Authors We Love

Right now I’m at the conference of the South Carolina Writers Workshop. We’re slumming it at the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort. It’s a rough gig, I tell ya.

One of the big draws for me this year was the keynote speaker, author Joshilyn Jackson. I’m a huge fan of southern fiction in general, and I’ve loved Joshilyn’s writing ever since her debut novel knocked my socks off – Gods In Alabama. When I was invited to teach here at SCWW, I waffled on my answer until I heard Joshilyn would be here – then I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

So that brings up today’s question. What author would make you pack your bags and head out across the country to hear them speak and the chance to possibly (gasp) talk with them?

Tell us… and have a good weekend. (You know I will!)

I took this photo from my hotel room balcony the minute I arrived.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  6. Amy Sorrells on October 26, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    >Anne LaMott, Pat Conroy or Brennan Manning. (I know, nutty, right?)

  7. Beth on October 25, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    >Tough one, but probably James Scott Bell, because I buy everything that he writes about writing.

  8. thescribblerross on October 25, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    >What a fun question! I would be way too timid to ever talk to any of these authors, but would definitely pay to attend a workshop led by any of them. My first choice would be the YA author, David Almond because his lyrical storytelling makes every interaction I have with his books a magical experience. My second choice would be Tim O'Brien, for capturing the psychology of war and the power of Story in ways I've never encountered before. Thirdly–even though he's not a novelist–would be the auteur Wes Anderson. Who else can create characters like him?

  9. christa on October 25, 2010 at 12:35 AM

    >OOPS…forgot Francine Prose

  10. christa on October 25, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    >Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, Kathryn Stockett, Charles Martin, Stephenie Meyer, Sarah Addison Allen

  11. Crystal Laine Miller on October 24, 2010 at 10:56 PM

    >Oh, I didn't really answer your question–I've met so many authors, but it was a thrill for me to finally meet Dr. Richard Mabry at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. What a kind and gracious man. I felt as if I already knew him, though we'd never met.

  12. Crystal Laine Miller on October 24, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    >Oh! I adore Joshilyn Jackson's books! I didn't realize that she was the keynote here at that conference. If only I'd known….

    Plus, this sounds like a great place for a conference!

    Sounds like a good place to heal up a stress fracture, too.

  13. Carol J. Garvin on October 24, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    >James Scott Bell would do it for me… and did. Just arrived home from an awesome four days at the Surrey Int'l Writers' Conference where he was one of the presenters. I took in all of his workshops and was also privileged to have a one-on-one 'Blue Pencil' appointment with him. Probably the best conference I've ever attended! πŸ™‚

  14. Sheila Deeth on October 24, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    >What a good question, though for me it's more which one will get me to venture into town. Some do. Sometimes.

  15. Jan Cannon on October 24, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    >Fiction: Alexander McCall Smith
    Non-fiction: Mary Pipher, Barbara Ehrenreich

    Lots of authors come to the Boston area and I try to hear as many as I can. Writers need to support one another.

  16. Nike Chillemi on October 24, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    >Ann Rice, Robert Liparulo, Sibella Giorello, Steven James. In secular: Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and/or Barbara Parker.

  17. Lauren on October 23, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    >I was lucky enough to meet Kristin Cashore last November. Other authors I’d love to meet: JK Rowling, Robin McKinley, Phillip Pullman, Tolkien and CS Lewis.

  18. Old Salt on October 23, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    >John Dunning, one of the most overlooked talents of our time.

  19. Marilyn Walker on October 23, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    >Definitely Cynthia Rylant. I’m not so much star-struck as just feel we’d be great friends.

  20. Becky Avella on October 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    >I’m not very original here, but I would love an opportunity to sit and chat with Francine Rivers. And I have to agree, I’d be star struck if I had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling. I admire both of these authors so much for different reasons. I’m a West Coast girl, but my dad has been working in South Carolina on and off for two years now and raves about its beauty. Have fun, Rachelle!

  21. CCC on October 23, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    >Anne Tyler. I’ve read every book she’s written. Some of them twice.

  22. Michelle DeRusha on October 23, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    >I did drive seven hours from NE to MN to see Anne Lamott one weekend — does that count? I’d also go the distance to see Lauren Winner. Girl Meets God is one of my favorite memoirs ever.

  23. Kellye Parish on October 23, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    >Stephen King, no contest. I’ve read every piece of writing that Yankee fool has put out since I was a kid and loved every word of it. I would travel to Maine just to stand in front of his house and make a sad number-one-fan face until he comes out to say hi to me. Others I’d be happy to meet? Chuck Palahnuik, Margaret Atwood, Thomas Harris, and Harlan Ellison, even though the latter would probably black my eye or something for ranking him out in an essay about being unprofessional in his dealings within the industry and ungrateful for his readership.

  24. Edwina on October 23, 2010 at 3:32 AM

    >Max Lucado and John Maxwell – I’ve heard both of them speak – excellent motivational speakers.Fiction: This is a tough one because there are so many great writers, but I would love to hear Francine Rivers. I would also like to hear Jannette Oake speak on her writing journey.

  25. Anita on October 23, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    >I love Southern writers and would love to meet Rick Bragg(“All Over But the Shoutin'”). Fanny Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes) is coming next month for a book-signing and I’ve got the date marked on my calendar.

  26. Jil on October 22, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    >Let’s see-I used to know Dick Francis when he was the Queen’s jockey – always the gentleman. and i heard Robert Dugoni give a fabulous talk the other week. I knew Frank Herbert when he was writing Dune but, unfortunately, it didn’t mean much to me then and James Patterson’s first wife was my friend’s daughter so I wouldn’t even read him for a long time. I guess the one I’d really like to meet is Mark Halprin author of A Winter’s Tale. I love his ideals and the beauty of each phrase.

  27. Tina Russo Radcliffe on October 22, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    >RWA and ACFW offers so many opportunites to hear my favorite romance authors that I have to leave those folks off the list. So..Claire Cook(Must Love Dogs) for sure and Jeanne Ray (Julie and Romeo).

  28. Kristen Torres-Toro on October 22, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    >Charles Martin. I could read his books over and over and over and over… actually, I do!

  29. Rachelle on October 22, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    >First on my list was Richard Paul Evans–his writing is amazing–but I’m happy to say that I have been lucky enough to meet, talk with, and receive an endorsement from him last year.After reading Garden Spells, I’d like to meet and talk with Sarah Addison Allen.I’d also love to meet Nicholas Sparks.

  30. Mystery Robin on October 22, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    >I’d travel to see D.A Carson or J.K. Rowling. πŸ™‚

  31. Walt M on October 22, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    >Barry Eisler, though I might try to keep the political discussion to a minimum.

  32. Charity Bradford on October 22, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    >No fair rubbing it in. I’m just a few (maybe 3) hours away and couldn’t pull together the cash or time to make SCWW.I would love to meet Orson Scott Card or Scott Westerfeld. Hmmm, I must have a thing for Scotts? Anyway, I love both of their work and it would be wonderful to talk with them about writing.

  33. T. Anne on October 22, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    >Oh gee I can’t pick one or even five. I want to meet all or most of my literary giants. I’d settle for Stephen King.

  34. Nicole on October 22, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    >Loved meeting Robert Liparulo and Brandilyn Collins. Truly wonderful people and friends. Would love to meet Vince Flynn–and offer to write the romance for Mitch Rapp. His choice for Mitch was not good. ;)Frank Peretti. Chris Fabry. Tom Morrisey. Francine Rivers. Kristen Heitzmann. To name a few.

  35. Talei on October 22, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    >Oh deeply envious here. I’m actually reading Joshilyn Jackson’s ‘Girl Who stopped swimming’ at the moment.There are so many authors…I would love to hear David Mitchell or Paolo Coehlo speak. To be honest I could listen to any author speak really. πŸ˜‰ Have a wonderful workshop!

  36. Jana Dean on October 22, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    >Hi Rachelle,Amy Tan. And until an unfortunate family situation arose I was planning to meet you this weekend and get some much needed sand therapy. Alas. But when it does work out, I’ll be that much more prepared. Enjoy!

  37. Tim A Martin on October 22, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    >Without hesitation it’d have to be both Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. They’re both equally my all-time favorite authors. I always buy their books in hardcover as soon as they come out. As of late, Ted Dekker is making my list too. I’ve been reading more and more of his work and it is really compelling.

  38. Charise on October 22, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    >Jennifer Weiner. An editor once said my writing reminded her of Weiner’s. I try to work that compliment into all my conversations. “What would you like for dinner?” “Did I ever tell you that an editor once said…”

  39. ~ Brandilyn Collins on October 22, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    >Okay, Missy Rachelle, time to call in a favor. (Oh, what–you don’t owe me one? I could’ve sworn…) Your pic clinched it for me–put my name into teach next year.

  40. Jillian Kent on October 22, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    >Oh I wish I were on the beach. You lucky girl.I’d pick: Adrian Plass, Max Lucado, and if I could time travel it would have to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. πŸ™‚

  41. Tom Bentley on October 22, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    >Oh, Cormac McCarthy and Marilynne Robinson for some exquisite word-wrangling, David Sedaris and Margaret Atwood for drollery and discourse, and a medium (with the right diction and timing) to channel Mark Twain.

  42. A.C. Townsend on October 22, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    >And Terry Brooks !!!

  43. A.C. Townsend on October 22, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    >First and foremost, Frank Peretti. Also Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Patricia Cornwell, Margaret George, and Ted Dekker.

  44. Jan Cline on October 22, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    >I just got back from the Myrtle Beach area. It was 80 when we were there – tough gig – I know it! I think I would travel far and wide to hear Liz Curtis Higgs. Since we write the same genre, and I love it that she travels so much, I would love to pick her brain about weaving history into novels.

  45. Kay Day on October 22, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    >I really want to meet Lisa Samson and Athol Dickson. We are online buddies, but I love their writing so much, and would love to hear them speak and learn from them. Oh, and River Jordan.Some of my other favorites, I’ve already been blessed to meet. And they didn’t make me feel star struck or dorky because they are wonderful, real, down to earth people.

  46. Erica Vetsch on October 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    >Since Dick Francis is no longer an option…:(… I’d have to say Elizabeth Peters.

  47. Lisa Jordan on October 22, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    >Such a lovely view. My heart pines for the beach. I’d love to meet J.K. Rowling, Harlan Coben, Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts, Francine Rivers, Debbie Macomber–although I’d love to knit with her, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. My list could probably go on. I like seeing the different authors listed here…gives me new ones to explore.

  48. OneBigHappy on October 22, 2010 at 7:55 AM

    >Probably Toni Morrison. I would have liked to have met David Halberstam. I’d like to meet Robert McCammon and Paul Johnson too. But the discussion would be the best thing. I’d like to have them all together, discussing writing, and I just get to listen and ask dumb questions every once in a while without them getting annoyed. Is that a dream scenario or what?

  49. Sharon A. Lavy on October 22, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    >Ah, Rachelle, I feel your pain. It’s a rough life but someones got to do it right?Be blessed.

  50. Christi Goddard on October 22, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    >I’ve wanted to meet Dean Koontz since I was 13 (so 23 years). I wrote him a letter when I was 22, and he wrote me back. It was handwritten, and incredibly kind and encouraging.

  51. Dan Holloway on October 22, 2010 at 7:29 AM

    >I would say Oli Johns and Cody James, but as their publisher I’m in the privileged position of being able to call them for coffee and talk. The authors who’ve made me weak at the knees with fanboy-ness have been Martha Nussbaum and Leela Gandhi. Writers I’d pack my bags for? Banana Yoshimoto, Marie Darrieussecq, Elfriede Jelinek, Dubravka Ugresic, Haruki Murakami

  52. Noelle Pierce on October 22, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    >Tessa Dare. She wasn’t the only reason I went to RWA Nationals this past year, but it was a HUGE perk for me.

  53. Wendy Paine Miller on October 22, 2010 at 7:03 AM

    >Oh, I second Mary’s. Thought of one more I had to list. I think Donald Miller would be cool to meet.I, Wendy promise not to leave twenty to forty comments giving names of authors I want to meet. But I could. Oh could I!Enjoy that view! ~ Wendy

  54. Mary DeMuth on October 22, 2010 at 6:55 AM

    >For me, Leif Enger is a hero. I wonder if I’d stutter in his presence.Also, Marilynne Robinson. Wow.

  55. Wendy Paine Miller on October 22, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    >I feel for you. Seems rough. ;)I’ll go with Elizabeth Berg. Jodi Picoult. Wally Lamb. And/or Anne Lamott.And if they all want to be in one place, I will not stop them.~ Wendy

  56. mary bailey on October 22, 2010 at 6:26 AM

    >Good question! For me, it would be my favorite author in Christian fiction, Francine Rivers, and my favorite author in secular fiction, Anne Tyler.

  57. Catherine West on October 22, 2010 at 6:21 AM

    >I think Maeve Binchy would be fun to listen to. Nicholas Sparks is on the list but he probably wouldn’t want to hear what I have to say about turning good books into shlocky movies. Margaret Mitchell of course, but I guess that’s not really plausible :0). My question at the end of this post would also be, “What would you ask them?” I’m not sure I could come up with just one question though.

  58. Katy McKenna on October 22, 2010 at 5:27 AM

    >I'll try link once more:

    If it doesn't work, I must be meant to keep Dave Barry all to myself, ha.

  59. Katy McKenna on October 22, 2010 at 5:25 AM

    >LOVE this topic. I have crushes on authors the way others do on movie stars. When Dave Barry came to KC to speak in a small forum, OH YEAH, I signed up. My hubby went with me to protect me from myself and to protect Dave from….whatever. I wrote a story about it, with my fave pic of Dave and me included. πŸ™‚

  60. Katie Ganshert on October 22, 2010 at 5:19 AM

    >I'm with Lila. I know it's cliche – but JK Rowling. I think I'd be a little star struck.

  61. Kate Larkindale on October 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

    >There are so many writers I'd love to meet, I'm not even sure where to start! Russell Banks for one, and in non-fiction, Peter Biskind. They're the first to come to mind.

    But I doubt any of them are likely to come down to my part of the world, so I'll just dream from afar…

  62. Rachel on October 22, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    >I heard Joshilyn Jackson speak (at Calvin's Festival of Faith and Writing) before I ever read any of her books. She was AMAZING.

  63. Heather on October 22, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    >Well, since Tolkien and Lewis aren't options, I'll have to say Andrew Peterson, Jeff Overstreet, Donita K Paul, or Stuart Vaughn Stockton. Maybe Ted Dekker.

  64. Karen on October 22, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    >@ Angela – I met Patterson last year, too. I didn't get to hear him speak, but he was doing an autograph signing. He was so nice; he made a point to say something to everyone. If I ever get an opportunity to hear him speak, I'll take it.

    Others I'd love to hear, oh, where to start? Some of these I'll never be able to hear, since they are deceased, but I still would've loved the chance:

    John Grisham, Mary Stewart, JK Rowling, Jane Austen, Steinbeck, Frost, Shakespeare, Toni Morrison, Tolkein, Eudora Welty, Daphne, Du Maurier, the Bronte sisters, Alice Walker, and so many more!

  65. BK on October 22, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    >Technically I know you mean fiction authors, but I had my dream meeting two Sundays ago when I had a chance to meet Dr Charles Stanley in person at his book signing in Phoenix and after 22 years had the chance to tell him "thank you" in person. I doubt I'll ever have a "meet an author" moment that tops that.

  66. Keli Gwyn on October 22, 2010 at 12:03 AM

    >One author I'd wanted to meet was Nicholas Sparks. I didn't have to travel far to hear him speak because the last stop on his recent book tour was Sacramento, where he grew up. I live less than an hour's drive from the city, so a friend and I headed down from the Sierra Foothills and joined the 1,000 others who overflowed the Borders store. I'm short, so I couldn't see Mr. Sparks unless I stood on tiptoe, but I could hear him. He gave some great writing advice during the Q&A.

    I'd also like to hear Francine Rivers and Tamara Alexander speak.

  67. Angela on October 21, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    >I was able to hear and meet James Patterson last year, and the moment I entered his presence I became a geeked-out idiot. I ran across a picture of me today standing across the table from him while he signed my book, and you can almost see the stars in my eyes twinkling in rainbow colors. It's almost embarrassing. Total. Geek. And I'm 100% confident if I met him again tomorrow I'd react the same way.

  68. Lila Swann on October 21, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    >Not to be clichΓ©, but J.K. Rowling. I'd travel around the world to listen to her/have a chance to talk with her, much less across the country.

  69. chicleeblair on October 21, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    >Neil Gaiman, once when I was studying abroad at Oxford I flew to Dublin for 24 hours to see him and Amanda Palmer

  70. chicleeblair on October 21, 2010 at 11:50 PM

    >Neil Gaiman, once when I was studying abroad at Oxford I flew to Dublin for 24 hours to see him and Amanda Palmer

  71. Stephanie McGee on October 21, 2010 at 11:00 PM

    >I did for Jasper Fforde. My mom and I were planning a trip to NYC to celebrate my graduation with my bachelor's. I called her up and suggested we delay going until mid-July of that year because he'd be in NYC doing a signing.

    Other authors I'd do it for? If I had the funds, probably my friends for their debuts. Also, Tamora Pierce. Kiersten White, if I had the funds.