When I went back to university, the second, more successful time, I was more than a little daunted by the process of being taught by those who had literally written the archaeology books I studied. I have always been someone who listens more than he speaks but, looking back, I do wish I had taken more time to engage with the lecturers.
Once upon a time, it was similar with the authors I read in the fantasy genre. I was intimidated by the simple fact they had crafted the books I was reading, by the fact they had been published at all, somehow getting beyond the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. It seemed a hallowed feat, something remarkable and mysterious.
The publishing world is different now, very, very different — and the traditional publishers are still struggling to adapt. When I take a critical look back and consider those books (and often multi-book epics) I devoured as a teenager, I also remember those which didn’t make the cut, despite being the ravenous reader that I was. There were those which I started and did not enjoy (but would sometimes read to the end, in the hope it might just get better), and those whose blurbs and covers were distinctly off-putting. I won’t name names, but it remains a distinct puzzle how some authors developed the following they did.