If you are a steady reader like me, then you have a favorite author(s); the tried and true writing you will come back to because you will always love it. For me, it is Christopher Paolini and Rick Riordan. Most would know these authors of the Inheritance Series (Eragon) and the Percy Jackson Series. These two authors both write in the YA genre, which is not technically my age group, but when you like something, you like something--right?
What I appreciate about these two authors is their ability to capture characters and imagery. The characters in the Inheritance series go through dramatic growth changes that make me value their struggle. Granted the circumstances of Eragon, Saphira, and Roran are rather extraordinary because they take a long road to ultimately fighting a tyrannical leader named Galbatorix. Most of us, at least in the United States, do not have to fight oppressive rulers, but that doesn't make them the characters any less relatable. We each have our mountains to climb and battles to face, and though the characters are not corporeal we take courage from them. If they can do it, so can we. Well-crafted characters give us hope.
The same is true in the Percy Jackson series. Percy is dunked into a world he has been sheltered from and is expected to navigate it with surprisingly little guidance. Yet, each time he overcomes his quests and becomes that much stronger. Again, he's extraordinary because he is a demi-god, but he also is a bumbling teenager. He trials against hatred, prejudice, and abandonment simply because he was born different. Yes, he overcomes the evils of the Greek world; but what I appreciate about his character is that he remains steadfast. While he does learn and grow, he remains steady in his beliefs and self-aware of how he affects those around him. An example of how we can evolve, but also remain true to ourselves.
What I also appreciate about Paolini and Riordan is the world-building. They are novels, that as a reader, I can easily immerse myself in and enjoy. For Paolini, he built a rich world that continually walked a fine line between good and evil, right and wrong, but with plenty of grey area. Riordan built a world of modern-day Greek Heroes. The Greek gods were as faulty as always, and despite their immortality, constantly needed the help of their mortal children to defeat whatever tragedy had befallen them. Again, there were many ways to question the balance of the things I mentioned above.
Ultimately, what makes a good author, for me, is someone who has created a novel that I can come back to again and again, never getting tired of the characters or the world. I might be reading the same thing over and over, but seemingly there is always something new to appreciate each time.
The Inheritance Cycle - Christopher Paolini
The Percy Jackson Series & Beyond - Rick Riordan
The Red Rising Saga - Pierce Brown
Three Dark Crowns Series - Kendare Blake
The Folk of the Air - Holly Black
The Spoken Mage Series - Melanie Cellier
Silver and Orchids - Shari L. Tapscott