Tag Archive for: Henry James


By Barbara Plum (aka AB Plum)

At a recent writers’ conference, the speaker threw out an epic challenge:

·        Write down our three favorite novels
·        Rank them in order of preference
·        Exclude children’s and YA titles, plus non-fiction, plus our own fiction

Groans eddied around the room. 
Surprised by the reaction, I finished the exercise within minutes and then went a step further. I quickly analyzed several common threads shared by my choices.

I arbitrarily decided to omit memorable characters. In my opinion, characters are the obvious reason that make books unforgettable.

Here’s my ranked list, including some common threads that speak to me.

1.     Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport.
2.     Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
3.     The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Here’s what puts these books on my shelf of favorite fiction:

First, I read them all at pivotal points in my life:
·        Adolescence (just before leaving college)
·        Freshman year in college (admitted to an advanced English program)
·        Illness (at a turning point in my high-tech career)

Second, they’re all literary fiction (a bit of a surprise since I now more often read genre- fiction). The language and writing are evocative and layered in my three faves.

Third, they paint rich portraits of dysfunctional families (a theme I write about and find fascinating to read about).

Fourth, I compare much of what I read to these titles.

So, if I were marooned on a desert island without my magical red shoes, I’d take these three books. (I’d beg to take the King James Version of the Bible too because each of these favorite novels is told there at least once).

What about you? Is coming up with three favorites easier than naming only one? Of the three you identify, can you select one as “The Favorite”?


Barbara Plum lives and writes paranormal romance in the shadow of Google. Books 1 and 2 in Wicked Magic, her latest series are available on Amazon:  
As AB Plum, Barbara writes dark, psychological thrillers. Check out The MisFit Series Books 1-4 on Amazon:


By AB Plum

Sorry, Facebook. Despite your recent pronouncements that longer posts engage people at a deeper level, nothing beats face-to-face conversations. Sorry, Twitter. Good conversation requires more than 280 characters.

These heresies lead me to think about people I’d like to talk to at a dinner party. Politicians, celebrities, and sports figures don’t get invites. Instead, I prefer eight authors. 

In no order, here are the “giants” I would ask for an evening of food for thought. 
Overlook the minor point that many of my would-be guests are deceased.

Louisa May Alcott, how much did you tone down Jo to get Little Women published?

Henry James, was the governess sexually repressed or was her imagination overly active from being isolated with two precocious kids?

E.A. Poe, which is your favorite short story and what influenced you to write it?

Marion Zimmer Bradley, what influenced your decision in The Mists of Avalon to tell the story of Arthur from five different female viewpoints?

Neil Gaiman, how many versions of the first line of The Graveyard Book did you write?

Harper Lee, how much of Huckleberry Finn is in Atticus Finch?

Rick Riordan, when do you plan to publish another Tres Navarre novel?

Charlaine Harris, what is it fans missed in your conclusion of Dead Ever After?

Obviously, I’ll have to host another dinner party with more authors. I’m thinking at least 1,000 more magicians with words and ideas and stories that have stayed with me for years. While I’m working on my list, whom would you invite?


AB will have to postpone her dinner party for a few months until she publishes The Broken-Hearted Many, Book 6 in The MisFit Series. Release date is February 23. Then comes the final installment in the series, The Whole Truth, due in late April.