Sunday, April 03, 2011

Favorite Authors and their Main Characters

Since granting myself permission to take a hiatus from writing when I retired from the University of South Florida last May, I have been tweaking the outline of my next novel (a mystery/romance). Admittedly, I’m getting closer to actually writing again, especially with some recent energy boosts; for example, I truly feel honored to have been featured in this month’s Fabulous Florida Writers. Nonetheless, I truly have been enjoying the opportunity to relax, ride my Harley, workout at the gym, play softball, fish and read. In fact, just since getting my Kindle for Christmas I have read 13 mystery novels. And not that I’m a creature of habit (lol), but if you walk through my house and look at my bookshelves and/or look at the list of the books I’ve read on my Kindle, you’ll not only see novels – you’ll see many of the same authors. Obviously my favorites.

What makes a good novel – theme, plot, story structure, setting, style and tone? All of the above. Yet for me it’s also my enjoyment of the main characters, typically in a series featuring the specific recurring character. Some authors have more than one series. And even though I may have favorite authors (usually because I like their writing style, story development, etc.), I also tend to really like a specific character. It’s almost like I know them (which is what a good writer intends). Below are eight of my favorite current-day authors and their main characters who I’ve gotten to know quite well over the past few years:

  • Stuart Woods – Stone Barrington (and Gino, his detective buddy)

  • Robert Parker – Spenser (and Susan, his long-term main squeeze)

  • James Swain – Tony Valentine (and Gerry, his slowly yet ever-maturing son)

At the end of my first novel, My Sweetpea: Seven Years and Seven Days, I purposefully left the door open for a sequel. (And, interestingly, some reviewers have asked if/when a sequel will be coming out – many have said, “I want to know what happens to Sheila and Troy!”)

Question: Who are some of your favorite authors and their main characters?



Jackie Minniti said...

I see you're a Tony Valentine fan! Me too. In fact, I featured James Swain in this month's issue of The Island Reporter. (If you'd like to read the article, you can go to our online edition at He's a fascinating guy and a talented writer.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Jackie… thanks for the visit.
The thing I’m enjoying more and more about Tony Valentine is the way he and his son, Gerry, are finally coming together… typical parent-child, developmental stuff, yet really fun to see. Jim does an excellent job – not only with his wordsmith skills… his character development, in my view, is excellent.
Yes, I saw the last issue of the Island Reporter – your article on Jim, as usual, was very well done!
Thanks again… read on – write on,

Maconole said...

Based on what I've been reading lately, I'd have to say my favorite author is Dr Seuss and favorite character is either the Cat in the Hat or Sam from Green Eggs and Ham. Although Horton from Horton Hears a Who is pretty riveting as well. They really know how to captivate their audiences.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Maconole,
Thanks for your visit and sharing your “recent reading.”
Over my 40 years on university campuses whereby I got to know colleagues in Early Childhood Education, I can tell you – writing Kiddy-Lit is a bona fide art form! I truly compliment those very gifted scribblers.
You’re reading to your children, for which I applaud you! When I was a child, there were no books, magazines, newspapers, etc. in our house. To wit, I read my first complete book as a freshman in college. Having been an English major in undergraduate school certainly afforded me the opportunity to make up a lot of ground (and my love for reading and writing stuck). Nonetheless, reading “Huckleberry Finn” as a 20-year old sophomore in college is not the same experience as doing so as a child. Again, I applaud you!
Be patient… between your children and future grandchildren there will be plenty of time to get back to your adult novels.
Thanks again…

M31 said...

My favorite character is any WOMAN who a)is the HERO and b)gets to keep her lover. Oh wait, this character does not exist :-(

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello M31,
Very interesting idea… indeed could be a very god storyline. In fact, some of Stuart Woods’ “Holly Barker” novels come close (e.g., "Iron Orchard", "Orchard Blues") – very good reads!
Thanks for stopping by,