As we continue to celebrate National Women’s History Month, I’m sharing my favorite female authors and why they inspire me.
Jane Harper – I discovered Harper after reading a review for her crime novel, The Dry. Set in a parched, drought ridden Australian town, the book is a gripping thriller involving a triple homicide. A former resident who is now a police officer, has come home to pay respects to a former friend who is one of the victims. What struck me about Harper’s writing, is her ability to make the reader feel the heat of the unyielding sun and taste the dust and grime of the scorched Earth, while weaving multiple mysteries throughout the plot. I was blown away by this Australian author debut and look forward to reading her other works.
Harper Lee – I fell in love with Scout through whose eyes the story of To Kill A Mockingbird is told, addressing issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American South. Despite the controversy surrounding To Kill A Mockingbird today, it remains one of my favorite books, but that may be because I first read it as an adult, shortly after the U.S. had elected its first black president. Lee won the 1961 Pulitzer for fiction and in my opinion, Mockingbird exemplifies the great American novel. The book is widely taught in schools in the United States with lessons that emphasize tolerance and decry prejudice. Despite those themes, To Kill a Mockingbird has been subject to campaigns for removal from public classrooms, often challenged for its use of racial epithets. This has occurred in Minnesota, where in 2018 Duluth schools replaced Mockingbird with the novel, Spirt Car.
Jane Smiley – I revere her as a writer for her lyrical writing in A Thousand Acres, and her laugh-out loud humor in her novel, Moo. A Thousand Acres is a modern day telling of King Lear set among the farmlands of Iowa. The book earned Smiley a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1992 for the book, which centers on the daughters of the Cook family. The tale is quite dark exploring the topics of incest and the effects of chemicals used in traditional farming, but I’ve never forgotten it.
I am especially fond of Moo, a satirical and hilarious take on academic life on a campus that very much resembles my under-graduate alma mater, Iowa State.
What I admire about all of these author’s is their ability to create places the reader can see, feel, touch, smell, and hear. Each of them inspires me to continue developing my stories as a writer. Like these incredible authors I want to write books that not only engulf readers, but ecourages readers to expand their minds.