interest in all things speculative.

    • Mike Duran July 15, 2011, 11:04 AM

      I would love to chat with Serling, Jessica. Twilight Zone was a huge part of my childhood. We would have to find a No Smoking venue, however. Dude smoked like a chimney.

  • Tony July 15, 2011, 9:44 AM

    Dean Koontz.

    The one author I MUST meet before I die is Dean Koontz. He’s my hero. Definitely. Just seems like all-around nice guy. Awkward. And hilarious. Gotta love him.

    I’d like to meet R.L. Stine, and King, and Peretti. . .but mostly, Dean Koontz.

  • Bruce Hennigan July 15, 2011, 10:29 AM

    I met Ray Bradbury, my childhood icon for science fiction and fantasy at BEA 2008. He was kind, deferential, and hates e-books!
    At that same BEA I met another of my favorite mystery writers, Robert Crais and spent a few minutes talking about Louisiana (he is from there) and the LSU Tigers. He signed his book “Geaux Tigers!”.
    I also met Leonard Nimoy and did not realize he was an author. The book he was pushing that years was a photographic album dedicated to “large, nude women”. Interesting! They ran out of copies before I could get one but I did get to speak to Leonard Nimoy and get his autograph.
    Least favorite author that year, Alec Baldwin. He was signing, of all things, a book on parenting and I have a story about him that I can’t share in this forum because of the language he used!

  • Sherry Thompson July 15, 2011, 10:53 AM

    The authors I’d most love to meet are all dead:
    C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, JRR Tolkien, George MacDonald, Diana Wynne Jones, Madeleine l’Engle, Tony Hillerman, and probably a few more I’ve forgotten.

    Still alive? Ray Bradbury, Barbara Hambly, Elizabeth Peters (who just wrote “A River in the Sky”, which takes place in Israel at the turn of the century). Plus many members of the Lost Genre Guild. And others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

    The person I have no desire to meet? Neil Gaiman.
    I met him once at a conference and was appalled at his casual attitude toward the existence of God and his own chances for salvation. He said that in his view there were three possibilities: God existed but was totally benign and wouldn’t send anyone to hell, God didn’t exist so when he died, he wouldn’t exist but wouldn’t know that, God existed in the Christian sense and would probably dam,n him for in unbelief. He added to the effect, I like those odds: two out of three I’m golden; one in three that I’m screwed.
    I’d only want to meet him again, if I thought I’d have a two out of three chance I could talk him into accepting Christ.

    Sherry Thompson

    • Mike Duran July 15, 2011, 11:00 AM

      “The person I have no desire to meet? Neil Gaiman. I met him once at a conference and was appalled at his casual attitude toward the existence of God and his own chances for salvation.”

      Sherry, this makes Gaiman even more interesting to me. I am fascinated by speculative authors and their view of reality. Plus, I know he has a background in Scientology.

  • Greg Mitchell July 15, 2011, 10:58 AM

    Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury, for sure.

  • John Robinson July 15, 2011, 1:42 PM

    Dean Koontz
    Flannery O’Connor
    Mark Twain
    Robert Crais
    Nelson DeMille
    Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (does that count as one or two?)
    Ray Bradbury (“The October Game” first ignited my desire to write)
    Clifford D. Simak
    H.P. Lovecraft
    Charles Dickens
    and a rather hirsute writer by the name of Mike Duran *s*

  • Kevin Lucia July 15, 2011, 2:42 PM

    I’ve met that Tosca Lee character. She’s a rascal, that one.

    Ray Bradbury – I spoke with his agent once. That was the closest I got.

    Stephen King – I did, however, met his son Joe Hill. Wonderful guy. Very funny, very relaxed and humble.

    Dean Koontz – For all the obvious reasons.

    Neil Gaiman – Don’t care a whit about his theology. Just love his work.

    T. L. Hines Tony was one of the first authors I ever approached for advice, so I’d love to meet him. Love his work, too.

    Robert Liparulo Ditto.

    Peter Straub Spoke to him on a radio show once. Would love to meet him, would probably act like an idiot.

    Robert McCammon Would like to shake his hand and say: “THANK YOU for Boy’s Life.

    Travis Thrasher Love his work, and he just seems like a great guy. Also seems like we might share a similar sense of humor.

    T. M. Wright Love his “quiet horror”, and he seems like a wonderful person.

    I was going to put Charles Grant, but he’s passed on, so…

  • Kevin Lucia July 15, 2011, 3:03 PM

    This is eleven, but can’t believe I forgot:

    Norman Partridge – Writes whatever he wants. Period. Crime. Horror. Noir. Dark fantasy. And he’s given lots of great advice this past year.

    • Mike Duran July 15, 2011, 4:07 PM

      Kevin, I read Partridge’s Dark Harvest several years ago and really liked it. I’ve been meaning to read something else by him.

      • Kevin Lucia July 15, 2011, 4:33 PM

        He’s very diverse. A real genre blender. And he’s been great to chat with the past year.

  • Cory Clubb July 15, 2011, 3:52 PM

    Nice post and nice list!
    Here are few I’d like to chat with.

    Stephen King – The Master and who wouldn’t?
    Neil Gaiman – Pretty much the other Master just a hop over the pond.
    Christopher Nolan – In my opinion he has the best twists and vision. Would love to run around in his mind!
    Dean Koontz – As a writer he almost has to be on any list.
    J.J. Abrams – His style and approach to storytelling is on a grand scale, but with the simplest twists.

    I’ve taken a writing course with Travis Thrasher and he is hilarious. Great guy too. I have also had the pleasure of learning under Steven James, who has a Masters in storytelling = totally awesome.

    In August I’ll be attending The Ragged Edge Conference where I’ll be privileged enough to learn craft secrets from Ted Dekker, Eric Wilson, Tosca Lee, Steven James, and Robert Liparulo. I’m sure it will be unforgettable.

  • Bob Avey July 16, 2011, 9:13 AM

    Many of the top 10 authors you mentioned, are favorites of mine. I was about to give up on Stephen King, but then read Duma Key. I know this is not a new book, but it is well written, clasic King. Anything Dean Koontz writes captivates me.

  • Marion July 16, 2011, 1:18 PM

    My top ten authors to meet:

    1) Mark Helprin: Anyone who wrote Winter’s Tale and Solider of the Great War (2 of my all-time favorite books) would be interesting to meet.

    2) Dean Koontz: Like mostly everyone so far. Excellent storyteller…love to pick his brain.

    3) John Grisham: I was not a huge fan until I read the Testament. Change my mind about him. Love to find what made him write that novel.

    4) Charles DeLint: While his theology is more into Native American and Celtic Spirituality….he writes good stories and the fictional city of Newford has been interesting to read over the years.

    5) Octavia Butler: (she is no longer here) But I would have like to met her and asked what made her decide to write science fiction.

    6) Cormac McCarthy: Enjoyed reading his Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and the Cities of the Plain) and one of these days I will have to read, Blood Meridian.

    7) Gene Wolfe: Anyone who wrote The Book of the New Sun Series and the Book of the Long Sun Series would be fascinating to pick their brain.

    8) Ralph Ellison: (I know he’s no longer here, either) To ask what went into writing “Invisible Man” and would he write the book differently if it was published now.

    9) Gabriel Garcia Marquez: To ask why did you use same name for every character in One Hundred Years of Solitude? LOL!! An interesting book…but keeping up with those characters was challenging.

    10) Mario Vargas Llosa: What made you change from being a Liberal to a Conservative? Did your novels have anything to do with that? Would be interesting to find out.

  • Katherine Coble July 16, 2011, 1:48 PM

    1. Moses
    Yes, he transcribed the words of God. But still.

    2. Luke
    Ditto. But given my fascination with medical people who write, I’d just love to hear what he had to say about his life.

    3. Jo Rowling
    Love her. Love the feeling of kindredness I pick up from her.

    4. George RR Martin
    Wanna dine on meat and mead with this fascinating fellow

    5. Madge Piercy
    When you write the best feminist novel of WW 2 ever, then I definitely wanna hang with you.

    6. Herman Wouk
    Best novels of WW2, period.

    7. JD Salinger

    I want him to tell me how to convince the multitudes that grumpy, self-centered, horrible stories are actually “genius”.

    8. Pat Conroy

    His written words sing.

    9. TS Eliot

    My Guardian Angel. We will play poker in heaven, Tom and I. We will talk of murdered priests and pussycats. Of desert and April rain and the language of thunder.

    10. Chaim Potok

    Blessed man, writer of some of the most moving stories of how genius and faith meet and marry.

  • Bruce Hennigan July 16, 2011, 1:51 PM

    Just remembered one of my newer authors I discovered about a year ago (Besides Tosca Lee who I would love to meet!!!) William Kent Kreuger who writes some very moving and touching mysteries and the main character is a Christian struggling with God’s will in his life. The book is not Christian fiction, but it is so redemptive. I’d love to meet him and have coffee with him.

  • Will Granger July 16, 2011, 9:49 PM

    Great lists!

    1. King – how does he keep doing it? I would tell him I didn’t like the endings of Cell and Under the Dome
    2. Tom Wolfe – Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full are two of my favorites.
    3. Jack London – Simply to thank him for The Call of the Wild.
    4. James Michener – Chesapeake and Alaska are truly great.
    5. Orwell – for his creativity and strong stand.
    6. Tolkien – I want to create my own worlds in my stories.
    7. Doug Clapp – Wrote a little-known book titled Macintosh Complete. If you use a Mac, you should find a copy, and see how Apple has stayed true to its roots.
    8. J.K. Rowling – to thank her for helping my sons become good readers and writers.
    9. Truman Capote – A non-fiction master, and I’ll bet he would be hilarious.
    10 Kurt Vonnegut – I want to read all his books.

  • Scathe meic Beorh June 6, 2012, 6:24 PM

    Ray Bradbury, gone home, June 5th, 2012

    We will all miss you.


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