At the moment I am reading Foundling, the first book in D. M. Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy. I was excited to read this one, because not only is D. M. Cornish Australia, but he lives in Adelaide, the city that I live in. Not only that, but it is published by Omnibus Press, which is a children’s publishing company based in Adelaide as well. It is amazing that someone from Adelaide can have their book listed in ‘1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up’.
It is strange how the author of a work can make you want to read something. I don’t mean the author’s style of writing, or other things you may have read of theirs – I mean them, asa person, or some facet of them in real life, not fiction, that draws you to them. I’ve been wanting to dip into D. M. Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo for a while now, purely on the fact that the author is from Adelaide. The book itself has nothing to do with Adelaide, or Australia – it is a fantasy novel, set in a world where monsters press threateningly at the borders of cities, and strange bands of adventurers defend civilisation from these creatures (at least, this is what I’ve gathered so far). But a tiny fact about the author was enough to spark my interest in the trilogy.
This can sometimes work the other way around as well – when I finish a book that I particularly enjoyed, I often google the author to find out not only what other works they have in print, but also about their life: where they grew up, what inspired their stories, how they lived, how they wrote. The character of the author is sometimes as compelling as their books. Roald Dahl, for example, was a fascinating man, who only started writing for children when he was 45 – before this he had been a fighter pilot, a spy, a diplomat, a screen writer, a short story writer, and many other things besides. In fact, many of the authors I most love are renowned for who they were as a person, not just what they wrote. Do you need to be an interesting person to write interesting things?
I have attended many different author events as a bookseller, selling the speaker’s works for the audience to get signed. Most authors, I have to say, I had not read before I heard them talk. Most of them, despite not being familiar with their books, I found really interesting to listen to – most of them talk about their journey to become an author. Because it seems that there is always a journey of some sort. Please aren’t born writers, whatever people think – it is their lives that shape them into authors.
In a fortnight, I am selling books at an event where Sean Williams (another successful Adelaide author) and Garth Nix (one of my all time favourite authors, and the author of one of the books in the ‘1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up’ list) are speaking. I am excited to hear Garth Nix speak, but also a bit apprehensive. I hope he speaks as well as his books speak to me.