Thank a Writer: My Favorite Author

200px-TheBFGYesterday I was reading the best blog on writing and publishing (check out Nathan Bransford’s blog here), and I noticed that he had an interesting premise for his daily post. He devoted a blog entry to simply thanking an author that had a huge impact on him–in this case, the author was Bill Watterson, author of Calvin & Hobbes. 

I’m all about giving thanks, so I’m going to hop on board the #ThankAWriter train and use today to thank the author that has had the biggest impact on me: Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl’s books captured my imagination like no other when I was growing up. I actually can’t remember the first Roald Dahl book I read, but I would put good money on The BFG, as it remains my favorite book of his. I still own a copy, and I still read it on occasion (it’s a very fast read for an adult) to tap into the whimsical wonder I experienced as a child and never want to lose.

Those two words encapsulate Dahl’s books as good as any: whimsical wonder. Dahl’s books made the world feel magical, but they were all grounded in reality, in the real world, allowing the reader to fully participate in the book. Humor is an integral part of his books. They deal with serious subjects, but you can’t help but smile as you read.

Dahl made me want to write, and he made me believe in a world bigger than the one I could see with my eyes.

I can’t say I’ve read all of Dahl’s books, but I’ve come close. I discovered his first autobiography, Boy, in my late teens, and I found that Dahl was able to capture that same whimsical wonder without the use of fiction. Later in life I’ve discovered a treasure trove of short stories that Dahl wrote and published. He writes many of them in a casual, first-person style that makes you think that the stories might just be true…and then you get to the twist. And even then you wonder if Dahl may just have been able to tap into a world that is slightly more magical than the one you and I live in.

Many movies have tried to capture Dahl’s books on screen, but I never preferred any of the movies to the original books…until I saw Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox a few years ago. The combination of stop-motion and a ridiculously clever script take Dahl’s story to a new level.

Tenby-Paulette-Hurley1About 5 years ago, I was in Wales for a vacation. We were driving aimlessly around the country, stabbing a finger at the map and going to any town that suited our fancy. I was afraid to drive on the wrong side of the road, so I played the navigator, searching the guidebook for interesting places to go.

That’s when I noticed a small mention in the guidebook that Roald Dahl, who was Welsh, spent many of his vacations in seaside town called Tenby. So to Tenby we went.

We didn’t do much more in Tenby than walk the beach, staring up at the barrier wall and the cliffs, which contrasted in color to the bright pastel hues of the buildings in town. I recall watching a dog play on the beach with such exuberance that I don’t know if any dog has ever been happier.

As my friends drifted towards the dog–how could they not–I held back. I soaked in the blue sky, the lapping waves, the cliffs, the sand between my toes. And I realized that with near 100% certainty, Roald Dahl had walked this beach, perhaps hundreds of times. He’s just a man, just one man, but he’s had such an impact on my desire to write and create and imagine.

And I thanked him, as I do now. Thank you, Roald Dahl. Thank you so much.

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Which author would you like to thank today?

4 thoughts on “Thank a Writer: My Favorite Author”

  1. Pat Rothfuss is not only a tremendously talented writer with a fantastic story, but after meeting him twice, reading his blog and corresponding with him a few times via email (in regards to things best left discussed in a private non-internet forum) I can also say he’s a super cool guy and a grade A human being.

    Also, everything Wes Anderson touches turns to gold. Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson coming together was absolutely brilliant.

    Reply
    • I wonder what would happen if Wes Anderson and Roald Dahl high-fived. They’d probably invent unicorns.

      That’s great to hear about Pat Rothfuss. He is indeed amazing; from his writing, his blog, his charitable work, and his YouTube show, he is boundlessly entertaining and just a good guy. That’s awesome that you were able to connect with him one on one.

      Reply

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