Writers are often asked in interviews to explain which books and or authors have shaped them, or have helped define their writing. Children’s classics like Anne of Green Gables and the Famous Five are spoken of with pleasure, and likewise Gumnut Babies and The Magic Pudding. Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and P.D. James inspire mystery writers. Dickens, Austen, Hemingway…the list goes on dependent on the genre.
I am inspired by how each interviewee replies with passion on the authors and books which have led them to where they are today. But as I read or hear their answers, I am plagued with the question of how I would answer should I ever be asked this question. Because I don’t think a particular book or author has shaped me or my writing. I love books. I love reading. Pure and simple. I always have.
I still remember the smell of the local library near where I grew up, and the anticipation while waiting for the librarian to stamp my book so I could take off home to read it. I escaped into books. Still do. The excitement when Jo March had her first book published; I was rooting for her all the way. The tears that were shed over Black Beauty and Lad A Dog. The heartache is felt even now.
Back then I don’t think the thought entered my mind that I could write or might even want to. I wrote well at school, essays and compositions, short stories. They were simply part of the curriculum, something I enjoyed doing. But to actually publish something? Not part of the picture.
So how and why did I decide to write? What inspired me to suffer the angst of sending off a short story and the painful, lengthy wait for a reply? No idea. And the question of shaping? I think I must be shapeless.