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Here are seven author birthdays for this week.
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This Week’s Author Birthdays
Terry Brooks – January 8
On this day, January 8, in 1944, epic fantasy fiction writer Terry Brooks was born in Sterling, Illinois. Inspired by JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, he has written over 50 books (half of which have been New York Times bestsellers), most of which are set in the mythical land of Shannara. The first, The Sword of Shannara, took him 7 years to write and was published in 1977. In 2016, MTV debuted the broadcast cable series The Chronicles of Shannara, produced and directed by Jon Favreau; it ran for two years.
He continued writing tales of Shannara up until 2020, when the concluding volume, The Last Druid, was published. Today he turns 80.
Simone de Beauvoir – January 9
On this day, January 9, in 1908, French writer, philosopher and feminist Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris, France. Her 1949 treatise, The Second Sex, has been called a major work of feminist philosophy. It tracks the treatment of women, and the oppression of women, throughout history. She had a long relationship with existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, but they were not an exclusive couple; she reportedly had numerous relationships with women and men.
She was active in the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s. She died of pneumonia in 1986, at age 78.
Fran Walsh – January 10
On this day, January 10, in 1959, Fran Walsh was born in Wellington, New Zealand. Along with writing partners Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, she was screenwriter for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, and all of The Hobbit films. In fact, as Peter Jackson’s life partner, she has co-authored every screenplay that he has worked on since 1989’s Meet the Feebles. She also co-wrote a few of the songs in The Lord of the Rings, including ‘Into the West,’ which won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2003.
Perhaps her strangest claim to fame: it was her largely unaltered vocals that gave LoTR’s Nazguls their unearthly and incredibly creepy screech. Today, she turns 65.
Diana Gabaldon – January 11
On this day, January 11, in 1952, Diana Gabaldon, author of the popular Outlander series of novels, was born in Williams, Arizona. The daughter of an Arizona State Senator, she was raised in Flagstaff, earned a degree in zoology from the University of Arizona and taught at Arizona State University for 12 years before leaving to write full time (she currently lives in Scottsdale). Her first Outlander novel, published in 1991, was just for practice, “just to learn how”.
In 2014, the 8th Outlander novel was published and the Outlander television series debuted on the Starz network; the 9th novel, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, was published in 2021. Today, Ms. Gabaldon turns 72.
Haruki Murakami – January 12
On this day, January 12, in 1949, Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan. Hailed as one of Japan’s greatest living writers by the rest of the world, he is nevertheless criticized by Japanese literati as being too influenced by Western culture. His works, including A Wild Sheep Chase, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Norwegian Wood, 1Q84, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and this year’s The City and Its Uncertain Walls (translation–this novel has yet to be published in English) evoke themes of isolation and melancholy. His narratives often border on the surreal.
Also an avid long-distance runner and a great lover of classical and jazz music, today he turns 75.
Michael Bond – January 13
On this day, January 13, in 1926, Michael Bond was born in Newbury, Berkshire, England. Although the author of numerous works for both children and adults, it was the more than two dozen books based on his beloved character Paddington Bear that garnered him an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to children’s literature.
He was working as a BBC cameraman in 1958 when his first book starring the little bear from darkest Peru, A Bear Called Paddington, was published; the most recent story was published in 2014, and a major motion picture, Paddington, was released in 2015 followed by Paddington 2 in 2017 (he had a cameo in both). He died in 2017, at the age of 91.
Emily Hahn – January 14
On this day, January 14, in 1905, Emily Hahn was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She was an early feminist who wrote 54 books and more than 200 articles and short stories. She is largely unknown despite living an amazing life. She was the first woman to receive a Mining Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lived tumultuous years in China and Hong Kong (where she cavorted – with her pet gibbon – with the elite while renting an apartment in the red-light district).
She died in 1997 from complications during surgery for a shattered femur; she was 92.
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