It’s the first Monday of the month and we’re back with Author Addiction! This is a monthly feature here on Of Dragons and Hearts and on A Fool’s Ingenuity, Becky’s wonderful blog. You can also check out my previous editions with Rainbow Rowell, Jill Shalvis, Jane Austen, Robin Hobb, Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Laini Taylor, Victoria (V. E.) Schwab, Sarah J. Maas, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.
This will be the last Author Addiction post for a while. No, don’t cry, Becky and I are just out of common authors to write about so we each picked a freebie for this month. But we decided to collaborate on another monthly feature in 2016 – we’re currently discussing details (it’s all very hush-hush … by which I mean that we haven’t thought of a name yet). Anyway, stay tuned for something new and fresh in January and enjoy our last fangirly moments.
It’s ROALD DAHL’s turn for me – my favourite author of children’s books. I know Becky is writing about Neil Gaiman, so go check out her post (I liked Stardust and The Graveyard Book but haven’t read any of his adult stuff so I can’t do an AA post about him, sadly).
I usually start these Author Addictions by saying how I encountered the chosen author. With Roald Dahl (1916-1990), I simply have no idea. I think it must have been my mom picking up Matilda or James and the Giant Peach at the library. And then she read them aloud to my brother and me, it was our nighttime ritual for years. Anyway, these were all translations, of course, and we slowly worked our way through The Witches, The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was a bit older when we read Revolting Rhymes, which is a collection of fairy tale retellings (poems, really) and it’s great.
My all-time favourite is still The Witches. It’s absolutely horrifying and if you have a young kid at home you might wait until s/he’s about 10 to read this. I don’t know. But I did love it as a kid and I loved it later when I re-read it. And it features a great relationship between a boy and his grandmother, who’s an amazing old lady. In fact, Dahl’s books have no shortage of great female characters – both young and old. Matilda and Sophie (from The BFG) are great girl characters with actual agency!
I am currently slowly working my way through the originals of Dahl’s works – being a translator means I’m always curious about how the translations compare to the originals. I finished The BFG a couple of days ago and I have to say I don’t envy the translator who did this one. I’ll have to check out a copy of the translation and look at it now, but I remember enjoying it very much as a kid. It’s full of made-up words, wrong uses of set expressions and horrible puns – it must be a total pain in the ass to translate even though it’s really quite a short text.
Later on, when I was at the university, I also picked up Dahl’s short stories for adults. Now if you know how trippy, revolting, and fantastic his children’s books get, you multiply that by a hundred and add some murder and dark humor, you get these wonderful tales. I read Skin first, but Kiss, KIss is also great. I think I managed to read most of his short stories, in fact, I was quite obsessed with them for a while. I wish I could write like that.
Ahh, so what makes Roald Dahl’s writing so wonderful? I think it’s a combination of a wicked sense of humor, total disregard for authority figures, and a good dose of craziness. I think you have to be sort of nuts to write stuff like that – but in a good way, you know? :) I know I’ll be reading his books to my kids – when they’re old enough.
I don’t usually talk about the writers’ lives outside of their writing but here’s a fun fact about Dahl: he was a pilot in the British Royal Air Force in World War II.
If you’re not into reading children’s books (though his really aren’t your usual kind-hearted fairy stories), I highly recommend you pick up his short stories for adults because they are amazing.
Don’t forget to check out Becky’s post! :)
Have you read any of Roald Dahl’s books? Or watched the movies, perhaps?
Who’s your favourite childhood author?
I’d love to hear from you! :)