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Inspirational Female Authors

March 8, 2010

Today is the 99th International Women’s Day a global day of recognition, celebrating the economic, political and social (and cultural?) achievements of women past, present and future.

Continuing on from Jen’s upbeat theme of yesterday, I’m not going to bemoan the blockages which still exist in women getting published and receiving equal share of the official recognition for the efforts. Instead I’d like to celebrate what we have.

I am lucky to have been surrounded for most of my life by generous and supportive females who have wanted to see my passion for writing succeed – from highschool where my girlfriends anticipated and devoured my desperate, handwritten tales of dark teenage love to the amazingly talented women who read and critique my work, and share publishing advice and avenues now.

To all of you – past, present and future – thank you! May your generosity of spirit and intellectual insight be returned to your three-fold.

Sharing the love around… I’ve invited several friends/writing colleagues (funny how those discrete categories blur into one!)  to share the women storytellers who have inspired them… as the circle becomes ever wider.

Jen Brubacher (UK ex Canada): librarian, reader and emerging writer

The writer I’d like to mention is Gillian Flynn, whose novel ‘Sharp Objects’ was one of the first I’d read that didn’t just address the darkness that could be present in women but actually owned and presented it fully, sparing nothing.  The protagonist Flynn gave us was someone who wasn’t just flawed in a beautiful and tragic way, but a real and ugly way, that actually celebrated women’s sometimes unique ways of destroying themselves.

MD Benoit (Canada): author of Jack Meter Case Files and Synergy

Many women writers have influenced me, as a person and as a writer: Alice Munro, Anne Tyler, Anne Perry, Jane Austen to name a few. But one of the writers who’s had the most influence on my writing, when it comes to inspiration and believing in your craft, is the “Dean of Canadian Science Fiction”, Phyllis Gotlieb, who sadly died last year.

She was 83 and was still writing and publishing to the end. Phyllis was a poet and writer of science fiction, a generous woman who always had time to encourage and discuss her craft. The title of her novel Sunburst is now the name of a major SF Canadian Award. Phyllis inspires me because, even with admitting she’s had dry spells, she kept at it, publishing some of the most astonishing novels I’ve read. Although they are science-fiction, the genre serves only as a backdrop to her study of humanity and what makes us who we are. I have always admired that and strive to be half as good as she was. I think it’s a worthy goal.

Claudia Osmond (Canada): author of Smudge’s Mark

Sally Gardner has most inspired me as a woman author. She has overcome dyslexia and a childhood full of adults telling her she’d never amount to anything. Her writing is brillliant and she is an example of fierce determination to follow your dreams regardless of the negative voices that have been placed in your head, whether internally, externally, or both.

Lily Mulholland (Australia): reader and emerging fiction writer

I’ve wanted to be writer since I was a kid, so I guess it’s no surprise I ended up writing for a living… only not as a fiction writer, which I do for the love right now, but as a corporate communications manager. One day I hope to reverse this imbalance – until then, it’s corporate bumph during the day, and mostly flash fiction at night when the kids are tucked up in bed.

I write in a number of genres and my choices are inspired by a bunch of women authors I read avidly as a child: Ethel Turner, Ruth Park, Enid Blyton, Madeleine L’engle, Judy Blume and, later, Dorothy Dunnett and Jane Austen. I loved their writing because they are/were not only fantastic storytellers, but they wrote in a way I could understand, with strong female characters who spoke to me.

I devoured these writers’ books, even though they may be considered old-fashioned or politically incorrect by modern standards. Their writing styles must have a found way into my subconscious, because I like to write the same way. I want my readers to become attached to my characters and to be surprised (maybe even shocked!) by my characters’ actions and the cunning plots I devise for them, all the while enjoying the adventure – just the way these fabulous women writers did for me.

Abigail Nathan (Australia): Writer and Editor

There are lots of writers who inspire me, in particular there are those whose writing inspired my own career choice and those who I am subsequently lucky enough to work with every day who keep me inspired because they are such a joy to work with. But in terms of personal inspiration, Kim Falconer is one who inspires on every level.

We first met on a discussion board about writers and writing. Although we’ve never met in person, we’ve since spent hours discussing writing in all its forms via various message boards, discussion groups, blogs and chat avenues. Kim’s enthusiasm, insight and passion for writing and life is truly inspirational. She is full of encouragement and wisdom and as a result reminds you of things you had forgotten you, too, were passionate about. She makes you believe you can follow your dreams – and that it is acceptable to do so.

She is an incredibly positive person to be around – even in the virtual sense. Her own open-mindedness and constant questioning – in the form of insightful blog posts as well as her books – inspire not just me, but (judging from the number of comments on those blog posts) many others to also look deeper into themselves, analyse certain concepts from different angles, and open their minds to new possibilities.

Tina Hunter (Canada): Reader and emerging writer

I know this is supposed to be about writers but I have to say the two women who most influenced my writing were my Grandmother and Great Grandmother. You see, my Great Grandma Hunt was the first one to encourage me to write. Back when I would sit at her knee and tell her my stories, she would always ask me questions and help me add new layers to tales. The bug of writing, of weaving incredible stories around the most mundane of events, was caught there.

And, when my Grandmother died, a proud Portuguese women, I realized that I had never told her my dream of writing which up until that time had been nothing more than a ‘sometimes’ attempt at writing while dealing with the normal chores of adult life. I imagined what the conversation would have been like and know that she would have told me to never give up, to fight for what I wanted no matter what anyone else thought. I made a promise on her grave that I would do just that and I haven’t looked back since that moment – almost 5 years ago.

Annie Evett (Australia): emerging writer

I’d not recognised what a big part writing was in my life until Jodi had asked us in one of her earlier columns, if we could identify the beginnings of our love of words and passion for writing had sprung.  I replied with my thoughts in Seeds of Writing.

Theatre, performance and expressive arts such as painting, drawing and sculpture had been my creative outlets; but with writing supporting each step.  Although consciously, Dorothy Hewett has not played a constant role model for me; her life and her work, mirrors so much of mine; it is a little scary.  I was introduced to her poetry and plays at uni, with “The Chapel Perilous” being a major influencer during that time for me.  The main character and I had alot in common;with both of us spiralling downward into mind altering and dangerous depths due to our low self esteem and perception of our place within society.  Dorothys poetry was the first I had encountered which dared to swear, push the boundaries of feminism and question politics and religion.  Although I would not  be as bold to blame or acknowledge her for my own ideals, certainly without her work, I would be a different person with different views.

Becoming a mother and its subsequent journey toward discovering true feminism certainly opened my eyes to a lot of things and they form a large basis for the themes I work with.


Thanks and recognition to Edwina Shaw, Emma Newman and Carrie Clevenger who are no less part of this list!

Who are your favourite/inspirational female writers?

Jodi Cleghorn and thousands of other men and women are currently protesting Facebook Censorship of breastfeeding photos. If you’d like to make a stand against draconian, puritan ideals RSVP here at the event page. And of course IWD didn’t go without a political rant. You can find it at Writing in Black and White.
  1. March 8, 2010 5:31 am

    Thanks for the opportunity to be in a column alongside such talented company (past and present). It’s true about women writers not being held in the same esteem as their male counterparts. As I write this, the first female director to win the Oscar is getting quite drunk. Maybe next year, the 1o0th IWD, might coincide with a further shift in the glacial road to recognition for women writers the world over.

    And, perhaps, next year, you can share more of your own inspirations 🙂

  2. March 8, 2010 6:21 am

    The most important author to me is Tamora Pierce.
    Before I read her book “Alanna: the First Adventure” I didn’t like books; I didn’t like reading.
    That book changed everything. Now I wouldn’t know what to do without books and I reread almost all of Tamora’s books every year. They are a big influence in my life.
    And since her books are fantasy, that’s probably why I enjoy reading and writing in a fantasy setting best.

  3. March 8, 2010 6:53 am

    Great collection of memories and inspirations. And Happy Woman Day!

  4. Stephen Isabirye permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:06 am

    I am glad you mention Enid Blyton as one of your favourite writers. Well, I am glad to inform you that I have published a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (
    Stephen Isabirye

  5. March 8, 2010 6:48 pm

    As a child, Enid Blyton; also R.M. Montgomery (wonderful sensuous descriptions) and Louisa May Alcott.
    Henry Handel Richardson made a huge impression on me when I was a student (Maurice Guest first, The Getting of Wisdom later on)- her characters were so vivid and real. And George Eliot- even though Adam Bede gives me the megrims.

  6. March 13, 2010 9:51 am

    Where abouts are you from? can’t tell from your use of english if its UK English or American English!

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