This month’s guest reader is New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford. His novels plunge readers into the Pacific Northwest of decades past, as experienced by characters whose Asian heritage was a source of personal strength, even as it sometimes divided them from society.
Inspired by a Superhero’s Death
What makes a writer? In Jamie Ford’s case, he had known he wanted to tell stories for a long time. In an interview with Bill Kenower for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, he explained that reading about Jean Gray’s (Phoenix/Dark Phoenix) death as a young man in X-Men #137 turned him on to deeper stories and their potential impact. He wasn’t the only one. After X-Men #137, people sent funeral wreaths to Marvel Comics’ headquarters in New York City, mourning Jean Gray. “Suddenly, characters for me had souls… Those characters were unforgettable.” And certainly timeless, as Marvel’s continued popularity at the box office proves.
Jean Craighead George came easily to her life’s work as a nature writer. Her father was an entomologist (studier of insects), and the rest of her family loved the outdoors as well. Her mother enjoyed storytelling, and, after graduating from college with a degree in science, Jean was eventually able to combine both family talents by writing compelling books about nature for young people. Whether she writes factually of what happens in the animal world or weaves a story about young people who love the outdoors, she always adds a generous amount of woods lore and scientific knowledge to her writing however lyrically it’s presented.
Jake Bales has been so widely interviewed that when I sat down with him, I hardly knew where to begin. He is not merely a favorite librarian at the Simpson Library, at the University of Mary Washington; he is also the author of more than five different biographies, including such renowned authors as Horatio Alger, Kenneth Roberts and Willie Morris, as well as two biographical essays on Peter Jenkins and Homer Hickam.