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Article  •  2 March 2023


Female authors talk about the women writers who have inspired them

In honour of International Women’s Day, we asked female authors to talk about the women writers who have inspired them.

Celebrated on March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating women. The day celebrates ‘the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women’ and is a ‘call to action for accelerating gender parity.’

In honour of IWD 2023, we caught up with some female authors to learn about the women writers who have inspired, impressed and impacted them. Read on to find out their favourites.

Maria Thattil headshot.

Maria Thattil

Glennon Doyle is a female author who has inspired awe with her candour, grit and vision. Reading Untamed was a galvanising exercise in recognising those aforementioned qualities in myself. In sharing her wake-up call, Glennon has woken up many - and has inspired me in my work to do the same.


Kerry McGinnis headshot.

Kerry McGinnis

Mary Stewart, whom I read back in the sixties, was a great inspiration to me. I wanted to be able to write as lucidly and with the beautiful descriptive sentences she seemed to achieve so effortlessly. I remember being delighted with her description of a hilltop castle that sat ‘like a crown on a crag above the meeting waters.’ She wrote a mixture of mystery, romance and mythology and I can still read her works with pleasure. Not always the case after a long span of years.

Jodie Picoult is another favourite of mine, mainly for the cleverness of her plots. The moral dilemmas she poses seem impossible to resolve. I cannot second guess where she is going with them, and that is the hallmark of a great storyteller. But in the end, the apparently impossible situations of her protagonists are settled in unexpected ways, often leaving that aftertaste of pity and resignation that is a factor of life and the more believable for it. Like — yes, the hero had to die or the story is incomplete. We mourn the necessity while appreciating the closure it brings. She writes brilliantly about family interactions and the misunderstandings that can arise from them.


Ali Walker headshot.

Ali Walker

If I reflect on the early sparks that books ignited in me, it is Ann M Martin (author of The Babysitter's Club series) and Judy Blume that come to mind. These are the women who focused on everyday, ordinary female experiences in their work that mirrored my own. These authors were pioneers of a movement that we now take for granted; creating stories that focus on young female protagonists and female supporting characters. These stories inspired me to feel like I could be the main character in my life. This was a message I was given at home, but to have it reflected in the stories I read provided double the impact.


Kirstin Ferguson headshot.

Kirstin Ferguson

The list of women authors who have inspired me is long and diverse, full of brilliant women with something to say or observe in the world. In particular, I love the work of Charlotte Wood who has such a keen eye for the lived experience of women and the nuances and depth of female friendships which might otherwise be overlooked.


Kylie Ladd headshot.

Kylie Ladd

Toni Jordan has long been the writer I hoped to be when I grew up because her books are so sharp, so witty, so clever, but never, ever at the expense of heart. She has that rare combination of a keen eye and a generous soul.


Candice Fox headshot.

Candice Fox

I was a huge Anne Rice fan during my teenage years. Her work was so escapist, and so broody - exactly what I needed as an alternative and melodramatic sort of kid. When I was coming up as an author and desperately trying to climb that mountain I wrote to several authors, and Anne answered. It was a simple note just telling me to keep on, and it was the light from above that I needed. You’ll see a lot of her influence in my early work; those vampy, gothic leanings.


Amanda Hampson headshot.

Amanda Hampson

I had been an aspiring novelist most of my life when I read Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Her joy of writing was evident from the opening description of the smell of ‘hot greasy pancakes’ and ‘powdery-sweet waffles’ amid the carnival confetti. It was the pursuit of that ‘joy’ that convinced me to finally begin my own novel.


While you're here, check out the best New Years resolutions of inspiring women .

Featured Titles

Who were you before the world told you who to be? When women learn to please they forget who they are. Part inspiration, part memoir, Untamed will help all women dare to live a braver, authentic life. From the #1 NYT bestselling author of Love Warrior.
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TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY REISSUE OF JOANNE HARRIS' BELOVED BESTSELLER, with new introduction and first chapter from the new Vianne Rocher Novel, The Strawberry Thief (Gollancz April 19)
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