Writers have always been the most interesting people I meet, and they almost all tend to be passionate readers as well. They're also impulsive and vibrant and twisty and unpredictable and curious and generally enjoyable to talk to and to get into adventures with.
Reading and writing have always gone hand-in-hand with me. I was such an avid reader that eventually I had to start writing my own stories to fill in the gaps of what was out there for me. The first writer I ever knew was my Uncle John Merkel. He was the coolest person I had ever known in my life. While my main circle of adults was made up of boring, responsible, church-going normal folks, my uncle was wild. He read comic books and played video games and watched Star Trek and had a great office with a home computer(!) where he wrote stories. I so desperately wanted to be like him. He's also the one who got me hooked on reading popular fiction, first with science fiction and fantasy, and then crime fiction. So writers as characters have fascinated me even more.
While I think writers make great characters and provide readers with some behind-the-scenes access to the creative process and sometimes even the inspiration for the book their reading, I think writing is a pretty boring thing to write about. Writers must have adventures and get in trouble and express their personalities. So here are my five favorite books with writers as characters and why I love them so much.
Misery by Stephen King – This is one of the first books about a writer I really remember making an impact on me. Part of that is because this is also the first adult book I really remember being challenged on by my local librarian. As a little kid, it didn't take me long to move from the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew/Bobsey Twins stuff to the dreamy magical land of the adult shelves. I was given virtually free reign in that section, but when I brought up this paperback with that lurid cover of a man in a wheelchair and a shadow of an ax-wielding woman, the librarian asked me if I was really sure I wanted to read it. I was, and it was the fastest I've ever read a book. And it scared me. Still scares me. This should also serve as a place holder for praise for all of Stephen King's books about writers. More than anyone, he has built a career about exploring the life and struggles of a writer through fiction.