Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fantasy author meeting party

Have you heard of that game where you have to say who you would like to invite to a dinner party if you could choose anyone you liked.  Sometimes there are themes to the game, for example only dead people, only actors, or sometimes there are no rules at all and you can choose whoever you like.

I love playing this game and I could give you a list of people as long as your arm that I would love to meet and get to speak to.  Famous gardeners, politicians and authors are often on my lists, along with the odd fantasy character, I mean who wouldn't love to have dinner with Pluto or Goofy.  Or is that just me....

Anyway, moving along.  I know that many of you are bloggers, or read lots of blogs, and like me you have probably been approached from time to time to write posts on your blogs.  Most of the time I don't do anything about these offers, but I was recently contacted to write about my fantasy author conference.  The idea caught my imagination, although I have turned it into the dinner party game as you will see.  If you want to read more about the people who approached me, Eventbrite, or anything else, see the bit at the bottom of this post.  This is all my own work though and not a sales pitch!

Back to the game though.  In this version I have to choose authors.  I haven't restricted myself to those dead or alive, although I think they are all dead apart from one.  I have though kept to female authors as I needed something to help me narrow things down.  I will explain my choices.

Louisa May Alcott.  Need I say more than that?  I could just sit down with her and that would be a fantasy come true.  I think you know that I am a great fan of her work.  Being named after Amy in Little Women and having visited her home add that little extra spice to this choice too.  I would ask her how she came to write Little Women, what inspired the choices of the characters names, am I like her sister May - who Amy was based on - at all.  So many questions, I doubt that poor Louisa would get a chance to answer, I would be too busy talking.

The next group of authors were really all formative in my love of reading.

Firstly Enid Blyton.  A surprise choice perhaps, and possibly not the most popular author today, but I loved her works.  I read them all.  The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, all of the Faraway Tree books.  Without these I don't know what I would have read as a child.  I devoured them all and they are what started me reading.  So I would love to ask Enid some questions.  Who were the children in her books based on, how did she manage to write so many of them.  What does she think of children's literature today.  I would have a lot to ask her.  I would also thank her for inspiring a love of books and reading.

Then another childhood favourite.  Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I love all of the Little House books, I still have them on my shelf now along with some other books by and about her which are in my to be read pile.  I would love to know what she left out of the books.  After all it cannot have been possible to include everything.  What was the Long Hard Winter really like.  Did she miss the Little House in the Big Woods.  Did she ever return there.  What would Ma have made of her writing success.  Just imagine the stories that she must have had to share that never made it on to the page.

When I started at Secondary School - I think they call it High School these days?  I was 11 years old - the first book that I remember reading in English Literature was called The Village School by Miss Read.  For quite a few years I didn't know she had written any other books.  Now though I know that she wrote many, and I believe that I have nearly all of them.  There are a couple of illusive ones though, perhaps if she came to dinner Miss Read - real name Dora Saint - would bring me copies of the missing ones!  I can hope after all. 

Now as I read The Village School I can still hear in my mind the things that my teacher said about the book.  I thought that many of her ideas - the teachers - were ridiculous then and I still do now.  To meet Dora Saint would be a real treat though especially as I grew up in a village, going to a school that was very similar to the ones that she wrote about.  I am sure that we could compare a lot of notes.  I could also ask Miss Read about my teachers thoughts on her work and what she really meant by what she had to say in her work!

Moving on them to more adult choices.  I could say Agatha Christie, but I expect that she would be invited to a lot of fantasy dinner parties and might not be very chatty having been dragged back far to many times.  If I was allowed to invite an actor I would ask the famous Miss Marple actress Joan Hickson instead!  Far more interesting to me.

Must stick to authors though.  So my next choice is Rosamunde Pilcher.  The only remaining living author amongst my choices.  She is 92 apparently and still going strong.  I remember that my first Pilcher book was The Shell Seekers, I have my original copy, bought in about 1988 or 89 I think.  This was a new type of book for me at that time, far more grown up than I was used to, not something that someone had given me or suggested to me that I read.  I chose this - and bought it - for myself.  I love the way that Pilcher describes her characters, the places that the stories are set in and all that surrounds them. 

What would I ask her?  Did any of the romances really happen, was there anywhere or anything that she wrote about that she hadn't been to.  If you read her work, she always seems to describe things in a way that you could only do if you had been there and lived the moment.  To talk more about that with her would be wonderful.  Who knows, perhaps she reads this blog and will invite me to tea!  Yes please Rosamunde, I would be delighted to accept!

My final choice might seem as though it should live in the childhood section, but for me it comes in adulthood.  As a child I only had one Beatrix Potter book, The Story of Miss Moppet, I think it came from a jumble sale and probably returned there a few years after I acquired it.  Most of my childhood books came from the school library or a jumble sale.

So Beatrix Potter is my final choice, but not to meet because I have fond memories of reading her works when I was a child, instead because I am intrigued by her own story, her work, the setting up of the National Trust, her membership and Presidency of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders Association and many of the other things she did beside writing children's books.  I am not sure she would have approved of that great long sentence about her though!

I really only came to her work as an adult after visiting the Lake District many times.  The Lake District became her home, I have visited her house, Hill Top a wonderful place do visit, and found out more about her and that is what attracts me to her and makes me want to know more.  We have things in common, a love of illustrations, a love of the Lake District, The National Trust, yarn - well me, the sheep were her thing - and much else besides.

I will call it a day there, I could list many more authors and say much more about these choices.  sadly though I don't think I could cook dinner for more than these few.  I would love to have them all to my home for dinner.  I would sit at the top of the table and let them all talk and then we would work round the table one by one so they could all tell us more!  We would eat a delicious meal, end it with cups of peppermint tea - I don't like coffee - and perhaps a wonderful cake or two!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my fantasy choices.  I wonder who yours would be?  Tell me your top two female authors and why you love them so much.  I would really like to know!

Just a note about this post.  I was invited to write, for no fee, about this subject by Eventbrite, to find out more about their conferences click here.  All thoughts and opinions are as ever my own.  You can trust that I only ever write what I want to write about and what I really think!  Thank you Eventbrite for the prompt, it was an interesting one!



  1. What a lovely post! Would you mind if I copied your idea some time?

  2. I have to agree with you on Louisa May Alcott, Miss Read Beatric Potter and Agatha Christie love them all.

  3. Don't know that I have a favorite author. At the age of 12, I read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book I could get my hand on. And also the Little Women books and Little House in the Big Woods. Those would be my all time favorites, that I've read again and again.

  4. An interesting post Amy. I'm not sure who I would like invite but J. K. Rowling and Val McDermott spring to mind, not because I'm a particular fan of their work but because they both seem quite interesting characters having heard them on the radio. I had to do this for an interview in a local magazine recently. Not authors but anyone and I think I chose Judi Dench, Nadia Hussein, Jo Brand and Kirsty Young.... The first three for their sense of humour and Kirsty because she is such a great interviewer she would keep the conversation flowing!

  5. I wonder if they would all be chatting together or be making notes for their subsequent books! You'd have to get some caterers in so you didn't miss a thing. I suppose I'd have to bring L.M. Montgomery and Kate Atkinson to the party as I've just loved their creations. x

  6. Wow! Amy. Can I come too? Apart from Laura I think I have all the other books on my shelves. Our taste in books must be very similar. I'm looking forward to tying to re read the Miss Read christmas stories this year, and Winter Solstice by Rosamund is always a festive favourite (the dvd is brilliant)
    Lovely to read your posts as always. Hope things are better with you ans yours. Alison

  7. Yes I get contacted by all manner of people too Amy but usually don't even answer, this is an interesting one though and I enjoyed reading about all your favourites I loved Enid Blyton too my childhood would have been very dull without her books and Agatha Christie has been my favourite from the 70's onwards. I also love M C Beaton her Agatha Raison books are a scream. :) xx

  8. I enjoyed reading your choice of authors Amy. The other day my daughter told me that I share my birthday with Louisa May Alcott, 29 November, and I was thrilled to know that. She and Enid Blyton were my favourites as a child, and like you, I became a reader via their books. However, as an adult I would like to meet and talk with Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte, because I am a big fan of Victorian literature.

  9. A good selection of guests, some of which would be invited to my dinner party too, Enid Blyton for sure, Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Agatha Christie, and I'd like to throw Harper Lee, Emily Bronte and Frances Hodgson Burnett in to the mix. (Not literally).

  10. What a great party that would be Amy! I have read many of these same books. I would choose Emily Carr (whose writing I love as much as her paintings) and Emily Bronte. Both women had such skill in describing characters, pinpointing such obvious traits that we all know are there but seem to overlook. I really enjoyed this post ;)

  11. What a great idea for a post and I've enjoyed reading your choices. I'd have difficulty choosing just two female authors as I have many favourites. I'd love to ask Elizabeth Gaskell about her meetings with Charlotte Bronte and Dorothy L Sayers about how she created Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. Other favourite authors are Virginia Woolf and Georgette Heyer but I could imagine they would be a bit distant and forbidding at a dinner party. I would also love to include Joanna Trollope and P D James because they write so beautifully and draw you into their books from the very first words, I'd love to know how they do that:)

  12. Lovely post, Amy. I can imagine that would be a wonderful party. I too have read many of those authors. I loved Enid Blyton as a child. I think I read most of what she wrote - favourites having to be The Famous Five. Some friends and I used to pretend to be them - off on all kind of adventures. This was back in '70s and early '80s when us kids would take off all day and our parents wouldn't be worried at all. Ah, the good ol' days.

    Thanks for bringing back the wonderful memories!

  13. Ha ha...never thought about sitting down with Goofy or Pluto. Fun idea. Seriously though I think from books I read in my childhood it would have to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I didn't read Beatrix until I was an adult. The other books I can remember enjoying and looking for at the library in my elementary years are from a male author, Brooks...he wrote the Freddy series. Hope you are having a good week Amy!

  14. What a great dinner party that would be. I was such a fan of Little Women, ended up reading all of her books. I identified with Jo, I had an Uncle who was a waiter and I wanted to be a writer too.

  15. Sounds like a great dinner party I would maybe add Emily Bronte. This will make you smile I have actually had dinner with Pluto/Goofy and Mickey Mouse when we were at Disney World last year with two of our Grandaughters it is quite the experience.

  16. Oh a lovely dinner party with a good choice of guests, I was a big Enid Blyton fan I see the books are being re-printed, and Laura Ingless fab, The village school series were a great read and Rosmund Pilcher, although I didnt like the films they made of the books.

  17. I would definitely invite Miss Read or rather Dora Saint, I have all of her books apart from a cookbook and the children's books. I read them over and over again x

  18. You named some great books and authors! I have so many... I love to read and love hearing suggestions from others. Great post! Have a wonderful evening!


  19. Great post Amy. A couple of authors for me would L.M. Montgomery & Marcia Willett, along with a few older ones like Charlotte Bronte & Jane Austen. I've one children's one you may not know & that is May Gibbs of Gumnut Classics fame (very Australian). Yours would all be great to meet too. Did you know that Rosamunde Pilcher's son also writes. Good reads. Thanks & take care.

  20. I loved the 'Shell seekers' but hated the ending. other than that I would love to invite Marianne Keyes, her books have so many hidden layers. I must admit I went through a stage of reading every Jean Plaidy I could find. I've learned more about English history through her books, than I would ever done through conventional history books. May I add a male writer. It's Khafka. He is the most effective cure for insomnia that I know

  21. I grew up with Judy Blume books. I loved her stories even if they were set on the East Coast & didn't exactly convey a childhood that I always recognized as a California kid. Snow? Growing up in a high rise? How exotic!
    In addition to having Judy for dinner, I'd want to invite Margaret Atwood. Reading the Handmaid's Tale in 1989 had a tremendous impact on me. I'd so enjoy picking her brain over a meal.

  22. Oh that was interesting! We share a few authors I'd enjoy chatting with.

  23. Oh that was interesting! We share a few authors I'd enjoy chatting with.

  24. Lovely idea and a lovely post, Amy. I should imagine that JK Rowling would be quite fun (and I do admire the way she constructed the Harry Potter books - astonishing story structure). Kate Atkinson would also be interesting to meet - she writes so brilliantly well, with quirky imagination and humour. Then I bet Lyn Macdonald, who I see as a trail-blazer in compiling original source history - she has published a number of works consisting of about 90% first-hand material - letters, diaries, interviews - about the First World War - would be fascinating too. Sorry, that's 3... Patricia Cornwall? - oh, that's 4... :-)

    1. Ha, I was just about to write JK Rowling myself! That poor woman would be totally fed up with all the questions I would ask her. Another definite on my list would be Laura Ingalls Wilder too. She must have had such a hard life, but she wrote books that made me want to be a Prairie girl.

  25. Oh wow Amy I think I would choose exactly the same except Miss Read, I think she has passed me by. I received the box set of Joan Hickson's Miss Marples for my 40th birthday - she is my favourite too x

  26. Oh I did enjoy reading that, it made me think! What an interesting dinner party you would be having, I would love to come along too xx


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