As I delve further into the world of writing, both fiction and non-fiction, I recently asked myself who my writing heroes are. I have too many favourite books to count, too many books that I have read and re-read. But, what does it mean to be one of my heroes? Weirdly, it’s different for each of them, so I’ll describe in detail, but without fail all of their stories have gripped me so intensely that I’ll never forget them. Their stories, their style of writing, has been influential for me and I can only home to emulate certain elements while retaining what is truly Victoria.
Here is a condensed list:
Let’s go back to the beginning. During my childhood there were no other books that could capture my imagination the way that Enid Blyton books could. The Secret Island has been read and reread countless times. I remembering writing down lists of what would make it into my boat, the stores that I’d bring if it were me escaping to the island. I remember the Adventure series. The Valley of Adventure goes down as my favourite of said series with my copy barely hanging onto its cover, well worn by both myself and my mother before me. Blyton was able to distill a child’s need for adventure with necessary camaraderie and friendship. As an adult, the books still grab me, which I think attests to the quality of Blyton’s work.
This is probably an obvious one, but I have Rowling to thank for my reignited love of reading. There were a good couple of years in my childhood and early teen years where I didn’t read. I preferred TV over diving into a novel. Rowling changed that. One chapter into The Philosopher’s Stone and I was hooked. I love the way Rowling was able to develop the characters authentically throughout the series. The kids changed appropriately based on their ages. Yes, some people complain that in one of the books the kids can be whiny, unreasonable teenagers, but weren’t you, too? Exactly. I’m rarely brought to tears by books, but Dumbledore’s death and the ending in A Casual Vacancy brought the streams! In the Harry Potter series the world was artfully constructed, yet the world of a small village in A Casual Vacancy is no small feat either. Rowling captures the intricacies of personalities without the characters becoming cookie-cutter or stereotypes. She has a way with words, that one.
Laugh all you will, but Collins writes a damn good story. What I continue to learn from Collins is pacing and rising tension. Having recently read The Power Trip I was on the edge of my seat. I also noted that by chopping up the chapters into small segments, she keeps the reader saying “just one more” before all of a sudden it’s midnight and you’re done the book. If I can keep the tension rising in my novels the way Collins does, I’d be a happy writer indeed. She also plays with multiple point of views in a way that I admire. How can one remember each different persona so clearly? Collins can.
Perhaps a less well-known writer to some, but Fletcher’s Eve Green goes down as my favourite book of all time. The rich descriptions of Wales had be there. I was in those fields. I was breathing in the air. Wales is now, unsurprisingly, at the top of my to-visit list. Fletcher also has a skill of taking what might seem like a slow plot and keeping the tension rich yet understated. I had no idea I was hooked until I was, if that makes any sense. Great writer.
Like I said, a condensed list. Funnily enough, I just noticed that they’re all female writers. Not intentional in any way. I feel like there will be a part two to this at some point.
Which authors are your writing heroes and why?