Monday, April 14, 2014

The Ghost of Mysteries Past


If you could choose a dead author to mentor you today, who would you choose and why?

By Meredith Cole

I can think of a lot of living authors who I'd love to have mentor me--and many who have graciously helped me along the way. But I got a bit stuck on the dead author example. I had a vision of a ghost rising up from the grave with advice or something. Spooky stuff.

Anyhow, an author who is no longer with us mentoring me? My first thought was Dorothy Sayers. I
love her witty, intelligent mysteries. I return to her books again and again, enjoying the plots and the characters. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane have a truly modern relationship, and both characters are complex and unique. I love that she was also an academic, translating Dante, and a playwright.

I'm not sure what I would expect from Dorothy Sayers as my mentor, though. Career advice? Back when she was publishing there were no ebooks, and there were probably tons of smaller publishers. There was no amazon. and probably her books were hand sold lovingly by independent booksellers. Today publishing is completely different.

But stories never really change. Styles might get tweaked, and certain trends come and go, but I'm sure her advice on story telling would still be valuable. And if not, she would at least go on my list of people I'd love to have dinner with! And while I'm at it, I'd invite Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler to the party, too. And then I'd just sit back and listen.

8 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Good choice, Meredith. I don't think good storytelling changes, but the trappings (style) might. So she could still offer good advice on the basics, though maybe be a little out of the loop re: current writing styles. But you make a good point about e-books and Amazon and the like – in the realm of the publishing biz I'm sure she would feel like a stranger in a strange land.

Catriona McPherson said...

Wow! DLS? I admire and adore her books but I'd be terrified of her in real life.

Meredith Cole said...

Hopefully she wouldn't be terrifying if she was a mentor, Catriona! At least I hope not..

Robin Spano said...

Sounds like a class I'd like to audit right along with you. Great post.

lil Gluckstern said...

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that dinner!

Susan C Shea said...

Good reminder that it's time to re-read a Sayers mystery. I didn't know she was an academic, but I will now think of her living in that world and translating Dante when I read Gaudy Night! Thanks for a good post.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by yesterday! Have been thinking about that dinner party ever since I suggested it (what would we eat...?). Very fun question! Can't wait to read about the group's dream mentors this week...

Art Taylor said...

Nice post! ...though given Chandler's harsh comments about Sayers, I'd hate to be anywhere close by that dinner! (Just a taste: "her kind of detective story was an arid formula which could not even satisfy its own implications. It was second-grade literature because it was not about the things that could make first-grade literature..." and there's more!) :-)