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!


  1. Lots of interesting inspiration here, Paula. How fortunate you met the writer who coaxed you to write again. I had a similar experience with the late Loren Teague. Had it not been for Loren I would not be here now.
    I am looking forward to His Leading Lady.

  2. Those types of encounters are so destiny-laden. It's heartening to hear about them.

  3. I tend to 'craze' as well...reading a particular author or series and nothing else for a while.

    And I'm still jealous of your meet with Linda...her vampire trilogy is one of my favorite of the genre!

  4. It's often only in retrospect that you realise an encounter was destiny-laden. The whole process of my return to writing was a whole series of different events which all inter-linked.

    And I've tried several times to get Linda to blog for us here, Debra. She keeps saying she will but then has a deadline to meet or another book-signing tour. I'll keep trying!

  5. Hi,

    Nice trip down Memory Lane. Thanks for the ride! ;)

    Destiny, fate, whatever one prefers to call it, who can say what or whom awaits around the next corner. In the name throwing literary game I feel compelled to say I met Jilly Cooper at a village fete, way back when I lived in the Cotswolds. I never so much as mentioned my writing, it was neither the time nor place because she fell in love with my dog. Though I did mention I had an inkling who she'd based her character Rupert Campbell Black on, and that got her going on witty repartee and she did blush!