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Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers started school, looking to conquer the world. He could read well; he had discovered the powers of the written word. Words failed him, though, when it came time to speak. He had a speech impediment, one that caused him immense frustration: some words he couldn't pronounce. His frustration soon turned to anger. Luckily, a teacher recognized his problem. She told him to write words he could pronounce, and he began to write. He created poems at first, then short stories, full of words that he did not fear reading aloud. He was soon being praised for his writing: it was just a preview of the praise he would receive when he embarked on his life of writing.

Chester Himes: Writing from the fire

Chester Himes had a hard life, even for someone growing up in the 'thirties. He took some knocks early on, knocks many people get in life; it was the racism he encountered in LA that made him bitter, a bitterness which put a fire in his belly and informed so much of his best work. Himes probably would have drawn little consolation over the fact he was breaking new trails for  authors such as  Walter Mosley. But he did.

From the Reading Chair: Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds is a Welsh astrophysicist who writes spectacular stories and novels about the future. A future where there are several types of humans, and not all of them get along. Interstellar travel is possible; it will take a while, even on a lighthugger, traveling just under light speed. Orbital habitats form the Glitter Band above the planet Yellowstone in the Epsilon Eridani system, all doomed. They just don’t know it yet. 

“Rich, and famous, and happy before I die”: Louisa May Alcott.

Louisa May Alcott did not write because she had the need to get the stories out. Louisa May wrote for one reason: she wanted her family to be rich.