I’m very happy to announce the start of the One Book Interview series, a weekly feature of questions to authors, editors, & readers about their favourite books.
And . . . *cue drum roll * . . . in position number one . . . *cue fanfare * . . . we have a person who has been at my virtual side
since I started chasing this crazy dream of becoming a professional author.
May I present the Comma Queen herself – Nicole Ayers.
Name one book:
1 – everyone should read
The Princess Bride by William Goldman: It’s fun—pure entertainment. The movie was so popular, but I didn’t realize for a long time that this was a book. When I finally discovered it, I enjoyed it so much. And hearing the actors’ voices in my head while reading actually enhanced the experience.
2 – you would take with you if you going to be marooned on Mars
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton: These snapshot memoirs showcase the best and worst of humanity. I think I’d want the human connection I feel when I read these stories, and there’d be so much material to mine for stories of my own creation.
3 – you took a chance on and were pleasantly surprised by
A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin: I was prepared to let this cultural phenomenon pass me by—I mean, the series isn’t finished and epic fantasy isn’t my go-to genre. But after so many of my reading people talked about it, I decided to give it a try, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
4 – you’ve edited that was most memorable
Geez, this is like asking me to pick my favorite kid. Here are a few stories that have stayed with me:
The Lords of Misrule series by Andy Graham (I know, I’m a suckup :-). I’m also being honest.): This look into an all-too-realistic dystopian future is keeping me up at night in today’s political landscape.
Trapped by Sal Mason: I’ve always had an inexplicable fear of being kidnapped (maybe not so inexplicable—thank you, Thomas Harris, for Silence of the Lambs). This book forced me to take a first-person look at a horrible experience and face my own phobia.
A Tale of Moral Corruption by Marsha Cornelius: This book reverses sexism and spotlights so many of the issues women face. It also works through the problematic idea that empowering women means disenfranchising men.
Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny by M.E. Kinkade: I loved choose-your-own adventures as a kid. This grown-up version was a hoot.
5 – that has influenced you most as a person
Really? One? Thank goodness you’re not being authoritarian with these answers. My best answer is all the books I’ve read, even the crap ones. Books have always been my portal to understanding people and the world. Here are a few titles that stand out:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: It was the first book I read about social justice, and it’s always stayed with me.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave: This one humanizes the refugee experience in brutal and beautiful ways. “I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly . . . A scar means I survived.”
The One and Only Ivan by K. A. Applegate: Ivan is a gorilla kept in captivity at a shopping mall. His observations about humans are insightful and heartbreaking.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis: Lewis is a master and the alternative viewpoint he writes from forced me to take a close look at what I believe and how I behave.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: This collection of letters from Strayed’s Dear Sugar advice column are beautifully written and masterfully crafted to get to the point of what matters in our relationships with ourselves and others.
6 – that has influenced you most as a professional
Well, this is boring, but I have to say The Chicago Manual of Style. Knowing the intricacies of style guides are a must. A recent book, written by editor Beth Hill, called The Magic of Fiction is fast becoming a favorite though. She marries the mechanics of language with the craft of good story an puts it all in layman’s terms. I highly recommend this for editors and writers.
7 – you have not yet read but think you should
Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance: I think books open doors of compassion and understanding, and I’m trying very hard to make sense of the different electorate groups that are so different from me. I’m currently reading Coates’s Between the World and Me, and Hillbilly Elegy seems like the next step. I know it’s getting some criticism from people who live in Appalachia, but I also think it will give me some insights into at least some of the issues facing the poor white working class in America.
Nicole Ayers is the freelance editor behind Ayers Edits. While she’s held many jobs in her life, including stints as a server, camp counselor, telemarketer, print shop lackey, bartender, and teacher, editing is her favorite because she combines her love of reading with the fun of wordplay. Her goal is to help authors create work they’re proud to share. When she’s not marking up manuscripts, she’s chasing the little people in her life, snuggling with her dog, or seeking new adventures with her husband. Sometimes you’ll even catch her at a yoga class if she’s not hiding with a good book.
Connect with Nicole at www.ayersedits.com
Nicole Ayers says
I had to laugh. Looking at many of the books I listed, it’s so clear where my head is these days. I loved this activity!
I know what you mean. They’re great books. I worry, though, that by running these interviews my to-read list is going to become unmanageable. 🙂
Sal Mason says
Great interview. It’s cool when you get a glimpse inside your editor’s head. I never knew Nicole had a phobia of being kidnapped 🙁
It is a great interview, yes. And the problem with editors revealing their phobias to their authors is that those ideas may surface in future books… 😉