Typecasting writers

It is interesting how many famous authors that were largely known for one type of writing were upset about that fact, and wanted to be known for their other works too. For example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became infuriated with the success of Sherlock Holmes to the point that he killed him off, sending him plunging to his apparent doom alongside arch nemesis Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Public outcry led to Holmes’ resurrection, but nevertheless Doyle often wanted his other works – including adventure stories such as The Lost World – to be better known.


In a similar way, certain actors sometimes resent their most successful roles, thinking they overshadow their wider body of work. Alec Guinness ended up detesting the success of Star Wars, to the point that he once told a fan that he would only sign an autograph if he promised to never, ever watch Star Wars again.

I have some sympathy with such people, only because as an author I have written for both children and adults in a wide variety of genres. My most successful novel to date by far is Children of the Folded Valley, but I don’t just want to be known for that. I confess that I sometimes look at the huge amount of reviews for that book compared with the relatively small amount for my other novels and think: why don’t people give my other stories a try?

Folded Valley cover

Of course, such thoughts are nonsense. An author should be grateful for any success or novel they pen that strikes a chord with the reader. It is better to be a one-trick pony than a no-trick pony. Nevertheless, I am always hopeful that readers will upgrade me to multiple-trick pony.

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