Sunday, February 4, 2024

Famous Writers’ Quirks: A Multiple Choice Quiz from Molly MacRae


Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Recently, Susan Van Kirk gave us the Memorable First Lines quiz here on Writers Who Kill. That was so much fun, and I’m essentially lazy (I call it being enormously busy), that I stole her idea and have put together a quiz of my own.

I’d planned to write a post about writers’ quirks. For instance, when I take a break from writing and step away from the computer, I pat the keyboard and tell the work-in-progress that I’ll be back soon (more friendly than quirky, maybe). Here, though, are the quirks of ten famous writers. Can you guess whose? You’ll find the answers at the bottom of the page. (I could have guessed a few but probably would have only gotten one right.) 

1.      Who always slept facing north with the belief it improved creativity and writing?

a.      Virginia Woolf

b.      P.G. Wodehouse

c.      Charles Dickens

d.      Edith Sitwell


2.      Who, when suffering writer’s block, went to a secret closet, chose one from among the nearly three hundred hats inside, and wore that hat until re-inspired?

a.      Dr. Seuss

b.      Wilkie Collins

c.      Esphyr Slobodkina

d.      Charlotte Macleod


3.      Who, when starting to write a new book, will only do so on January 8?

a.      Janet Evanovich

b.      Chris Grabenstein

c.      Isabel Allende

d.      Richard Osman


4.      Who, before beginning work for the day, would lie down in an open coffin because it helped to clear the mind and give focus?

a.      Edgar Alan Poe

b.      Edith Sitwell

c.      Alfred Hitchcock

d.      Mary Higgins Clark


5.      Who insisted on writing drafts in pencil, so always kept twelve pencils on the desk perfectly sharpened and ready to use?

a.      John Steinbeck

b.      Agatha Christie

c.      John Updike

d.      P.G. Wodehouse


6.      Who wrote fiction only on blue paper, poetry on yellow, and articles on pink?

a.      Dorothy Parker

b.      Alexandre Dumas

c.      Colette

d.      E.B. White


7.      Which poet bought 10,000 of their favorite cigars, to make sure they always had them on hand while writing, in order to keep the creative spark going?

a.      Elizabeth Barrett Browning

b.      Robert Frost

c.      Stephen Vincent Benét

d.      Amy Lowell


8.      Who said the best time for planning a book is when you’re doing the dishes?

a.      Agatha Christie

b.      Mary Higgins Clark

c.      Anne Perry

d.      John Grisham


9.      Who wrote standing up because, “Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.”

a.      Mark Twain

b.      Agatha Christie

c.      Dorothy Parker

d.      Ernest Hemingway


10.  Who liked to write in a massive Venetian oak bed with comfy pillows (also with cigars and cocktails handy)?

a.      Colette

b.      Virginia Woolf

c.      Mark Twain

d.      Robert Louis Stevenson


Image by Catalin Stefan from Pixabay

Answers: 1. C, Charles Dickens  2. A, Dr. Seuss  3. C, Isabel Allende  4. B, Edith Sitwell  5. A, John Steinbeck  6. B, Alexandre Dumas  7. D, Amy Lowell  8. A, Agatha Christie  9. D Ernest Hemingway  10. C, Mark Twain

The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes books for Annie’s Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter  or Instagram.


  1. I knew none and guessed only a couple. Failure so early on a Sunday morning will, I hope, be rewarded with success the rest of the day.

    1. I'd heard some of them and still only got one right.

  2. I only got one. Fun quiz though!

  3. I once had to lay down in a coffin as part of an escape room (to obtain a clue, the lid had to be closed and I turned on a blue light). It was quite invigorating--I could see how it would be useful for our chosen genre!

  4. What fun! Somehow, my eccentricities don't seem so strange.

  5. I knew the washing dishes for inspiration--scrubbing tile grout does it for me every time. Great quiz!

    1. Scrubbing grout must be the turbo-charged version of washing dishes. Go Margaret!

  6. Love it. Knew a few and a few I didn't, but I started thinking which quirks might help my writing (okay, it is all about me) ... I don't think the cigars would make a dent.....

    1. The cocktails and all the pillows, though . . .

  7. Failed! Only got one! Ernest Hemingway. I’ve been to his house in Key West. One of the features is his stand up writing desk.