Weekend Wonderings

I haven’t been able to write a good introduction to this week’s question, so I will skip straight to the question itself:

How much can we know about the author herself based on the content of the book?

People often make assumptions based on a book’s content about what the book’s author is like.  I once read a magazine article where a journalist was devastated when she went to interview an author and found out his book was not at all what she’d thought it was about when she read it.  She had thought it was an argument against child abuse; he hadn’t intended there to be any message about child abuse in it at all.  Other times, people think that if an artist or writer creates disturbing work, she must be disturbed herself.  What is it safe to assume about an author based on her work?  Does the book tell us nothing about the author?  Does an author’s personality shine through in the book?

Last Week’s Question
What is the recipe for good historical fiction?

You can read answers at Tea Cozy, Becky’s Book Reviews, Bri Meets Books, and Charlotte’s Library.  Thanks as always to those of you who linked the question.  If I’ve missed your answer, please let me know!

Special thanks this week to Elaine Magliaro of Wild Rose Reader for dedicating her lovely poem GIRAFFE to me!

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  1. It depends on the book, of course. I think it is easier for readers to assume a dramatic, realistic story is more akin to the author’s true experiences than, say, a futuristic/sci-fi/fantasy book. Some of the funniest comedies – or at least anecdotes or funny scenes – are based on real experiences.

  2. There’s a saying about advertising– half the money that you spend on advertising is wasted, but it’s impossible to tell which half. I’d say that goes for fiction as well. No, not half the money you spend on fiction is wasted. But– some parts come from the author’s life, some don’t, and it’s really impossible to tell which ones.

    In the novel I’m writing, a girl grieves for her dead best friend, bicycles across three states, and falls in love with her middle school arch-enemy (who happens to be a girl too).

    I’m not gay, I’ve never suffered the loss of a friend that way, and I’ve never gone more than 25 miles on my bike. There’s a lot of me in that book–but it comes across in the small incidental scenes, some of the locations, some of the relationship dynamics.

    Then there are novels that strike me as morally problematic in some way. I try hard not to assume that the author is somehow morally problematic. Because liberal arts majors overthink everything, and authors sometimes go more by instinct than by thinking it through, but it doesn’t mean they personally hold reprehensible beliefs.

    I think, if you know the book, and you know the author, it gets easier to draw lines connecting the two. But if you just have the book–it’s awfully hard to assume anything about the author.

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