To celebrate International Women’s Day on Saturday, with its theme of inspiring change, we asked some of our authors to pick out inspirational female authors or characters from literature. First up, Fleur McDonald, whose writing frequently features strong female characters, tells us about not just one, but three writers who have inspired her.
Oh it’s hard to pick one woman who has inspired me in the world of words and pages! To look back on my life and the sorts of books I’ve read, there are just too many to mention.
So, like I did with Friday Pitch, I’m going to ignore all the rules and talk about three women. I hope you don’t mind.
As a child, I could never go past Enid Blyton. I know she gave me my deep love of mysteries. I would spend hours right up the top of our willow tree, reading The Famous Five or Secret Seven. Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm was also a favourite; more so because I could relate to farming side of thing, rather than any mysteries being involved.
I used to re-write Enid Blyton’s stories using my own characters but with her story lines… Aha, plagiarism I know, but I loved those stories so much I wanted to recreate them with my touch. What a good thing no one ever saw them except mum and dad!
As I grew older, that love of mysteries stayed but I found Patricia Cornwell! I discovered her in an airport bookshop when I was flying back from Uni to Esperance – when I had all the time in the world to read! I spent hours in the air, gripping the pages of her books, occasionally breathing heavily; I was as scared as her main character, Kay Scarpetta, was! At times, I was frozen horror, not realising that there were such evil people in the world. Her characters seemed to be so real. I can’t say I ever thought I would like to write like her – I didn’t have the experience or ability to research the way she did (well, she worked it!) but I knew I wanted to write plot and pace like Patricia.
These days I seemed to have mellowed. I still LOVE murder mysteries, crime and detective stories. But I’ve expanded the readership!
Kimberley Freeman (pen name) is an author I discovered a couple of years ago, when I picked up a novel called Wildflower Hill. Now Kimberley is actually Kim Wilkins who writes not only, women’s fiction, but also science fiction and fantasy. She’s had so many books published I’ve lost count and while I can say categorically I do not read fantasy or science fiction, but I was completely blown away with her women’s fiction novels.
Kim writes with such depth and beauty; her characters are real, with settings that I could be in. She made me go back and look at my writing. What could I improve? How could I give my stories the complexity and intensity hers have? Well, I’m still learning.
But let’s go back and look at those women who have inspired me: one from England, one from the US and one from Australia. It’s a fairly broad range and I’m so grateful that my Nana instilled the love of reading me, so I found these incredible writers. They’ve not only given me hours, which have turned into days, of reading pleasure, but they’ve influenced my writing style. Something I could never have known when I turned the first page of Five on Treasure Island.
Fleur’s new novel Crimson Dawn is out next month, the story of strong independent woman who teaches other women the way of the land, but faces a fight to retain her own farm.
Check back tomorrow to hear from Amy Hatvany and find out who her favourite inspirational female character from literature is. And be sure to visit on International Women’s Day itself, when we’ll be giving you the chance to win a fantastic collection of books about or by inspirational women.