The Ongoing Character
My primary interest in fiction, based on my established reading pattern of over 50 years, is in the author who writes a recurring character or ensemble of characters. Like many post WWII kids (I choke on the phrase baby-boomer) if you were a male it started with the Hardy Boys, if female; Nancy Drew.
Before I was a teenager I had read some 35 consecutive stories of Frank and Joe Hardy written under the name pen name Franklin W. Dixon. The books were written beginning in the 1920’s, the first 20 written by a Canadian named Leslie McFarlane. He also may have been one of the writers using the pen name Carolyn Keene, the Nancy Drew author. Thus, although the stories often involved ghostly scenarios, the real ghosts were the writers.
As a teenager I lost interest in reading for a while. My interests were somewhat typical if not very intellectual. Girls, hanging out with friends, finding a bit of trouble here and there and doing as little as possible in school, and did I mention; girls?
In 8th grade my frustrated (and adorable blonde pixie) English teacher began a dialogue with me about the book reports that I had not turned in. The next day, seated at my desk in the front of the room where she had moved me for some transgression or another, she walked over and slapped down a paperback book entitled “Dr. No” by Ian Fleming. This was a short time before that first film release, so James Bond was not yet Sean Connery to me. By the time the movie came out I had read a half dozen Bond books and I was again hooked on reading much because of a recurring character I could not leave alone.
It is not my intent to do a chronology of how I came to read each of my favorite serial character writers. I’ll say this, after again taking a break from constant reading I became a college professor in my mid-twenties. I never taught summer session so I went back to reading, often poolside. That time in my life led to Travis McGee of John D. McDonald fame and then Robert B. Parker’s; Spenser. The rest of the list will follow as I devote a significant part of the initial content of Roaming the Stacks to being a guide to authors and their ongoing characters.
It is not my intent to review books. The mission is more to assist readers who struggle to get beyond the “Bestseller” lists and let you roam the stacks at the library or bookstore or in those virtual stacks online and find a way to get hooked on reading for the great escape that it is. I want to both guide readers and pay homage to the creative men and women who breath life into page after page and for so long have entertained me so well.
Although I may cover a long list of such authors, I apologize in advance if I leave out favorites of other readers. I know there are many more that I don’t read than those that I do. But alas, I am but one reader who still has a full life of family, work, music and art to contend with, not to mention the time I spend watching sports and movies with some time for playing golf and tennis thrown in.
Bear with me and given some time to get this web site off the ground, I hope to have a blog or other ability to allow readers to share information about favorite authors and characters beyond my reading list.
Over five years ago, when I was reviewing books for a now defunct web site, I also had the pleasure of interviewing writers. That was almost more fun than reading the stories. Look for an “author interviews” tab on this site.