Avid fiction readers aren’t seeing any authors live during the pandemic, but we can watch clips of them on YouTube. Here are some short videos, with the first group featuring some great living writers followed by several clips showing famous novelists who are no longer with us. Most speak as skillfully as they write, though you can’t tell in the silent, pre-1910 footage of Mark Twain and Leo Tolstoy that ends this post.
(Above is a screen shot I took from a 2017 interview given by the then-102-year-old Herman Wouk of The Caine Mutiny, Marjorie Morningstar, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance fame. Video can be seen a few paragraphs down.)
This first video stars the fabulous author Liane Moriarty discussing her 2018 Nine Perfect Strangers book, the mega-success of her 2014 Big Little Lies novel that spawned a hit TV series, etc.
Alice Walker (The Color Purple) eloquently talks about Zora Neale Hurston and Hurston’s writing — the most famous example being the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Isabel Allende on how her debut-novel masterpiece The House of the Spirits happened, the number of hours a day she spends writing, and more.
Zadie Smith, known for vivid/often-hilarious multicultural novels such as White Teeth, speaks about why there aren’t more published authors with working-class backgrounds.
Margaret Atwood (author of the iconic The Handmaid’s Tale and many other works) discusses feminism in this frequently funny 1997 clip.
Lee Child, author of the riveting Jack Reacher series, talks about why it’s good to wait until one is older to start writing novels.
Donna Tartt talks about her writing process, her sweeping Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch, and more.
Stephen King, interviewed by George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame, answers a question about how he’s able to write so much — and also mentions Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
Historical-fiction author Kate Quinn discusses The Huntress, about a woman who marries an American who doesn’t know about her Nazi-war-criminal past. Among Quinn’s other compelling novels is The Alice Network.
Moving to deceased writers, this video shows James Baldwin (Go Tell It On the Mountain, etc.) dissecting the hyper-difficult black experience in America.
The aforementioned 2017 interview Herman Wouk gave at the age of 102!
J.R.R. Tolkien on his iconic The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Lastly, film footage of Mark Twain a year before his death, alone and then with his daughters…
…and footage of Leo Tolstoy near the end of his life.
Author videos you’d recommend?
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest piece — about my town’s contested, unequally funded election — is here.