As part of my blog semi-hiatus, I’m thrilled to introduce my very first guest blogger, Rabia Gale. Rabia is a fellow science fiction and fantasy writer who’s here to talk about her biggest childhood influences. Whether you grew up knowing that a boot was a trunk and a torch was a flashlight, or discovered British literature later on, come on in and tell us about your favourite Brits.
Born in a former British colony, I grew up with the Famous Five rather than the Boxcar Children. In school I studied Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence instead of Steinbeck and Hemingway. My biggest source of books was the subscription library run by the British Council.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that the three authors whose works influenced me the most as a child and as a teen are British. Their books made me think and feel deeply, moved me to tears and laughter, and have earned a permanent place on my bookshelves.
Diana Wynne Jones
My first exposure to DWJ’s work was Howl’s Moving Castle, a book that is wise and witty, humorous and romantic. Sophie, the eldest of three sisters, runs afoul of the wicked Witch of the Waste. Transformed into an old woman—and stripped of many of her inhibitions–Sophie becomes a cleaning lady to Howl, the most heartless wizard in the land, and finds adventure and purpose. From there, I moved on to the tales of the nine-lived enchanter, Chrestomanci, charged with regulating magic across parallel worlds. Her stories, whimsical and twisty, are populated by charismatic characters.
Sutcliff is best known for her historical fiction set in Roman Britain. Her protagonists are young soldiers who make heartbreaking decisions in the face of the tide of history, whether it is the inevitable conquest of Britain by the Romans or the subsequent onslaught of the Anglo-Saxons. Sutcliff is a master at evoking the time and place of her stories. From her, I learned how powerful and poignant a small moment can be, whether it is a woman combing sparks out of her hair, a man crushing a singed moth between his fingers, or a deserter setting ablaze the fires of a lighthouse one last time as Rome abandons Britain.
I was fourteen when a friend pressed Pratchett’s Reaper Man upon me. I wasn’t sure what to expect; the Josh Kirby covers, which I learned to LOVE, indicated that I would get something lighthearted and forgettable at best, or a farce at worst. Instead, I got Pratchett’s inimitable style: intelligence, humor, and insight all wrapped up in compelling characterization, page-turning plots, and on-the-mark commentary about the human condition. I’ve been a fan of Pratchett’s Discworld books ever since, and he remains my favorite author to quote.
Try these writers. You won’t be disappointed.
Bio: Rabia Gale breaks fairy tales and fuses science fiction and fantasy. She recently published Shattered: Broken Fairy Tales, a collection of three short stories. A native of Pakistan, she currently resides in Northern Virginia. Visit her online at http://www.rabiagale.com.