A monthly roundup of writers past and present that we just can’t get enough of.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Welcome to our monthly blog series in which we share some of our favorite writers, past and present. In Writers of the Month we feature those writers who we always return to and no matter how many times we read them they make us feel something new. The ones who, when they announce a new book or film or television series, we go straight to the preorder page or queue it up. The writers whose Instagram stories we always watch and whose tweets we always retweet. The writers who feel almost like a real friend.
This series is not meant to determine the Best Writer, but rather to highlight the writers each of us at the American Writers Museum are particularly fond of in a given month, a day, a moment. We hope to introduce you to writers you’re unfamiliar with or inspire you to revisit a writer you haven’t read in a while. Perhaps you’ll see your favorite writer on one of our lists!
Edited by Nate King
Kings, a short-lived modern retelling of the Biblical story of David, premiered on NBC in 2009 and had all the hallmarks of the type of prestige-tv series that ran for years on cable channels. It featured Ian McShane as the heavy center of a roiling mass of conflicting matters of state, a young Sebastian Stan before he was Bucky Barnes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe playing a corrupted and terrified prince, but the real star, appropriately enough given the source material, was the Word. The story is about the limits of faith and terrible costs it exacts from believers. Green’s sharply drawn dialogue presages his brilliant work on the X-Men swan song Logan, and re-reading the scripts for Kings, we came across this eerie moment, in which a priest asks the capital’s citizens to quarantine themselves from a plague that is ravaging their city:
“We must sacrifice tonight, so that tomorrow… so that there *is* a tomorrow. We ask you to leave your places of work, and go to your homes. We ask to close your doors to the world; do not open them until the sun rises. Light a candle in your window – a sign to your neighbor that we stand together even as we stand apart.”
—Allison, Program Director
Oscar Hijuelos wrote so movingly about the importance of identity and finding a place in American culture as an immigrant, as in his great enduring novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. It’s a story that sweeps you into the mambo music scene of the 1950’s and vividly captures the pulse of that era. The book actually inspired me to run out and buy the records of mambo maestros like Tito Puente and Pérez Prado, and I had to have them on vinyl! But within the excitement of this world of song and dance, he shows a very real portrayal of the barriers that befall two brothers in their quest for the American dream and their eventual disillusionment. Hijuelos wrote the kind of American story that is hard to accept, one of romantic ideals mixed with lost opportunities.
—Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor
While we might have featured Prince before, the recent posthumously released album Welcome 2 America that dropped July 30th begs for his songwriting talent to be revisited. Listening to the lyrics (and album on repeat since its release) just made me shake my head: How could he be so prescient?! The words layered over some great funk were written before George Floyd and before the current push for racial justice, and yet they could have been written last week. I am often leery of posthumous releases, but Prince’s brilliance just shines and cannot be denied.
—Christopher, Director of Operations
Gene Roddenberry was the first person to take me to the stars. As a kid, I would watch Star Trek reruns with my dad, and I remember being mesmerized by the worlds they visited and the ships they flew. Everything, really. Fast-forward to now, and I have absolutely no desire to go to space. There is quite enough adventure for me right here on Earth, thank you. BUT I recently watched the entire original Star Trek series, and I realized that it actually doesn’t have much to do with space travel at all. It’s about finding peace and understanding and looking toward the future as bright and utopian, rather than the dark place my cynical adult brain often thinks it will actually be. It’s not a perfect show by any means, but it reminded me that we can have hope for the future, which I think we all need right now.
—Ari, Data Operations Coordinator
Sanderson is a powerhouse of fantasy and science fiction writing. This man churns out books at an astonishing rate, seriously. One of the first series I read by him, his superhero Reckoners series, was something he wrote for fun while traveling for other projects. Not only can he produce books at an amazing rate, they are consistently wonderful. If any fantasy readers haven’t tried out his novels, they may still know that he was the ghost writer chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series following Jordan’s untimely passing. Fantasy fans could start with his Mistborn series or The Stormlight Archive, which are both set in the same universe. Science fiction fans would probably have fun with The Reckoners or Legion. If you’re already a fan (or quickly become one), he also occasionally releases new chapters of upcoming works for free through his newsletter.
—Ari, Data Operations Coordinator