Friday, 5 April 2013

Author Daisy-Chain (Or How to Find Great Writers)

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Haven't heard of an Author Daisy-Chain before? Where have you been?! Okay, so maybe I made it up.

au·thor dai·sy chain

  • when someone gets you started on an author (who you LOVE), and then you find out which writer inspired that writer, and then you find out what books that next writer loved, and so on.

So you see, each book and author links on to another, in my little daisy-chain. Potentially, an author daisy-chain could go back and back through time until we're getting into cave paintings, but really, who has time to do that?

This is my first.

Daisy-chain Start - Sarah Wendell

I'm an immense fan of Sarah Wendell of 'Smart Bitches, Trashy Books' fame. Hilarious, caustic, down-to-earth, I have spent many enjoyable moments following her on twitter or reading the website blog. That and I have a growing appreciation for Jewish food. No idea why.

Having just removed yet another hopeless attempt at literature from my Kindle, I turned to the reviewers of Smart Bitches and vowed to ONLY read the 'A' rated reviews. No more poor quality offerings for me! I wanted a real book. And sure enough, I soon turned up a review of a Susanna Kearsley book, and I was off.

(I will note here that I'd previously noticed Kearsley's recent covers and sorely coveted them - they are GORGEOUS. I believe the artist responsible for that is Susan Zucker.)

My little daisy-chain...

Daisy-chain, Step 2 - Susanna Kearsley

Suffice it to say I consumed Firebird by Susanna Kearsley within two days and was soon hunting for more quality fodder for my newly whetted reading appetite  Reading up about Kearsley on her website, she mentioned how influenced she was as a young person by Mary Stewart's books. Who on earth is Mary Stewart? Never heard of her before now. Okay, off I went with a new name in my head and a hungry-reader brain.

Daisy-chain, Step 3 - Mary Stewart

So I'm waiting for the bus on the way home from work, and I wander into one of the nearby charity (second-hand) shops. Browsing through the shelves doesn't turn up any stray Kearsley titles to satisfy the glom I was craving. But there, on the shelf was a Mary Stewart book, Airs Above the Ground. Only £2? Involves dancing white horses?! SOLD.

Daisy-china, Step 4 - Hans Christian Andersen

Okay, by now I was getting rather intrigued. So who would be on Mary's long-loved list? Which great brain would she attribute her writing success to? I searched everywhere I could, but the interwebs failed to reveal to me her influences. Until, that is, I found an interview with her (beware, 'tis deeply '80s in style) in her later years. Lo and behold, she talks about what inspired her to start telling and writing stories as a child: fairy tales. Of course. Specifically, Hans Christian Andersen.

So this is as far as my daisy-chain has gotten for now. Maybe I can dig through the formative years of Mr Andersen (no, not Neo from the Matrix, film nerds) and find my next little daisy stepping stone.

In the meantime, I have three authors' back catalogues to sift through for quality reading fare. Or I might just start a new chain!

What great authors have you found through other authors?

Smart Bitches website:
Susanna Kearsley website:
Mary Stewart fan-site:
The Hans Christian Andersen Centre:
How to Make a Daisy Chain (a REAL one):

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