Guest Post by Rabia Gale: British Authors I Love

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.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesBorn 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.

Rosemary Sutcliff

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.

Terry Pratchett

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.

Shattered by Rabia GaleBio: 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.

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8 responses to “Guest Post by Rabia Gale: British Authors I Love

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle looks fantastic! I’m sure I’ve read one of her books at some point. Time to read another. Hi!

  2. Catherine, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Diana Wynne Jones, or Rosemary Sutcliff for that matter. Looks like another couple of authors will be going on my monster TBR list!

  3. For me growing up as a kid, the favourite Brit fanasy-genre author was always Tolkien. Also C S Lewis, Arthur C Clarke and – in a general genre sense – Arthur Ransome. Later I discovered American writers; a different style – as different as Chryslers are from Austins, in fact. Writing with joys of its own. But it was always the Brit authors who really shaped what I was brought up with – and who, for me, still define what I think of as classic fantasy literature.

  4. Matthew,

    I so agree. I was shaped by British books and even though I live in the US now and read mostly American writers, I consider British fantasy to be home. Did you ever read Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series? Those books also had a big impact on me.

    I enjoyed Arthur Ransome. I was so envious of the independence those kids had!

  5. Catherine,
    Howl’s Moving Castle is a great intro to DWJ’s work. For poignant and moving, try Dogsbody or The Homeward Bounders. For a more YA feel, Fire and Hemlock (which is a take on the Tam Lin/Thomas the Rhymer tales). I also love Archer’s Goon.

    Siri, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, and The Lantern Bearers (in that order) are a good place to start. Thanks for letting me come and gush about my favorite writers on your blog. As you can tell, I ADORE these books. :)

  6. Arthur Ransome is an author I’ve been planning to write about here…glad to hear I’m not the only one who remembers him fondly! I also loved Tolkien and Lewis, and Susan Cooper too, though I don’t think I read the whole series. “I consider British fantasy to be home” — that’s it exactly.

    Rabia, thanks for the recommendations (and the post)!

  7. Siri,

    My favorite Arthur Ransome book was when the children started their own mining and refining operation. Now THAT was seriously cool. :D

  8. Pingback: Self-published science fiction and fantasy writer Rabia Gale influenced as child by historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff « ROSEMARY SUTCLIFF

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