Sometimes an amazing author parachutes—or in this case, balloons— into my life. And when this happens, what a gift it is — a voyage of discovery that enriches and uplifts!
This is exactly how I felt when two enthusiasts-scholars* discussed the career of the amazing author Jules Verne. The talk was hosted by the storied pen company Mont Blanc to celebrate its gorgeous Jules Verne Limited Edition Collection.
Born in 1828, Verne is widely hailed as the “Father of Science Fiction.” His popularity is phenomenal—he is the most translated French novelist in the world and the second-most widely translated author in world literature, right behind Agatha Christie and before William Shakespeare. Altogether, quite a feat!
Interestingly, in his own time, Jules was best known for his plays — in fact, his iconic book “Around the World in 80 Days” began its life as a play. His playwrighting proved highly lucrative and our boy Jules was marvelously successful in his day, so much so that he was able to buy and travel by his own personal, 10-crew steamship!
What writing advice might this endlessly inventive author give us?
Stay curious: Jules was endless fascinated by scientific advances. He loved to research and was constantly learning about the new technology of his time. He also loved blending scientific wonders with geography and travel. He researched his novels with incredible discipline and often wrote delightful descriptions of exotic places he’d never traveled to.
Stay rooted in reality: Verne wanted to bring science, geography, and the the excitement of travel into French homes. He excelled at combining his knowledge of science with his imagination — envisioning what was possible. But his stories were always rooted in reality — they never veered into high fantasy or the improbable.
Stay focused on your readers: Verne strove to both entertain and educate his readers. He never lectured them; instead he lured them into the worlds he created by making them just real enough to border on the possible. He aimed to give his audience a reading experience that was life-expanding and transformative — that opened their minds and hearts. His optimistic message: There are no barriers that can’t be overcome.
Timelessness, a grasp of the human condition, optimism, daring to open up to the wonders of the world — these are the hallmarks of Jules Vernes’ endlessly inventive stories.
Bravo, Jules! Bravo, Mount Blanc! And now, energized and emboldened, let’s all write on!
* Jean-Michel Margot and Peter Schulman. The event was hosted by Alessandra Elia of Mount Blanc.
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