I have many favorite authors, both those who are giants in their genres such as Tolkien, Lewis, or Pratchett, and less universally well-known authors like Lackey, or Feist or Pierce. However, among my favorite authors there is only one who’s ‘voice’ and style impresses me to such an extent that she has become my Literary Hero, and that one is Lois McMaster Bujold.
This topic occurred to me recently as I lay re-reading Ms. Bujold’s Cordelia’s Honor for the umpteenth time. Like any author, her style changes over time, and even from novel to novel. But despite this, I find her unique depth and insight is present throughout most of her works. This quality about her writing is extraordinarily difficult to define, but it affects me like no other author’s style ever has. The effect it has on me is quite profound, drawing me in, and often leaving me thoughtful and pensive for hours, or even days afterwards. Of course, different books produce this effect to different degrees. Paladin of Souls, for instance, transports, enthralls, and leaves me thoughtful for days, regardless of how recently I’ve read it. Conversely, some of the earlier Miles Vorkosigan books, such as Warrior’s Apprentice or Cetaganda, while thoroughly entertaining do not have quite this effect on me. This is not of course a problem, but rather its opposite, as I thoroughly enjoy reading Ms. Bujold’s books because I know she’ll always surprise me.
As I mentioned, that certain defining quality which Ms. Bujold’s writing has is somewhat difficult to isolate. Part of it must of course be her characters, which are extraordinary in their depth, seeming almost to be real people. Part of it may be the conflicts she devises, which are always imaginative, though not necessarily unique except in their twists. But beyond this, there’s a certain something about her stories, which causes you to stop and think about the underlying issue, which is often applicable to modern life. Some of this is certainly her language skills. She writes some of the most quotable books I have ever read, full of pithy one or two line sentences which capture vast ideas in a few words.
So, my secret writerly dream, is to have this same depth and meaning in my own writing, no matter how fantastical the subject. I don’t think I’m there yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be, but having a role-model to look up to can only help. And of course, give me a good excuse to keep re-reading all of my favorite Bujold novels. After-all, it’s all research, right?!
Thought for the Week: “Yet loyalty must run both ways, else it becomes betrayal in the egg.” Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Currently Reading: Polgara the Sorceress by David and Leigh Eddings