When I researched and wrote my 2017-published book on literary trivia, I decided to focus on interesting facts about deceased novelists. Figured I needed to narrow down my subject area somewhat. 🙂 But there are of course many interesting facts about living authors, and this post will focus on some of them — in alphabetical order by last name.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (author of novels such as Americanah) did a widely viewed TED talk called “We Should All Be Feminists” that was sampled in Beyonce’s 2013 song “Flawless.”
Isabel Allende always starts writing a new book on January 8 — the date she sent a letter to her dying 99-year-old grandfather that she expanded to create her widely read debut novel, The House of the Spirits.
Margaret Atwood, while primarily known for The Handmaid’s Tale and other novels, has written just as many books of poetry.
Lee Child (born James Grant) chose the Child pen name so his Jack Reacher novels would appear on bookstore and library shelves between the works of crime-fiction greats Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.
Suzanne Collins was a writer for a number of relatively upbeat children’s TV shows before writing the much darker, widely popular The Hunger Games trilogy.
Louise Erdrich is not only an author but the owner of an independent Minneapolis bookstore called Birchbark that focuses on Native-American literature.
Jeffrey Eugenides, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Middlesex, took time off from college to volunteer with Mother Teresa.
Diana Gabaldon of Outlander series fame holds three science degrees — in Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology — and was a university professor before starting to write fiction.
Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist, self-published Still Alice before Simon & Schuster acquired the debut novel about a woman suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. It became a bestseller and film that won an Oscar for Julianne Moore in the title role.
John Grisham was not only a lawyer but served as a Democratic member of the Mississippi House of Representatives (from 1984 to 1990) before becoming a renowned novelist.
Stephen King, while a student at the University of Maine, wrote a column for the campus newspaper called…”Steve King’s Garbage Truck”!
Cormac McCarthy, whose work has been compared to William Faulkner’s, sent the manuscript of his first novel to Random House having no idea the man who had been Faulkner’s editor still worked there and would become Cormac’s editor.
Liane Moriarty is the first Australian author to have a novel (Big Little Lies) debut at number one on The New York Times bestseller list.
Arundhati Roy wrote her second novel a whopping 20 years after her Man Booker Prize-winning first novel The God of Small Things. She devoted much of those two decades to political activism in India.
Anne Tyler (The Accidental Tourist, etc.) didn’t attend public school or use a telephone until she was 11 years old, because her family lived in a Quaker commune.
Alice Walker, another activist author who’s best known for her Pulitzer-winning novel The Color Purple, was in a romantic relationship with Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman in the 1990s.
Any trivia about living novelists you’d like to mention?
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 2003-started, award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest piece — which envisions new construction sinking my town’s downtown — is here.