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Ten Fun Facts About Father and Son Authors


Sean and Seamus Kirst, New York state based father and son journalists and authors. Source:

Each week I set out to research and document ten "fun facts" on a topic loosely based on the two books I've reviewed that week.  "Loosely" being the operative word. 

This week I reviewed Not My Father's Son, Alan Cumming's autobiographical telling of two intertwined stories, one about abuse at the hands of his father and the other the true story of his maternal grandfather's death; and Ta-Nehisi Coates' short autobiographical book in the form of a long letter to his son Between the World and Me.

The true story of Alan Cumming abuse by his father Alex, and the real life worries and wishes of Ta-Nehisi Coates for his 15 year old son the central father / son themes of these autobiographical books. The dynamics between fathers and their sons has also helped propel many great works of fiction. There's Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim  in Dicken's A Christmas Carol, Fyodor and his three sons of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, Vito and Sonny in Puzo's The Godfather, Jack and Danny from Stephen King's The Shining, Ned Stark and John Snow from George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. The relationships between these fathers and their sons, and many relationships like them, have helped shape the drama of some of our favorite books (and the subsequent movies / TV shows). 

But how often do we have the case where real life fathers and sons are both great storytellers who both become authors in their own right? Well, there are at least a few examples out there. 

So here then, are Ten Fun Facts About Father and Son Authors:

Father and Son Authors

  1. Father Kingsley, and Son Martin Amis - UK author Kingsley Amis' 1954's debut novel Lucky Jim propelled him into the spotlight. The New York Book Review says Lucky Jim is "regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century". Quite a high bar for a father to set for his son. Yet Kingsley's audience has remained mostly UK based. Son Martin on the other hand made a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly with his 1984 novel Money: A Suicide Note, which Time Magazine added to it's 2005 list of "All Time 100 Novels".
  2. Father William F., and Son Christopher Buckley - Some regard William F. Buckley as a pretentious so-and-so (or worse), while others credit him with providing much of the philosophical underpinning of the mid-to-late 20th century conservative movement. Regardless of your opinion of him you will agree that he was a prolific author, penning more than 50 books before his death in 2008. Son Christopher has numerous journalistic accolades under his belt, including stints as managing editor of Esquire and editor-in-chief of Forbes Life. He is best known for political satire and is himself a prolific author.
  3. Father Stephen, and sons Joe Hillstrom (Joe Hill) King and Owen King - If you Google "father son authors" you'll find a lot of articles about the Kings. Stephen King is of course the unquestioned king of the horror genre, with books like Carrie, The Shining, Misery and many, many others. Son Joe chose to write under the pen name Joe Hill to keep the family connection under wraps, at least as he started out. Joe has authored several novels. His comic book series Locke & Key has been adapted into a Netflix series. Stephen's other son, Owen, also is an author, having both partnered with his father and written on his own.
  4. Father John, and son David Updike - John Updike is one of only four authors to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once. Perhaps his best known work was his early novel Rabbit, Run which pushed the boundaries of graphic sexual writing in a popular novel. It was followed by three other novels in the "Rabbit Saga". Altogether he published over 20 novels and a dozen collections of short stories and poetry. His son David teaches English at Roxbury Community College and is the author of a novel, a collection of short stories and several children's books.
  5. Father Jonathon, and son Jesse Kellerman - The Kellermans are a family of writers. Father Jonathon Kellerman is the author of 40ish crime novels, and an Edgar and Anthony Award winner. Mother Faye Kellerman has authored over 25 books in the Peter Decker / Rina Lazarus mystery series, as well as eight other novels, a book of short stories, and several anthologies. She is an Anthony and Macavity Award winner. Their son Jesse began his career as a playwright before going on to write several novels on his own and some in collaboration with his father.
  6. Father Elmore, and son Peter Leonard - Just as Stephen King is the king of horror writers, many considered Elmore Leonard the foremost crime novelist of his time. Many of his more than 40 novels were turned into movies, including Get Shorty and Jackie Brown. One of his short stories, "Three-Ten to Yuma" was adapted into a movie twice, once in 1957 and then again in 2007. Elmore Leonard died in 2013. Son Peter had a successful career in advertising when he published his first novel in 2007. He went on to leave the advertising field and publish eight more novels.
  7. Father Bruce, and son Jackson Holbert - Bruce Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and the author of numerous fiction and non-fiction pieces published in the Iowa Review, The West Wind Review and other publications. Son Jackson is a poet and editor of The Adroit Journal. In March of 2018 Literary Hub published this interesting conversation between the father and son who read and edit each other's work.
  8. Father Michael, and son Jeff Schaara - Michael Schaara died of a heart attack just shy of his 60th birthday in 1988. Michael wrote primarily science fiction stories and historical novels. His 1974 book The Killer Angels was later turned into the movie Gettysburg. His son and daughter were instrumental in the posthumous publishing of his book For Love of the Game in 1991, which became the 1999 movie of the same name, starring Kevin Costner. Son Jeff Shaara is the author of over a dozen books, primarily historical fiction. This includes two novels which, together with The Killer Angels form a trilogy. Daughter Lila Schaara is an author also, with two published novels.
  9. Father David, and son Nic Sheff - David Sheff is a journalist and author, whose background includes writing for Rolling Stone, The New York Times and NPR's All Things Considered, and acting as editor for New West and California magazines. Sheff's son Nic moved between his divorced parents houses as a child and began to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with his feelings very early in life. His addictions became the basis for both Nic's 2007 book Tweak and David's 2009 book Beautiful Boy. The 2018 movie Beautiful Boy is based on both books.
  10. Father John, and sons Thomas and John Steinbeck IV - Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck is considered a giant of American literature. His 30-some books led to eighteen movies, including East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men and Cannery Row. His eldest son Thomas was an accomplished screenwriter, journalist and photographer. His published work includes a book of short stories, Down to a Soundless Sea. Thomas' younger brother John was also a journalist as well as an author. John IV was drafted into the Army in 1965 and served in Vietnam. He was a journalist for Armed Forces Radio and a war correspondent for the Department of Defense. In Touch, his memoir of his time in Vietnam, was published in 1969. His account of growing up with his famous father was left unfinished on his death in 1991, and posthumously completed by his wife. It was published as The Other Side of Eden in 2001.
So there you have it. Do you have any thoughts on this week's fun facts? Leave a comment below.