Tag: authorlists

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These 7 Writers Started With Very Different Careers

Some of the greatest books ever written were written by accountants. Or lawyers, or construction works. The decisions you make as a little tyke don’t necessarily have to dictate who you’ll always be. Here are some of our favorite writers who did not always think they’d end up as writers, including debut novelists Isabelle Ronin and Leah Weiss! 

 

1. Kurt Vonnegut owned a car dealership

 

Saab dealership

Image Via Digital Dealer

 

Before his groundbreaking novel Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut had a tough time supporting his family. He worked as a journalist for Sports Illustrated, and a PR exec for General Electric. Probably most bizarrely, though, he owned a Saab dealership in Massachusetts.

 

Regarding this part of Vonnegut’s life, his daughter, Edie Vonnegut, said, “We were part of presenting this very elegantly designed piece of technology and it felt very sophisticated. It felt more about art and cutting edge design than about cars.” It doesn’t seem too out of character if you think about it.

 

2. George Saunders worked as a geophysicist and swam in monkey shit

 

George Saunders location

Image Via Metro

 

Probably one of the most famous contemporary short story writers (who published his debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo this year, which is amazing), Saunders got his career start as a field geophysicist working on the Indonesian island Sumatra.

 

Saunders’s time as a field geophysicist didn’t last more than a couple years, though. He retired early after “swimming in a river that was polluted with monkey shit” and getting sick. But the writing didn’t immediately start then. Saunders then worked as “a doorman, a roofer, a convenience store clerk, and a slaughterhouse worker.” What a life.

 

3. Leah Weiss worked as an executive assistant for twenty-four years before writing her first book

 

Leah Weiss and If the Creek Don't Rise

Image Via Amazon

 

Just last month, Weiss published her insanely good debut novel If the Creek Don’t Rise. What’s crazy is she didn’t start writing until she was fifty-years-old. Before she got into writing, she worked as an executive assistant to the headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School. She did that for twenty-four years! At seventy-four-years-old, after a full career as an executive assistant, Weiss has published her first novel. Let that be a call to action for anybody feeling discouraged.

 

4. Stephanie Danler was (pretty unsurprisingly) a waitress

 

Waitress

Image Via Meld Magazine

 

Danler’s debut novel Sweetbitter focuses on Tess, who has just moved to New York and lands a job in an upscale restaurant. She is subsequently sucked into the world of wine, food, drugs, sex, and love. Danler’s previous occupation? Unsurprisingly, it was that of server at an upscale restaurant. She actually met her editor while serving him. She now has a two book deal, a huge fanbase, and a TV adaptation of Sweetbitter on the way, produced by none other than Brad Pitt. 
 

 

5. Isabelle Ronin studied nursing before writing called her away

 

Isabelle Ronin and Chasing Red

Image Via Amazon

 

Isabelle Ronin was studying to be a nurse before her Wattpad story Chasing Red became an international sensation. Ronin was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Canada when she was twenty. Her family were very traditional, and she was raised with traditional expectations—to graduate college, get married, and start a family. She found herself jumping from one thing to the next, looking for something about which she felt passionate. She settled on nursing for a time, however dropped out to pursue writing. Once she focused on that, she told Bookstr, it was magic. 

 

6. Bram Stoker was a crazy actor’s personal assistant

 

PA

Image Via Get Magic

 

The creator of Dracula was better known during his life time as actor Hentry Irving’s personal assistant and manager of London’s Lyceum Theatre than a writer. Henry Irving was reportedly extremely famous and extremely mad. He thought Dracula was dreadful and refused to appear in any adaptations of it. Before his PA life, Stoker received his degree in maths, worked in civil service at Dublin Castle, and wrote some unpaid reviews of plays. 

 

7. Arthur Conan Doyle was a ship surgeon off the coast of West Africa

 

surgeon

Image Via Asonor

 

Like John Watson, the fictitious narrator of the Holmes tales, Doyle was a surgeon during the 1880s. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and served as a surgeon aboard the ship SS Mayumba during a voyage on the coast of West Africa. When he returned, he started taking his writing career more seriously. In 1887, A Study in Scarlet was published and he became known for his Holmes stories. Oh, and he tried to become an ophthalmologist in the 1890s. He failed. He was bad at it.

Lisa with a copy of The Bell Jar.

Forget Oprah, You Can Now Join the Lisa Simpson Book Club!

No really, forget Oprah. Now you can join the Lisa Simpson Book Club! Lisa has been caught reading several well-loved books on the show. The 8-year-old character reads at a 78th-grade level, according to the show, which includes classics like “The Bell Jar” to books on string theory like “The Elegant Universe.”

 

J. K. Rowling and Lisa Simpson.

Image courtesy of Tumblr.

 

Many authors have guest starred on the show as voice actors like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, and Thomas Pynchon. In a tweet from show writer Matt Selman, Pynchon revised the script saying he couldn’t be mean to Homer because “Homer is my role model and I can’t speak ill of him.”

 

Cartoon thomas Pynchon with paper bag over head.

Image courtesy of AV Club

 

Have you read any of these? Maybe all of them? It is never too late to join Lisa’s Book Club and start reading! If you read two books a month, you could be done in less than a year.

 

Lisa with a copy of Brother's K.

Image courtesy of Tumblr.

All these titles have been featured on the show being read by Lisa Simpson.

  1. Anne of Green Gables” by Maud Montgomery
  2. The Brothers Karazmov ” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. The Elegant Universe” by Brian Greene
  4. The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
  5. Ghost World” by Daniel Clowes
  6. The Adventures of Tintin” by Hergé
  7. Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton
  8. Man and Superman” by George Bernard Shaw
  9. Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren
  10. Master Of The Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson” by Robert Caro
  11. The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen
  12. The Baby-Sitters Club” by Ann M. Martin
  13. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  14. The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan
  15. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  16. Jane Austen: The complete Novels
  17. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer
  18. Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales
  19. Robert Pinsky Poems
  20. Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman
  21. A Separate Peace” by John Knowles
  22. Moneyball” by Michael Lewis

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Tumblr

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8 Famous Authors Who Were Also Spies

British author Frederick Forsyth made big news recently when he admitted that he had worked as a secret agent for the MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency. But the author of The Day of the Jackal isn’t the only writer who once worked as a spy. Check out this list of forger secret agents turned writers. You might be surprised to see who shows up!

 

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl flew fighter planes in World War II, and afterwards went to work in the British embassy in Washington, DC. There, allegedly, he worked with British and Candian agents to investigate the political leanings of prominent American women. According to some sources, including his friend Antoinette Haskell, Dahl was sleeping with all of these women in order to get close to them.

 

Ian Fleming

The creator of the world’s most famous spy was a spy himself! Ian Fleming, who penned the James Bond novels that gave birth to the entire Bond franchise, worked for British Naval intelligence during World War II. He helped plot several successful espionage missions against Nazi Germany. 

 

Frederick Forsyth


As we mentioned earlier, Forsyth is all over the news these days – and why wouldn’t he be? The British author has admitted that he worked for MI6 in the 1960s and 70s, working occasional assignments without pay while he was a freelance writer in sensitive international areas. Forsyth drew on his experience to write the bestselling spy novels that made him famous.

 

Graham Greene


There must be something about working for British intelligence that makes a person want to write novels. Like several other authors on this list, Graham Greene worked for MI6. Greene’s situation is unique, though, in that he was already well-known as an author when he began to work as a spy. Greene’s reputation as a man who loved to travel and his career as an author allowed him to come and go from sensitive areas more easily, which in turn made him a valuable asset to MI6.

 

Ernest Hemingway

Did Ernest Hemingway work for the KGB? In Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB, authors Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and Alexander Vassiliev allege that he did. According to them, Hemingway fed information to the Russian spy agency until 1950. He was dropped as a source because his information wasn’t of much use.

 

John le Carré

Like several other writers on this list, le Carré’s career as a spy led to his eventual career as an espionage writer. John le Carré worked for both the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the UK. His bestselling novels include The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

 

Jason Matthews


American Jason Matthews is the latest in a long line of great spy authors who have been secret agents themselves. Matthews worked with the CIA, deep in dangerous foreign territory. Now he’s making a name for himself as the author of espionage novels. His second book, Red Sparrow, came out earlier this year. 

 

Peter Matthiessen


Matthiessen won the National Book Award three times and founded the Paris Review. He also worked for the CIA – and, in fact, the Paris Review was a part of his cover. The Review’s co-founders were never aware of this, however, and Matthiessen always insisted in interviews that the Paris Review was never a tool of the CIA.