Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Who's influenced me?
One of my favourite books when I was a child was by Pamela Brown who, as a teenager, wrote a book called ‘The Swish of the Curtain’ about some stage-struck children who formed their own amateur theatre company. Another was Ruby Ferguson whose ‘Jill’ books (about Jill and her pony adventures) enthralled me – I desperately wanted a pony at the time! One of my early stories (actually it was novel-length), was an amalgam of theatre and ponies! I wrote it when I was about 11 or 12, called it ‘We Wanted a Theatre’ and I loved writing it.
Looking back, I’d probably say that a major influence in my life was not a writer but a young history teacher at my High School. She introduced me to ‘real’ history when I was about 13, not just boring facts written on the blackboard (yes, we still had those in my time) and to authors like Anya Seton and also Josephine Tey’s ‘Daughter of Time’ about Richard III. She also passed on her passion for drama and the theatre. History became my profession and drama/theatre, particularly musical theatre, became one of my major interests (hence my novel ‘His Leading Lady’ which is set in London’s West End theatre world)
I have devoured books all my life. I tend to get a ‘craze’ on a particular author at different times and read everything of his/hers that I can find. I don’t think, though, that any author has particularly ‘influenced’ me – except that Sharon Kay Penman’s wonderful historical novels have put me off ever writing a historical! Her research is amazing – meticulous and accurate (I can vouch for that!), and she has the ability to get inside the skin of so many characters from medieval British history. I could never hope to emulate her, so I shy away from historical novels or even historical settings, despite my love of history.
The one time I WAS influenced by a writer was when I met Harlequin best-seller Linda Lael Miller on a Civil War battlefields trip in 2008. I confess I hadn’t heard of her before that, but during the week we spent touring the battlefields in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, I got to know her. In between visiting the sites, we started to talk about writing. At the time, I had been writing fan-fiction for about a year and getting good feed-back. Linda said, “Why not try writing a novel again? If you enjoy writing, you might as well get paid something for doing it!’ I came home, dug out a couple of old manuscripts from about 20+ years ago that I’d never finished. ‘His Leading Lady’, one of those, is due for release next June. So thank you, Linda!