Friday, August 6, 2010


By: Lisa Karon Richardson
This is America's Next Favorite Author!!

[Cue Applause] APPLAUSE

Jovial and Slightly Smarmy Host: Good Evening and welcome back to America’s Next Favorite Author! I’m your host, Brian Oceanwave.


BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Tonight we pit three “Classic” authors against one another: Miss Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Samuel Langhorne Clemens; that’d be Mr. Mark Twain to most of us. Let’s give our contestants a hand.


BRIAN OCEANWAVE: In case you’re just tuning in, here’s the way it works. These authors will provide us with the answers to a few simple questions, and then You America, will decide—America’s Next Favorite Author.
Let’s start with you Miss Austen.


JANE AUSTEN: (smiling grimly and offering a small curtsey, but looking off stage as if trying to find a way of escape.) You are too kind.
BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Here we go. Can you tell us about your writing credits? (Thrusts microphone in Jane’s face.)

JANE AUSTEN: (Pulls back from the microphone.) Mr. Oceanwave is this entirely necessary?

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Why, yes. Yes it is!

JANE AUSTEN: Oh, very well. I wrote several novels.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Would those be fictional novels?

JANE AUSTEN: (Through gritted teeth) Is there any other kind?

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: How many novels did you write?


BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Which is the most popular?

JANE AUSTEN:I suppose that would be Pride and Prejudice. My Darcy has set hearts aflutter since his creation. In fact, the good Lord created dear Mr. Firth simply to play the role. It was a personal favor to me, and well, all women.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Is it true that you dabbled in… (glances side-to-side and lowers voice) self-publishing?

JANE AUSTEN: Yes. I did self-publish my first novel after I sold the rights to a publisher who did not follow through on putting them in print.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Ooh, now that could be damaging. We all know how poorly edited self-published novels are. And now can you tell our audience why you deserve to be America’s Next Favorite Author?

JANE AUSTEN: Well, I did single-handedly invent the romance genre, which continues to outsell every other genre by leaps and bounds. I have a fan base of millions and it keeps growing even though my books are almost two hundred years old. All of my books have been turned into movies numerous times—did I mention Mr. Firth—and finally have you seen the number of memes? Some… enterprising soul has even managed to add zombies and sea monsters to my poor stories. (She shudders.) While I rolled in my grave at the horror, a part of me wonders if there may not be something to it. After all I myself have been dead for nearly two centuries, and yet here we stand chatting.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (Smile falters for the first time. Then puts a hand on her back and nudges her a step toward the audience.) There you have it folks, Miss Jane Austen in her own words. And now we move on to contestant number two, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


BRIAN OCEANWAVE: I understand that you created one of fiction’s most memorable icons.

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Indeed. People have quite taken to my consulting detective, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Though I did write other things—

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Yes, I’m sure you did. Now about Holmes, did you ever give any thought to the fact that your creation might encourage drug use in America’s youth?

(One or two boos and catcalls from the crowd)

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Why, no. No, I never did. I never meant to do any harm. Dr. Watson is always very anti-drug, you’ll notice.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (purses lips) Hmm. And for a moment let us turn our discussion to your personal life. I understand that you believe in fairies.

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Oh, yes. I’ve seen pictures and everything. Look you can see for yourself. (He points up.) I’ve never seen them so bright and immediate before.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Sir Arthur, those are the spotlights.

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: I see. Well, that hardly proves that fairies don’t exist does it?

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: And now, sir, can you tell us why you deserve to be America’s Next Favorite Author?

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: Certainly. Certainly. (Looks up again.) It’s just that I created a whole new standard for mysteries. Private Investigators came into their own because of me. And I did it without having to pay for someone else to publish it for me. (Sniffs at Miss Austen.) My stories have been made into movies, and people have made just as many liberties with my characters, making innumerable pastiches. Some of which are quite good. Oh, and computer games. I don’t believe there was ever a computer game based on either of my competitor’s characters. Everyone recognizes the deerstalker hat and pipe.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: An excellent point. (Turns to the crowd.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, everyone!


BRIAN OCEANWAVE: And now for our final contestant, Mr. Mark Twain.


BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Mr. Twain, I understand that you are American and your books actually feature American characters.

(Hoots and cheers from the crowd)

MARK TWAIN: My books have human characters… except of course when they’re frogs. And did I hear you right, are you lumping Huck and Tom in with the classics?

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: That’s right Mr. Twain. Your books are considered some of the finest classics around.

MARK TWAIN: (Shaking his head, and puffing on a cigar.) A classic is a book people praise and don’t read. I think I’d like to be moved to a different category.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (Runs a finger under his collar.) Well, Mr. Twain, what if we rename the category Timeless?

MARK TWAIN: (Nods) Mr. Oceanwave, I think you’re a classic.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Thanks. Now is it true that you invested in new inventions.

MARK TWAIN: Yep, lost my shirt backing new inventions, but I don’t regret it a whit.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: And you were a member of the Psychical Society?

MARK TWAIN: Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Mr. Twain, we’re almost out of time. Can you tell us why you should be America’s next Favorite Author?

Obligatory Applause

MARK TWAIN: It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech, but I like to think my books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately everybody drinks water.

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: Well, that was certainly... concise. There you have it, folks. Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain. He’s one of a kind.

MARK TWAIN: (Taps the host’s shoulder.) You do realize that twain means two, right?

BRIAN OCEANWAVE: (fake laugh) All right then, America. Their fates rest in your hands. Who will be America’s next Favorite Author?!! Call in to our toll free number 1-888-ANFA to let your voice be heard. And don’t forget to tune in next week when we’ll pit William Shakespeare against Dashiell Hammett and Willa Cather!

Okay so as you may have guessed, I couldn’t decide on a favorite author. It was just too wrenching, as if I were making a lifelong commitment that never the two would sunder. I’d much rather hear from you. Who are your favorite authors? I know I’m forgetting some. Who would be great in a head-to-head competition for the title? And more importantly how do you decide? What criteria elevate an author to a ‘favorite?’

Disclaimer: this post was supposed to be funny. It was not meant to be a slam on self-pubbed authors, or dead authors, smarmy game show hosts, Mr. Firth, or frogs.

Finally, apropos of nothing, I had to share this video with you all. It's just too good to keep to myself.


  1. I'm in the front row for this game show, Lisa!

    very clever. But it doesn't help me decide! I think the most amazing thing is the idea of what these authors would be bringing in financially (if they had a good lawyer, and Mr. Twain would argue THAT is an impossible oxymoron) if they were indeed alive and well and appearing on your show! Ms. Austen might just have outmarketed them all AND Tiger Woods.

    love the video.

    A great ending to Fave Authors' week!

  2. How wonderful, Lisa! As for my own faves, the list is too long to include her, but I must say that some of my favorite "authors" have yet to be pubbed, if you know what I mean--and who...

    Funny video, I dare say!

    Write on!

    Because of Christ,

  3. Thanks, Deb. You know as I was writing this a part of me was seriously trying to consider who would win. I'd have to give the odds to Jane Austen, but only id women were the main viewers. The more men thrown into the mix, the more the numbers could be thrown off.

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  5. I love you, Sharon. You always brighten my day. So how does someone qualify to be one of your favorite authors? Have you been able to analyze and breakdown the ingredients that make up book magic?

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this Lisa! So clever! And of the three, I'd go with Jane. :)

  7. Anne, I never had any doubt who you'd pick! (At least of these three) Is she your favorite over all?

  8. Oh Lisa, if I were a high school literature teacher I would absolutely be using this post to bring some relevancy to these writers! SO creative and funny!

    For myself, I'm afraid I'll have to go with Mr. Twain (aka Samuel Clemens). Partly because I love his snarky sense of humor and wit, and partly because he lived just down the street from some of my ancestors in Missouri. When they were children, they would go sit on his porch and have lemonade, and he would tell them stories. According to family rumor, Becky Thatcher may have been based on said ancestor (great-great grandmother, I think.) Fun, huh?

    Loved this post, m'dear!

  9. Oh, Niki, what an amazing bit of family trivia. He seems like he would have been as interesting in person as his books were. The more I read about him, the more I think he would make a fascinating character to plug in a book.

  10. Oh, I loved this post! So creative and interesting. As I read the dialogue, I thought you captured the essence of the author and I could 'hear' them speak as they would have in their own time. Very well done, Lisa.

    I refuse to pick one on the grounds I may incriminate myself, so there.

    That video is too funny. I hadn't heard of it pre-Orlando conference but while there, one of the workshop leaders was talking about it while discussing promotion and what a wonderful avenue a video like this can be for a book. When I got home, Gina had talked about it in an email so I checked it out and laughed so hard, I ended up watching it twice.

    Now, here on your post, I watched it again with JJ this time and he was laughing so hard, too. Since he's the real gentleman in the family and is usually the one opening doors for me, all I had to do was say Jane Austen was a proper lady and he knew what I meant.

    re JJ being a gentleman... JJ opened the car door for me awhile ago and then stood there waiting while I got in. Nelson yelled out, "Watcha waitin' for JJ? Get in." JJ ignored him and once my seat belt had snapped shut, JJ closed my door and ran around the car. I explained to Nels that JJ was only doing the gentlemanly thing. Nelson laughed and then looked back in his rearview mirror. "You'd better stop it. You're making me look bad." LOL

    Anita Mae.

  11. Hey Anita,

    Your JJ sounds like such a great little guy. I hope he had an amazing time at Disney World.

    The video was just too funny NOT to share. I'm sure it's making the round of all the writer's sites. And why not?

    Anybody want to make book on Lizzie Bennett?

  12. I think for me I would have to say Jane Austen would be my front runner. Loved Sense and Sensibility.

  13. Hi, Louise!

    It's nice to see someone has a favorite book of hers other than Pride and Prejudice! I think my favorite Austen is Northanger Abbey, followed closely by Persuasion.

    What can I say, I'm a rebel!

    Do you also have a favorite modern author?

  14. OMG, Lisa! This was hilarious. And the video....brilliant. Gives one a whole new appreciation for Jane Austen.

    My favorite Austen book is EMMA, only becuaes it and P&P are the only two I've read completely. S&S put me to sleep. Haven't read teh others, although Northanger Abbey is on my laptop e-book collection. My problem with P&P is that Austen had a love-affair with long winding paragrpah-long sentences. By the time I reached the period I couldn't remeber the subject of the sentence. EMMA is tighter written.

    The only Twain I've read are a few of his shorts. HUCK and TOM had too much dialect for me.

    As far as Doyle, I have a collection of his Holmes books. Haven't read them yet.

    Great post!!

  15. Gina, I think you might actually like Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. He pioneered the alternate history sci-fi genre with that one, and it's a time travel! Touch of romance, etc.

    You know I've been thinking about it and I think one thing I like about each of these authors is that they didn't take themselves too seriously. They weren't aspiring to great Lit-er-A-ture, they were writing stories and characters they loved. Would love to have a story with that much staying power!

  16. Lisa,
    I do in fact have a favorite modern author.James Joyce would be that author lol.

  17. Ha! Louise, if that's the case then we'll get along swimmingly! I tried an online writer's comparison test (for fun) and it most often comes back with the answer that my writing is like James Joyce.

  18. Lisa, what a wonderful post. I could hear each author's voice coming through loud and clear. What a gift you have. My favorite author? Sometimes it's as simple as who I'm reading at the moment. I'm easy!

  19. That was my trouble, Connie! I can't make up my mind. There are just too many candidates. The post was born out of my desire to make someone else choose for me and remove the angst.

    So glad to have you back around the Inkwell again dear sister. We have missed your sweet, gentle spirit.

  20. Oh Lisa,
    You ask too much.

    ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE OR AUSTEN? I'd say it would all depend on my mood.:) I couldn't give up either.
    The Hound of the Baskervilles and Pride and Predjudice live in my head. That's probably why I write what I write. Never thought of that before.

    I can't believe I never saw that video before. Hysterical. I love it.

  21. Jilly, I know beyond a doubt that all the books I've read (and the movies I've seen) have influenced me enormously. Both the stuff I've liked and the stuff I haven't.

  22. JJ and I have just returned from the city and I wanted to tell you that when we were in the used book store, I happened upon a copy of Pride and Prejudice. I held it up to JJ and said, look what I found. He stared at it with a puzzled look, then shrugged. I moved the book up and down in front on him and said, "Jane Austen." His expression cleared and he grinned. "Fight club," he announced and pumped his arms. A couple people frowned at him, but I just smiled. I was so proud of him. LOL

    And yes, Lisa, JJ is a very special little man. We were discussing Disney World today on the drive into the city and he said he enjoyed the trip and was sorry he didn't make better use of his time. He had such a tummy ache at the Magical Kingdom, Nelson brought him back right after lunch. He was fine at Epcot, however, which was the day before we left. Nelson said it was too much excitement for him. :(

  23. Next time he'll probably have a better time. He'll know what to expect and will be prepared. It won't all be so new and overwhelming. Glad he liked the video!

  24. Thanks Lisa. That was great. Of the three you mentioned, I'd pick Twain. And next week Shakespeare would get my vote. Some of my favorite classic authors are a bit obscure. Kate Chopin, Charlotte Gilman Perkins, Nella Larson, Langston Hughes, to name a few.

  25. Dina, of all of your obscure authors, the only name I recognize is Langston Hughes. But I think your comment helped me realize what I've been thinking all week. I don't know anyone who has just one favorite author. Most people even have more than one favorite for each genre they enjoy. And it's okay. Variety is the spice of life.

    I guess this was one theme we were just destined to leave ambiguous!

  26. Thank you thank you thank you! For posting the video! It made my day!


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