Which authors would you invite to dinner?

Who are the authors, dead or alive, that you'd want to invite to a dinner party?

I have a list longer than all four of my limbs put together of authors I'd want to invite over to a dinner party - for various reasons ranging from pure fangirl worship to sheer curiosity as to what they'd be like to break bread with. 

I've heard from several authors, including Chris Cleave (who was interviewed on this blog), that readers are often disappointed when they meet a favourite author. That's because, as Margaret Atwood puts it, you can never meet the same person who wrote the book. They've been and moved on.

Books are like time capsules of a certain stage of a writer's thought process, creative energy and emotional space. Generally, once the story has been told, the author goes on to the next project and by the time the long, painful process of publishing has been endured and the reader gets their hot little hands on a copy, it will have been years since the completion of those early drafts. People can change a lot within the space of months, let alone over two or three or four years.

But that still doesn't stop me from longing to meet certain authors. Just to share a couple of bottles of crisp white while we linger over the dinner table eating pasta and salad in dim mood lighting, talking books and life. What a lovely, Algonquin Round Table(ish) vision!

In no particular order, here are the authors I'd like to dinner date, along with reasons why:

Margaret Atwood
She's one of the authors whom I most revere for her simply brilliant imagination, beautiful, clean use of language and incisive wit. Sadly, I think I would be rather tongue-tied around her. I've heard that she doesn't suffer fools, and I'm sure I wouldn't be able to help foolery around the grand dame of Canadian literature. Most likely, she'd take one look at the look of shining adoration on my face, and head straight back out the door.

John Steinbeck
Anyone who's ever read Steinbeck's famous letter to his son Thom doling out fatherly love advice won't be able to help but be touched, unless they have a heart of steel. The letter can be read here, but in it, he writes with a sensitivity and tenderness which is more than a little touching - "...don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens. The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away." Swoon! 

Stephen King
Who wouldn't want to have Stephen and Tabitha King over for dinner?! He could regale me with horror stories while I drain the spaghetti and stir the sauce. Tabitha would naturally be in charge of dessert. And I could discuss post-apocalyptic fiction with King and when exactly he thinks they might turn the Dark Tower series into movies.

David Mitchell
Mitchell is my current literary obsession because of the mindblowing Cloud Atlas. I strongly urge you to read the book before you view the film, it's just that kind of story. From the interviews I've read and watched of him, he seems like such an intelligent, gentle and well-mannered man, with a real love for Japan (where he taught English for several years and also gained a wife). We would have wonderful conversations about science fiction, philosophy and other writers - once I get past my initial giggly, giddy schoolgirl phase...that might take a while. Or all night.

Philippa Gregory
Okay, blush. For pure self-indulgence alone, I would like to invite Gregory to dinner. Actually, it's probably a toss-up between her and Isabella Allende, but dangit, the author of The Other Boleyn Girl wins! I have a feeling she'll also be very intelligent, well-read and will know a lot about English history. Plus, I can pick her brain about upcoming books. Mmm...more trash-lit please.

Who are your dream author dinner dates?

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