Writers who grow

Sally Odgers sodgers at hotnet.net.au
Thu Apr 6 20:56:54 EDT 2000

Hi all -
I did an article called GROWING PAINS and wanted to include some authors
whose work had, or hadn't, grown during their careers.  Anyone care to have
a shot at identifying the five authors from what I said?



Writer A produced a very good children’s book about ten years ago. It was
about a child whose innocence and determination could not solve his
problem, and how he came to terms with reality. I was most impressed, and
waited with interest for A’s next book. Five books later, I realised that
the stories were all similar, and the protagonists, whether boys or girls,
seemed to have the same ‘voice’.  Author A was accomplished at the
beginning and didn't really ‘grow’. Presumably A’s audience is content.

Author B wrote a first book which I really enjoyed. There were endearing
characters, an original story and lovely style. The few flaws were
endearing too ... The next book had ‘grown’ enormously. It was technically
much better, but the characters were harder, cooler, more complicated and
less approachable. The quality I'd loved had gone. B wrote about six more
books of various types, two of them very good, then turned to writing for
younger children. This is an unusual way to go, so perhaps a rejection or
two of longer books or a change of editor pushed B’s career into a
different track. Maybe B still writes complex books for private amusement?
Or maybe B really never wanted to write complex books at all?

Author C wrote a clutch of light-hearted (non-category) romances. A few
years later, C wrote a much bigger book. There were many more characters,
the plot had multiple strands and as many heads as a hydra. This book, and
the ones that followed, won C a whole new audience, while the older
audience had fun identifying familiar ‘types’ among the characters. Had C
grown? It’s hard to say. The books had definitely grown in length and
complexity, but the actual level of writing was very much the same. 

D was a well-known category romance writer whose books, so my local
swap-shop owner tells me, were ‘really popular’. D went mainstream, putting
characters on a wider stage. Had the writing changed and characters become
more layered? I don’t know. The longer books are not to my taste, but
neither were the shorter ones. However, D is a frequent Book Club choice.

E wrote two light children’s fantasies in the 70s, then a slightly more
complex one. Twenty-five years later, E is still writing fantasy, but the
plots are much more complex, the characters have grown stronger and more
interesting, the themes are more powerful. Most of E’s books are still
technically children’s books or YA, yet E probably has as many adult
readers as young ones. E has also inspired a reader to set up a list for
other fans. The people who contribute are aged between 10 and 40+.


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