International Women’s Day: Influential Female Authors, picked by Female Authors
For this year’s International Women’s Day we wanted to highlight women authors, and we thought the best people for the job would be the amazing women whose books have been published at MJP and Tiny Tree. Who we asked about; the female authors that had influenced them, as well as who their favourite female authors and characters were as a child. So as there‘s not much more needed from us, we’ll let the authors take it away.
BRENDA BURLING AUTHOR OF MIGHT MAKE YOU SMILE
“My favourite female author is Danielle Steel. She is often dismissed as being a writer of little substance and “poo-pooed” by the literary world. She has covered great historical themes in her work including the Russian Revolution (Zoya) and The Titanic (No Greater Love) as well as modern themes including women in business and world affairs. She is the author of well over 140 novels as is the best selling author alive, has overcome huge adversity in her personal life, is a mother of nine and has a worldwide fan base. My favourite of her books depends on my mood, but at present it is Bittersweet. A story of a woman realising she has to make choices, but as always, they come at a price.
As a child, Enid Blyton was my favourite female author. I loved all her works but enjoyed the Malory Towers series, all the characters at the boarding school for girls helped illustrate themes even applicable today, such as achieving goals, working hard, tolerance and acceptance that we are all different. I so wanted to go that school.”
KATY SEGROVE AUTHOR OF HOPSCOTCH AND THE CHRISTMAS TREE
“The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton – it is a tragedy, and I tend to prefer happy endings, but it’s such a beautiful book, I could read it over and over.
My favourite female character from childhood is The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy – as I was obsessed with witches and magic when I was a child, and I loved the fact that she was so clumsy!”
LUCY KEELING AUTHOR OF ROBOTS DON’T SAY PLEASE…
“My absolutely favourite female author has to be JK Rowling, but you’re joking if you expect me to pick my favourite Harry Potter book! I really like Nicola Hulme’s Portia the Pear: it elegantly explores what it is to be ‘liked’ and how things, good and bad, may only be fleeting. I also really like Michelle Hird, her gorgeous book Binx the Jinx is so beautifully illustrated and such a lovely tale about friendship and combating bullying. The fact that they also happen to have the same publisher as me is just a coincidence!
Based on my answer to the question above my answer is likely to be pretty obvious. Hermione Granger. Funnily enough, when I was growing up, my mum could be a little picky about the books she would like me to read. I was allowed to read anything as long as the girls didn’t have to stay at home and bake something in the kitchen, as long as they could be just as adventurous as boys, it was fine. The thing I love most about Hermione is that she is everything: She’s smart, confident, assertive, thoughtful and generous. If Harry and Ron were getting into trouble, Hermione was right there beside them. If I had a little girl, I would love her to grow up like that, forearmed with the knowledge that nothing is beyond her reach.”
NICOLA HULME AUTHOR OF PORTIA THE PEAR
I have so many favourite female authors; “the Brontes, Jane Austen, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson to name just a few. However, if pushed to make a decision there is only ever going to be one answer; Elizabeth Gilbert, without a doubt.
I feel so close to this author in terms of identifying with the messages she relates; I feel I can call her “Liz”. I first discovered Liz when she was interviewed about her best seller Eat, Pray, Love. I read the book and was changed from the very first reading. I then read it again and then broadcast the book to all my girlfriends and pretty much anyone who would listen. It’s a full-on girl power book in which Liz breaks the societal taboos of choosing not to have children and divorcing her husband who, although his perfect in every way, she realises she doesn’t love. She then documents her voyage of self-discovery as she travels the world on her own. Impactful as this book was (and it certainly was for me personally) more was yet to come from my new literary heroine.
When I read her book Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear it literally changed my life. The book serves as a motivational push for anyone who is considering (or procrastinating about) pursuing a creative life or even completing a simple project. Although Liz focuses on writers, as she relates her own experiences throughout, the principles of the book apply just as well to any creative field; painters, musicians, woodworkers even ice-skaters.
I could write pages of appreciation for this book, but I won’t, I have learnt the lessons, and so I will stop here to free up the time to work on my own writing – I have Liz’s permission! Reading Big Magic inspired me to pick up the pen and write. It reminded me of the passion I had lost touch with many years ago. The result for me was to complete and submit a manuscript and then sign my first publishing contract.
Liz is a true teacher, mentor and inspirational guide. She is fearless in tackling subjects most feel uncomfortable to address, and yet she delivers her messages in the most gentle and compassionate ways. Read Big Magic; you never know where it will lead you.
My favourite female character has to be Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice.
Lizzie as she is known by her closest friends and family is a lively character who is intelligent, yet sensitive and has a wickedly playful nature. She easily assesses characters and does not suffer fools gladly.
I read this book as a teenager and saw Lizzie as a strong role model. Her integrity shone through the pages as she heroically dealt with criticism and derogatory remarks from her own mother when she remarked how she wasn’t as pretty as her sisters. Her vulnerabilities were beautifully written by Austen, and I willed Lizzie to carry on and be strong in the face of adversity.
Thankfully, Lizzie finds her happily ever after with her handsome prince, Mr Darcy, so I could finish the book feeling quite confident that dreams do come true.
MICHELLE HIRD AUTHOR OF BINX THE JINX
“I’ve recently finished Margaret Atwood’s; The Handmaid’s Tale. Inspired by George Orwell’s 1984; the dark dystopia had me gripped from start to finish, I love the fact it’s such a cult-classic, it has been re-created into movies, series and even an opera!
Beryl the Peril is my all time favourite cartoon character. The Topper’s answer to The Beano’s Dennis the Menace. Growing up as a top-boy, the chaotic, sassy and fearless character reassured me that’s it’s ok not to be a typical domesticated, neat and tidy, doll-loving girl.