A Family Affair

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Familial traits are things that we’ve inherited beyond our control. No nature v’s nurture debate here; just an observation. Looking at my own family tree, there are writers along my paternal line,but there are also scale- makers, gardeners, jesters and of all things, accountants. I’m curious to see further back, to see if there was a writer in a French garret or an ancestor who hung around with the Jonathon Swift pack. Tracing ones family tree is so interesting you never know what you’ll find – imagine discovering your ancestor was William Shakespeare. It was these ponderings which put this week post in motion. My mission ,if I chose to accept it, (sorry for the pop culture adage, I couldn’t help myself) was to find which well-known writers inherited or passed on their talent.

 

  1. Stephen King – King’s son, Joe King, has been writing under the pen name of Joe Hill (abbreviated form his middle name Hillstrom) successfully for several years’ years. Not wanting to ride on his fathers coat tails he establish a writing career independently. He announced his true identity in 2007.
  2. Martin Amis – This much-lauded writer of London Fields had very big shoes to fill, being the son of Kingsley Amis. Kingsley Amis was a prolific writer who was ranked ninth on The Times list of the 50th greatest British writers.
  3. Mary Shelley (nee Wollstonecraft) – The writer of Frankenstein was the daughter of the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft.
  4. Bronte’s – Mostly known for the three sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne and their works of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, but the Bronte family came from a long lineage of scribes. The girls father, Patrick Bronte was also a poet and writer.
  5. Alexandre Dumas – Writer of the great Count of Monte Christo and The Three Musketeers he wrote some of France’s best known novels, but his son, also named Alexandre Dumas, wrote some of France’s best known plays, including Camille.

 

Here is a list of current authors, see if you can guess whom their famous parents are.

 

  1. Kerry Reichs
  2. Jesse Kellerman
  3. Dirk Cussler
  4. Felix Francis
  5. Christopher Rice
  6. Carol Higgins Clark

Answers

 

Five books all writers should own

 

Every writer needs his arsenal of writing weaponry. After the obvious hardware such as pen, paper, computer, (duh!)the most useful purchase is a selection of helpful books. You’ve bought the dictionary and thesaurus (I hope), and if you’re a fantasy writer you may have bought a Lexicon of Myths and Fairytales or a crime writer may have bought a book on criminal investigation procedures, but what other books can help the aspiring writer. I’ve listed my top five and maybe some of you can share books or websites you’ve found helpful.

1.Elements of Style – William Strunk and E.B White

One piece of advice I remember from my studies of journalism at university was never leave home without this book.It is, by far, the best book written on grammar. Every journalist has it in their briefcase/ backpack because it contains wonderful little grammatical reminders that may have slipped our minds. (Unfortunately, the older I get, the more my mind slips)

2. On Writing – Stephen King 

I’m sure most writers have stumbled upon this book. Stephen King’s advice is straight up, no fancy pants talk. He just tells it like it is. I found this book to be practical and inspiring. When I’m feeling out of my depths I like to pick it up and have a flick, I always find something motivational. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

 

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

 “Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

 “Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”

 

  1. The Australian Writer’s marketplace

When I graduated from University this was my first purchase. It’s a compendium for writers listing details for submission and contact details for agents, magazines and newspapers, competitions and events, organisations, writers’ services, scripts and courses. My copy was heavily dog-eared, and I purchased many revised editions. This is centred on Australia, but a website that contains a fabulous array of publishing opportunities, for mainly the USA, is: http://www.everywritersresource.com/lists.html

 

  1. The Writing Book –Kate Grenville

This is a practical guide, using exercises, to get the writer started and heading in the right direction. It contains practical advice on character development, plotting, writing dialogue. I found Grenville’s book to be the best in this genre, but I also like Holly Lisle’s online courses “How to Think Sideways”

 

  1. If I Tell you I’ll Have to Kill you – Edited By Ian Robotham

This book is a recent addition to my collection and I’ve just finished reading it, so I thought I’d add it to the list. It is a collection of discussions from some of Australia’s best crime writers. Each writer explains, their writing process and the ins and outs of crime writing and how they came to be a writer. It is interesting (and often humorous) to read the various ways that writers go about their work, some are plotters and some are ‘go with the flow’ writers. This is a good read for all, not just those interested in the crime genre.