Picking Favorites

You know what scares me most about participating in author Q&A’s as I promote my novel “Ellen the Harpist?” Being asked to name my favorite, well, just about anything. Book, movie, book to movie, food, TV show, dish soap, song. No matter what favorite I’ve been asked to name, I experience a mini panic attack as I contemplate my answer.

Questionable Taste

As a kid, favorites came out of my mouth easily, although they were not always built to last. (Childhood Favorite Color: Glitter.) While accompanying my mother on a fabric shopping trip, I succumbed to the gravitational pull of bolts of cheap, sparkly polyester textiles that dreamt of a better life on the dance floor of Studio 54. Maybe it’s my disdain for some of the crap I liked as a child that created my trepidation to pick new favorites as an adult with slightly better taste. Who wants others to define them based on their list of favorite items?

Nothing Says I Love You Like a Little Foreshadowing of Murder

As a musician married to another musician (Favorite Husband: My One and Only), choosing the first dance for our wedding was the toughest chore of planning our big day. Neither of us had a favorite song or piece. We have to love each one we play like a parent loves each child. When we first met — before a rehearsal for a concert, we had folders full of opera overtures and arias (Favorite Opera Composer: Puccini) from which to choose “our song.” Opera night for a harpist is a busy one, and the aria “O Lola” demanded more attention than the cute new bass player I had been chatting with. It’s not too hard to play this piece. The problem is, it needs to be played from memory, and I had only one short break in the rehearsal plus the dinner break to stuff all of the notes into my head. As far as it being the piece I think of when I think of meeting my husband, well, it’s not really the romantic ditty we wanted for our first dance. In a nutshell, Lola was engaged to Turiddu, married someone else while he was away (Oh, Lola!), now he’s dating someone new, and Lola is jealous. Adultery and murder soon follow. Romantic, huh? (In case you were wondering: we chose “Till There Was You.”)


Being judged for picking the wrong thing is only half the horror. Ask me about my favorite TV show, and by the time I’ve added “Drunk History” to a list of a dozen or so other favorites, I’ve outed myself as being a far more committed TV viewer than I’m comfortable admitting. But seriously, I can’t wait until season four of DH returns in September. In the mean time I’m enjoying the heck out of “Brain Dead.” Oh, wait. Was I supposed to name the show that proves I am an intelligent and discerning viewer? I meant to pick “The Americans.”

You Can’t Judge an Author by Her Favorite Books

“Ellen the Harpist” fits into both the contemporary women’s fiction and chick lit categories. Yet, in my beginner-sized list of read books on Good Reads, I haven’t listed any books from either genre. The closest I get is “A Room with a View” (Favorite Book to Movie). I’m sure “A Clockwork Orange” (also my Favorite Book to Movie) will confuse some visitors to my page. I’ve read — and enjoyed — tons of books in both genres, but picking one to be my favorite and sharing its status with my followers is a step I’m having a hard time taking. That said, the influence of both types of books on me was profound enough for me to add my own title to the women’s fiction/chick lit catalogue.

It’s an easy fit for my novel. What I wanted to say and what voice I used hew closely to these genres. If it helps you understand that I really am a fan of chick lit, I will admit to loving chocolate (Favorite Chocolate: Dark and Bitter), wine (Favorite Wine: we jokingly judge wine by it’s ABV at our table), and shoes (Favorite Pair: the Prada’s I bought at a ridiculously awesome discount 15 years ago). I don’t have a thing for handbags, though.


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