Here we are, at the end of another year. I have to say that, all in all, it was a sad year in that we lost some wonderful authors in 2013.
I thought it would be appropriate to remark on a few of them here. I have read works by all the following writers, and I can honestly say that I will miss every one of them.
Tom Clancy (1947-2013) published his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, in 1984 and basically gave birth to the military thriller genre. Clancy hoped to see 5,000 copies of that first printing; an endorsement from President Ronald Reagan (“That’s my kind of yarn”) made it a huge success. His best known character is Jack Ryan.
Elizabeth Peters (1927-2013) wrote a wonderful series of mysteries featuring Amelia Peabody and her husband, Emerson, archaeologists and amateur sleuths. She also wrote romantic suspense novels using the pen name Barbara Michaels. Her real name was Barbara Mertz, and she had a PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago.
Richard Matheson (1926-2013) wrote about normal guys suddenly thrust into abnormal and/or terrifying situations. He was superbly talented; Stephen King lists him as one of his major influences. Matheson is probably best known for his novels I Am Legend and Bid Time Return which became the movie “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve.
Vince Flynn (1966-2013) died far too soon. His character Mitch Rapp, the CIA counter-terrorism agent, thrilled readers in novel after novel. Flynn was dyslexic, and started writing to help cope with the difficulties of that disorder. He listed Clancy as one of his influences.
E.L. Konigsburg (1930-2013) wrote for children and was loved because she never wrote down to them. She submitted two novels for publication in 1966, and they were both published in 1967: From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. She won the Newbery Medal in 1968 for Mixed-up Files, while Jennifer was named a Newbery Honor book, making her the first author to accomplish a double win. She won the Medal again 29 years later for The View from Saturday.
Janet Dailey (1944-2013) is known to romance readers far and wide and is probably best known for her series of books about the Calder family. She wrote Harlequin romances for years before breaking into mainstream publishing.
Elmore Leonard (1925-2013) was from Detroit and broke into publishing by writing westerns. He eventually became known for his crime mysteries, such as Rum Punch, Get Shorty, and Out of Sight. Many of his novels, both thrillers and westerns, were made into movies, and he acted as screenwriter because of his sharp sense of dialogue. Leonard’s advice to writers: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
Andrew Greeley (1928-2013) was a Catholic priest who wrote both novels and non-fiction, but was probably best known for his fiction: The Cardinal Sins, Thy Brother’s Wife, and his series of mysteries featuring Nuala Anne McGrail. He may have been outspoken when it came to both religion and politics, but he could definitely tell a good story.