In a continuation of my “birthdays of authors you might enjoy” series, I’m bringing you two author birthdays: one for May and a bonus April author. (As usual, I’m featuring authors whose work you should be able to find in a library, but I’m also including affiliate links to Amazon if you want to check out the books there.)
For May, I’m picking Susan Cooper. She’s most well-known as a children’s fantasy author.
- Born: May 23
- Reason I chose her: Her The Dark Is Rising series was my first experience with the power that a really good fantasy can have to enchant a reader—and the heartbreak of not being able to finish a great story.
At around age 9, I found a book in the series in my elementary school library. The Grey King was delicious: exciting, mysterious, magical—just breathtaking. I’d never read anything like it.
Unfortunately, my school was teeny tiny—two walls of the cafeteria doubled as our school library—so I only got to read the one book.
The town library didn’t have the rest of the series either.
This was back in the pre-Internet Dark Ages, back even before libraries networked with each other, and way before Amazon. So I couldn’t get my hands on the rest of the series, and I had to leave the story there. It sucked.
Of course, I moved on to other books and series. But for decades, that book lurked in the back of my mind. Then a few years ago, they made a movie of the series (which I do not recommend) and all of a sudden I remembered how much I loved that book. Finally, I read the whole series. It was worth the wait.
- Fun fact 1: She went to Oxford at a time when J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were both teaching there.
- Fun fact 2: In addition to being a successful fantasy author, she’s an accomplished poet, playwright, and screenwriter.
- Work of hers I recommend you start with: Although The Dark Is Rising series is technically a children’s series, I read most of them as an adult, and I loved them. I would start with book 1, Over Sea, Under Stone.
My bonus April author is Rachel Caine (pen name for Roxanne Longstreet Conrad). She wrote all the things: urban fantasy, science fiction, adult thriller, YA, etc.
- Born: April 27
- Reason I chose her: Well one, she’s awesome. But I chose her now to honor her memory. This past April 27th was her first birthday since her death (cancer, last November). Unbeknownst to her, she inspired me. She helped me to believe that I could actually do this urban fantasy writing thing.
I came across her Weather Warden urban fantasy series at a time when I was tiptoeing around the idea of becoming an urban fantasy author. I was at a point where I was starting to research urban fantasy authors and their careers, and to my surprise, I found that Rachel Caine didn’t live that far from me. It somehow made her more real to me—not some mythic famous author, but a real person, in driving distance, actually doing the thing I was trying to drum up the courage to do myself. It made it seem more plausible, more possible that I could maybe be a writer too.
Over the years, I followed her career and read more and more of her stuff. She was incredibly prolific—she’s got over 50 books published—and is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller. For more than a decade, I’ve been over here cheering her career from my small corner of the world, hoping one day that I could meet her and tell her how she’s inspired me.
Sadly, I’m not going to have that chance. But, I can still honor her by sharing her work with others.
- Fun fact 1: Her Morganville Vampires series was made into a Web series, starring Amber Benson (a Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum and fellow writer) and Robert Picardo (you might know him as the holographic doctor in the Star Trek series Voyager). You can read about the web series here.
- Fun fact 2: She co-wrote a true crime podcast called Dead Air.
- Work of hers I recommend you start with: I’m having a hard time picking just one—it depends what you’re into. If you want urban fantasy fun, I recommend checking out the first book of the Weather Warden series, Ill Wind. If you’re into alternate history fantasy, I just finished The Great Library series and loved it—book 1 is Ink and Bone. If you like YA vampires, go with the first book in the Morganville series, Glass Houses. Her Stillhouse Lake series is also a huge hit. I haven’t read it yet, but if you’re into thrillers, you might want to check it out.
Have you read either author? What did you think?