Whatever happened to some of the most well-known authors of our time? Whether you’re thinking about one-novel writers like Margaret Mitchell, famous recluses like Cormac McCarthy, or just authors whose books you’ve enjoyed, it’s natural to think: “Where are they now?” For many authors, writing novels is only one facet of their careers: they may also pen essays, write nonfiction or short stories, or have another career entirely. For others, they may find that they had one story to tell and that once it was told, subsequent novels proved elusive; or their untimely deaths may have cut short their careers.
Whatever the reason, it’s only natural that readers who have enjoyed one book from an author would go looking for another, and that pressure can be intense, especially for authors trying to follow up an award-winning novel or a popular best seller. As you’ll see with many of the writers listed here, it can take multiple decades before you have another book to release to the world, and in some cases, it never happens at all. Whether they’ve kept writing, veered into other mediums, or taken on new roles, you’ll be fascinated to hear what happened with each of the authors below.
The Iranian-born Satrapi published two book length comics, Persepolis and Persepolis 2, chronicling her childhood and adolescence in Iran and France. Persepolis became an award winning publication, and was adapted into a film of the same name. Since then, Satrapi has published two other award winning works: Embroideries and Chicken with Plums (which was also adapted into a live action film). Recently, Satrapi has been acting, directing, and writing movies, including Radioactive, a biopic of Marie Curie.
In 1997, Roy’s first novel The God of Small Things won the Man Booker prize before going on to become the best selling novel of all time by a non-expatriate Indian author. After the novel’s publication, Roy worked in other areas, including television production, activism, and nonfiction writing before publishing her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, in 2017, 20 years after the first. Roy continues to live in India, where she is active in issues surrounding Kashmiri separatism.
After enjoying immense success with her Hunger Games books starting in 2008, Collins went on to oversee the writing and filming for the books’ movie adaptations as well as continuing her work writing for television shows. In May of 2020, she released a Hunger Games prequel: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
After his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings, about the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, James continued writing and producing more critically acclaimed works. His most recent novel, Black Leopoard, Red Wolf was published in 2019 as the first in a planned fantasy series. In addition to writing, James also teaches at Macalaster College and St. Francis College in both schools’ literature and writing programs.
Stockett’s blockbuster novel The Help told the story of Black maids working in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. In writing her story, Stockett had cited her own experiences growing up in Jackson, as well as her friendship with domestic workers. After the book’s publication, Stockett was sued by Ablene Cooper, who had previously worked for Stockett’s brother and claimed her likeness was used in The Help without her permission. A judge ruled the statue of limitation had expired and tossed the suit. Today, Stockett lives in the South and is working on her second novel.
Speaking of The Hunger Games, what happened to the author that many say was its inspiration? In his 1999 novel, Battle Royale, Takami created a competition in which junior high students were pitted against each other in a fight to the death. Though the novel was criticized for its violent nature when first published, it became a bestseller that was eventually turned into a feature film as well as a popular manga series.
In the mid-2000s and 2010s, it felt like it was impossible to leave your house without encountering some form of Twilight mania. Whether they were waiting all night for the sequels to go on sale or packing theaters for the movie adaptations, fans, and particularly young women, quickly made Meyer a household name. In May of 2020 Meyer’s work Midnight Sun, a retelling of Twilight from Edward’s perspective, was released. Meyer had been in the process of writing the book as early as 2008 when 12 chapters were leaked online. Citing a loss of creative control, Meyer had held off on the book’s publication until more recently.
Tyler had been writing for quite a while (her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, was published in 1964) when A Spool of Blue Thread was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015. Tyler’s epic saga of a family gathered to hear stories of the past and make decisions about the future was praised as heartwarming and insightful by a wide range of critics. Since then, Tyler has published her novels Clock Dance and Vinegar Girl (which was part of the Hogarth Shakespeare adaptations project) as well as Redhead at the Side of the Road, which was longlisted for the Booker in 2020.
To learn more the habits and lives of writers, dig into this list of 100 Must-Read Books About the Writing Life. And if you’re looking for more examples of authors who have held other jobs, be sure to check out this post on 7 Best-Selling Authors Who Used to be Educators.