Monday, April 24, 2017

Which Books Characters Do You Count as Real-Life Friends?

I went to a writing conference over the weekend. It was an all-day affair and the first one I had ever been to, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.  My head was spinning when I left. (This was in part because of the knowledge consumed but also because a fellow attendee was wearing strong perfume, sending my already aggravated allergies into overdrive.)

The day was divided into breakout sessions. You could choose to listen to presentations about craft, marketing or publishing. Anne Perry spoke at some of the craft sessions and she was also the keynote speaker, presenting to the group as a whole after lunch.

Perry writes historical detective novels and has written 89 books, an impressive feat in and of itself. None of those books has ever been out of publication, an accomplishment of significant magnitude. I knew that she was a big name despite the fact I've never read a single one of her books.

She gave a lot of great advice, which she delivered in a soft British accent.  Everything she said sounded so cultured and wise that I instantly wanted just such an accent, too.

Her talk was directed to writers but her words were about life in general, and came from a place of great breadth of experience. She talked about books being friends, first-hand, personal companions that you turn to in times of need and times of joy.

Authors often talk about sending their books out into the world by likening the process of publication to giving birth. A book, once published, is a fledgling that must find its own way in the world. Authors can participate in marketing and book signings and the like, but they can't force public perception or appreciation.

Perry said, "A good book is yours once you read it."

I knew what she meant.

Laura Ingalls, Anne Shirley and Francie Nolan are mine, just as much as they are the author's. I've walked with these women - and they me.

They've seen me through girlhood and college and marriage and children. At each life stage, they've meant something different - but they've always been there. Constant, faithful, sitting on the shelf and in my heart.

I've blubbered so hard during some books that you would think someone in my actual life had died. The sense of loss is real, the emptiness profound.

Some books have petrified me so badly that I've slept with the light on when I was alone.

I can't imagine a life without books. Thank goodness I don't have to.

Which book characters do you count as real-life friends?


  1. Don't forget about Annie from Joy in the Morning!

    1. I have loved that book from the moment you told me about it. But I think I would have been better friends with Annie.