View Full Version : Anyone ever spoken with/had their work read by a "famous author"?

04-19-2014, 07:06 AM
When I was 12 or 13 (so, over a decade ago), I wrote a novella about being a kid in a small coastal town in Western Australia. It was set during Christmas, and the kids' horrible relatives came up from the city to stay. Needless to say, it was quite bad, but it was ~20,000 words and I remain proud of the effort to this day, but for two reasons.

Reason #1 is because I finished a project so young, and reason #2 is because I managed to get the thing read by (a then relatively unknown) Markus Zusak. I met him at a thing my school sent me to for 'gifted writers' (or more likely kids who showed an interest), and at the end of the day he encouraged the class to send him their work.

I did, and forgot about it, but a month or so later he emailed me back. I don't remember specifically what he said (the email has been lost to the internet), but it was along the lines of 'congratulations for finishing a novel' and he went on to praise little details he would have picked up only by reading it. Of course, I'm sure he didn't go through it with a fine tooth comb, and nor did he say "my god this is brilliant", but he told me I had the guts to finish a project and send it out and that was worth bucket loads. It's encouragement I don't think I'll ever forget, and I hope I can meet him again one day to tell him how much his words have meant to me. I also had a weird feeling of pride on his behalf when The Book Thief became so popular.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with a big name author?

04-19-2014, 08:02 AM
If anyone 'famous' has ever read my work, they've never told me. I certainly haven't approached anyone; the authors I know are too busy for it, and I wouldn't presume on our friendship enough to ask. Maybe when I have a mms in their genre, I'd ask.

The closest I've come is reading an original urban fantasy story aloud to an audience at a SFF convention, and having Harlan Ellison tell me later, 'You know, kid, that wasn't completely full of shit.'

04-19-2014, 08:07 AM
I've had a few pages of my work read at conferences, once by Terry Brooks (author of the Shannara books), and once by Jane Espenson (who has written for such television shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, Dr Who, etc, etc -- she's the most lovely, approachable person with the most insanely intimidating resume).

They both had highly complimentary things to say about my work, and both said they thought I was writing publishable work, but y'know, neither of those projects ever went anywhere.

So their praise was great for my self-confidence but not a good indicator of whether I was close to catching my big break. :)

04-19-2014, 08:21 AM
Not quite famous, but...

My creative writing professor in university is a fairly successful Canadian author, with I think three adult novels published and a trilogy of YA fantasy--some of his books have won awards and such. I was the only person in the class he gave an A+ to as a final grade, and he told me I was a good writer and offered to read my novel MS when I told him I was working on one. He never got back to me about it, though, and that was nearly a year ago.:Shrug:

In any case, it's definitely a cool feeling when someone with some measure of experience and success in your chosen field reads your work and sees potential in you.

04-19-2014, 04:08 PM
Yes. Twice. It was nail-bitingly frightening.

But the feedback and encouragement I got has spurred me onward, boosted my confidence, and made me a better writer.

04-19-2014, 05:31 PM
This will be my hope if I get into Viable Paradise one day!


04-19-2014, 07:08 PM
Stacia Kane included one of my sex scenes in "How to be a Sex Writing Strumpet."

04-19-2014, 07:37 PM
Thirty-some years ago, I had John Gardner (Grendel) read three of my stories at Bread Loaf. He picked one to publish in his magazine MSS. Two weeks later, he and his motorcycle went off a cliff.

04-19-2014, 07:52 PM
Back when I first started, I had a couple of relatively famous writers, one one very famous writer, read one of my short stories. All three said the story needed serious revision before it stood a chance of being published.

I submitted the story anyway, and it sold first time out to a top national magazine. That soured me on critiques.

I did have a famous writer read that story after it was published, and he's the one who convinced me that my decision to quit my day job and write full-time was the right one.

04-19-2014, 08:19 PM
I won a Skype chat with Beth Revis a few years back after Across the Universecame out. She was sweet and encouraging and prodded me to refine my concepts.

Sarah Dessen taught creative writing at my university while I was there and popped into my kidlit and YA courses along with being on the judging panel to pass us along to higher level classes. I can't remember anything specific though, except her undying gratitude toward Mandy Moore.

04-19-2014, 08:21 PM
Charlie Stross has retweeted a few of my articles, so I assume he's read them. And Alex Wellerstein retweeted my subterrene article.

04-19-2014, 10:34 PM
I was a student at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, with John Irving as instructor/supervisor. I also had the good fortune, many years ago, to have a coffee sit-down, along with three other students, with Kurt Vonnegut.

Too bad none of it rubbed off on me.


04-19-2014, 11:02 PM
Madison Smartt Bell is a kind of famous author who has read some of my work as a professor of mine. He's a nice guy, and he's said some nice things about my writing, and he's also given me really helpful feedback.

The thing about writing professors, though, at least at the undergraduate level, is that I think they're required to say something nice before they really criticize your work. We've had really bad stories that have been workshopped in class, and he's said nice things about them as well, and so it's hard to know when any creative writing professor is really being sincere. And it's even harder with him, because he can be a difficult man to read a lot of the time in general.

04-19-2014, 11:29 PM
I am in an MFA program. My professors are all writers with a substantial accomplishments. Listening to them and learning from them has been a dream. We also have guests come to the class. The one coming next week is quite well known. He wants to take part in our workshop. I am up. Story has been emailed to him. I am quite nervous but at the same time excited to get his take on my writing since I am such a fan of his.

04-20-2014, 03:49 AM
I also had the good fortune, many years ago, to have a coffee sit-down, along with three other students, with Kurt Vonnegut.


Karen Junker
04-20-2014, 10:27 PM
I have always wanted to meet my favorite authors, so what I did was this: I started my own writers' conference. I've met and worked with several famous authors, editors and agents, including Jo Beverley, Jim Butcher, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jay Lake, Ken Scholes, Jacqueline Carey...so many I can't even list them all here.

In addition, though my work in the literary community, I had the opportunity to have several famous authors at parties at my house--including George RR Martin, Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon.

I can't recommend volunteering at writing events enough. It's a great way to meet authors.

Cathy C
04-20-2014, 11:04 PM
Yep. It was by accident, really. My co-author and I had just completed our first urban fantasy (which genre didn't exist at the time) and had been accepted by a small e-pub. We were very excited because we'd just been given our cover and a release date. It happened that Laurell K. Hamilton was in town for a signing. My co-author and I took off work early so we would be first in line to get our books signed. We were HUGE fans and she was only signing the first 100 people in line because it was a fly-over stop and she had a plane to catch. She wound up arriving late because of an allergy attack, so we sat on the floor in the hallway of the bookstore, waiting. The lady next to us was listening to us talk about the book were had sold and started asking questions about it. After chatting for a bit, she asked if she could read it. We said, "Sure!" and promised to send her one the next week, which we did.

Fast forward a few weeks. New friend from the signing emails us and says she's sorry she deceived us, but she was really Laurell's personal assistant :eek: but didn't want to promise she'd show the book to her boss (she got a lot of such requests) but that she loved, loved, LOVED the book so much that she was, "hoping we didn't mind that she gave it to Laurell to read."

:Wha: Um. No, we're heartboken! :hooray:

Fast forward another few weeks of pins and needles and we hear from Laurell herself!! She liked it so much that she told us, "I hope you don't mind, but I overnighted the book to my agent. You need to be represented."


She even gave us a cover quote for the book and we still stay in contact. :Hug2:

Just last month marked the 10th anniversary of that signing and email exchange and our representation by Laurell's agent. :D

Dreams can come true!

04-20-2014, 11:56 PM
The closest I've had to any of this was the, dare I say, honour of looking up from the urinal to see Terry Pratchett.

04-21-2014, 01:15 AM
The closest I've had to any of this was the, dare I say, honour of looking up from the urinal to see Terry Pratchett.

Let me guess: He greeted you with my sig line.


04-21-2014, 03:32 AM
The closest I've had to any of this was the, dare I say, honour of looking up from the urinal to see Terry Pratchett.

That's great. This isn't a book thing, but the well known Australian film critic David Stratton has a similar story about Fellini... although Stratton was so excited that when he turned to shake Fellini's hand he peed on him. Hence the title of his memoirs I peed on Fellini

04-21-2014, 07:36 AM
I might possibly have trampled Neil Gaiman on the way to the nacho bar.


Jo Zebedee
04-21-2014, 11:39 AM
I'm not sure how famous she is but Teresa Edgerton edited my first book. She was fabulously supportive and knowledgable. The editor of my second book had one of his critiqued by Patrick Rothfuss.

I used to work in a large book chain as a manager and met loads of writers at signing events, including Sir Terry, who was lovely, and Maeve Binchy who was so, so very warm, and loads of others. Most, I found, incredibly down to earth. It was good fun. :)

04-21-2014, 05:33 PM
Wayson Choy read my first published novel. Of course, he's kind of a friend. He's an incredibly generous man who is loved by all who meet him. He enjoyed my book. (-:

04-21-2014, 08:51 PM
I was a student at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, with John Irving as instructor/supervisor. I also had the good fortune, many years ago, to have a coffee sit-down, along with three other students, with Kurt Vonnegut.

Too bad none of it rubbed off on me.


One of my biggest regrets is that I had the chance to sit down and have coffee with Ray Bradbury, but I passed it up because I had a super tight deadline, and the drive there and back would have taken too much time. Or so I thought at the time.

I took a rain check, and finished the novel. Between one thing and another, I couldn't work out another time to meet with him, and when I finally did manage it, he up and died.

I promised myself I'd never again let a tight deadline interfere with the rest of my life.

Mr Flibble
04-22-2014, 01:30 AM
Charlie Stross has retweeted a few of my articles, so I assume he's read them.

I did a reading on Saturday in front of Charlie (though maybe he was snoozing, who knows?)

It involved an octopus orgy :D

But I have had a fairly famous (in the UK, not sure about the US) author blurb my book, Adrian Tchaikovsky. So I'm pretty sure he read it...he gave me a lovely blurb anyway.

04-22-2014, 01:45 AM
I did a reading on Saturday in front of Charlie (though maybe he was snoozing, who knows?)

It involved an octopus orgy :D

Nice. :)

04-22-2014, 04:24 AM
Anne McCaffrey blurbed my first novel, and Gene Wolfe blurbed the one I have coming out this year.

04-23-2014, 05:58 PM
I might possibly have trampled Neil Gaiman on the way to the nacho bar.


The bastid.

04-24-2014, 08:58 AM
The bastid.

I'm glad you see that I had absolutely no choice but to trample him.

04-25-2014, 03:13 AM
An Edgar winner read two of my novels. Gave me the 'Frank and Bill treatment.'


04-25-2014, 04:02 AM
I would assume anyone who's been published has been read by all sorts of readers, including the 'famous.' I'm not famous myself but I was on a committee with some major writers in order to choose the 'best short mystery' of the year. Wow did we read a lot of stuff! (And skimmed a good amount of it just due to quantity.)

If you're published, you're being read.

05-19-2014, 08:31 AM
I had a year of graduate level writing classes with Dave Wallace.

People ask me what that was like and I tell them it was like repeatedly being kicked in the crotch.

Wait, more like a punch in the face.

No, I was right the first time. Definitely a kick in the crotch.

05-19-2014, 11:20 AM
I'm in a program founded by Ellen Hopkins, and I'm guessing that she's read some of my writing, at least. (Well, technically, I did write a grant for her, and there's that). Whether not she'll read my novel when it's done . . . who knows? It'd be nice, and I'd appreciate it, that's for sure.

And if you think meeting one of your favorite writers at a con is strange/awesome/weird ... the first time I met Ellen in person, I was having Thanksgiving dinner. At her house. Without the police being called on me. Now that was surreal.

05-19-2014, 03:44 PM
Iain Banks very kindly read (most of) my third/fourth draft (it wasn't even finished), said nice things and offered practical advice. And Michael Redpath (a very successful British novelist and, at one time, by far the leading British author of financial thrillers) kindly gave me some very helpful advice when I was just getting started.

05-19-2014, 10:38 PM
John Gregory Brown.

He said "I have a great deal of potential." right after he banned me from ever writing in my preferred genre ever again in his class. At least, he didn't say I completely sucked. :-)

05-19-2014, 11:08 PM
I held Lee Child in my arms. Well, maybe he held me. I dunno, but we had met the night before in a group and he hugged me like an old pal at The House of Blues in Cleveland. I swooned a little.

He's a very nice man.

I've met quite a few famous writers and with only one exception found them all to be completely delightful people.

ETA - as for reading, both Peter Straub and Tana French read TGF and getting to talk to those two immensely talented people about writing has been, to this point, just about the greatest thing ever.

Mr Flibble
05-20-2014, 12:02 AM
Joe Abercrombie made me pizza once, does that count?

I didn't know who he was either..or Peter Hamilton, who was helping him... They were just some guys making pizza. Good job I'd just put my glass down when I found out. They were ultra charming (and so was Adrian Tchaikovsky, but I recognised him...and he blurbed my book later, bless him)

This will probably be my greatest claim to fame ever, so I'm claiming it! :D

ETA: Although dinner with Brent Weeks might top it? He taught me a rude word in Greek.

05-20-2014, 12:10 AM
Mr Flibble read my two (so far) completed books and he's famous!

05-20-2014, 02:28 PM
I've met Neil Gaiman (twice), George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, Iain Banks, Margaret Atwood, and a few others at conventions and things. I saw Terry Pratchett from afar.

Robin Hobb read Pantomime and blurbed it (considering she's my favourite author of all time and I met my husband through her books, it's super exciting). So did Malinda Lo, and a few other authors, though I know most of them as friends.

05-20-2014, 03:11 PM
Joe Abercrombie made me pizza once, does that count?

*ears perk up*


*pounces on Mr Flibble*

Whenwherewhathowwhat!!!!!! *dies of jealousy*

Taylor Harbin
05-20-2014, 06:42 PM
Let's see....nope and nope on both accounts. I think that will never change unless I get out of Kentucky.

The pains of getting a Master's.

But honestly? I'd be terrified to let any successful author read my work unless it was spick and span.

05-20-2014, 08:25 PM
If you're published, you're being read.

Yes, but do you know by whom, and have you spoken to them about it?

Even after thirty-five years, I still get a kick out of just having my byline published in the table of contents or on the cover next to the name of a writer I've long admired. A favorable comment by such a writer still makes me feel really good, as well.

05-20-2014, 08:42 PM
I had a real-life famous author (Jane Yolen) compliment my book reviews once. Dunno if that counts, though.

And I once got a rejection letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Mostly, I'm in the "take only pictures, leave only footprints" camp when it comes to Big People. They have enough idiots to deal with without me joining the pile.

05-21-2014, 01:42 AM
My most favorite rejection letter (so far) was from Marion Zimmer Bradley in the early nineties. Although it was a rejection for her magazine, the guidance within helped me define my reasons for writing.

05-21-2014, 01:53 AM
*waves hand* Actor and screenwriter R. Ben Garant (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0304830/) and New York Times bestseller Margaret Coel (http://www.margaretcoel.com/) (Wind River Series) each wrote a blurb for my first novel Blood Atonement (http://www.writersamuseme.com/barbaratownsend.htm#903982647)! They are awesome and generous folks.

05-21-2014, 02:09 AM
Gary A Braunbeck judged a flash fiction reading contest I entered, and told me afterwards that he loved it and to start submitting that story. It has not been accepted anywhere yet.

Anne McCaffrey almost ran over my friend with her wheelchair. Twice. ;)

I've talked to many authors at conventions, but never about my books. However several published authors that came from AW have read some or all of my books (published or not).

05-21-2014, 02:41 AM
If I was ever to meet a famous author I would be so much in awe that I would not be able to say anything or do anything other than ...


05-21-2014, 02:42 AM
Unfortunately, if rejection letters count, I've had a whole bunch of famous writer/editors read and comment on my writing.

05-21-2014, 02:45 AM
I have read in front of Michael Flynn, but he was just waiting for me to get out of the room so he could read ;).

Fictional Cowboy
05-24-2014, 10:52 AM
I met with my very first favorite author (Joseph Girzone) about 22 years ago at a book signing. We clicked instantly and spoke for hours. His book, Joshua, is still one of my favorites and had a massive impact on who I am today.

I've since met a few other authors and am currently e-mail friends with three authors of popular cozy mysteries, writing regularly with them. (My favorite genre.) One of them read some of my work and replied with this:

"Thank you for letting me read your work. It truly inspired me and will go on my wall of things I look at to get me through tough days. You'll be hanging there with Charles Spurgeon and Charles Dickens and Oswald Chambers."

That was incredibly encouraging and scarily humbling.