Everyone has an idol, or hero: perhaps a Hollywood actress, or a talented athlete, or a scientist, or even just a favourite teacher or a family member. We all have that person (or people) who we look up to and admire, and who we aspire to be more like.
For bookworms and writers alike, those people are often writers: writers whose books we have loved, whose careers we admire, whose creativity we aspire to, or even just writers who we consider to be wonderful people (maybe they make a lot of time for their fans, donate a lot to charity, help young writers etc.). Virtually all of my idols are writers, and as I’ve been an avid reader and writer since I was very young, a lot of them go back a long way, and are still the same people I looked up to as a small child with the dream of being an author one day. Others have been added later as I’ve read more books and found more writing that I love, and have learnt more about the ins and outs of a writing career.
So here are the writers I admire and look up to, and I’d love to know yours!
- J.K. Rowling
To anyone whose read my blog for any length of time, this first one (and a few later ones!) will come as no surprise. I’m an avid Harry Potter fan, and the series was a huge part of my childhood and is probably the main thing that got me into reading. I grew up excitedly awaiting the next book, and there’s been no other series since where I have felt the same level of excitement and anticipation as I would when a Harry Potter book was released.
I think J.K. Rowling would make it onto a lot of people’s writer idol list, not just for the success of her books, but also because she is probably the biggest modern-day Cinderella story around. When she wrote the first Harry Potter book she was an unemployed single mother, suffering from depression and struggling to get by. The Philosopher’s Stone was rejected numerous times before finally being published, and it took the release of two more books before things began to really pick up…and the rest is history. J.K. Rowling is now one of the most successful writers of our time, and is well known to be a positive role model to young people and even lost her billionaire status due to the sheer amount of money she has donated to charity and various causes.
- J.R.R. Tolkien
Yet another one that was always going to make it onto my list is the father of high fantasy himself, J.R.R. Tolkien. Fantasy is easily my favourite genre, and The Lord of the Rings is an absolutely incredible example of a fantasy epic, with probably one of the richest and well drawn worlds ever written. Tolkien’s dedication to his craft meant he was working on his tales of Middle Earth throughout much of his life, and the end result is absolutely incredible, with languages for each race, an entire mythology and a truly epic quest at it’s heart. I only wish I could create something as amazing and epic as Middle Earth, and The Lord of the Rings!
- Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë
I’ve not only been a fan of the Brontë sisters’ work for a long time, but I’ve also been fascinated by their lives (I’m currently reading Deborah Lutz’s book The Brontë Cabinet: Three Live in Nine Objects about their lives, and have previously visited their home at Haworth). In my mind they’ve always been the pinnacle of ‘writerly’ writers, if that makes sense, as they were famously reclusive and eccentric, and wrote beautiful, emotive and often incredibly dark things, that are still revered as great works long after their deaths.
- Brandon Sanderson
It’s no secret that I adore Brandon Sanderson’s books, and as an aspiring fantasy writer, I have serious writer’s envy when I read his them! I only wish I could craft worlds as rich and engrossing as those in the Mistborn trilogy and Stormlight Archives, and could create characters like Vin and Kaladin that you just can’t help but fall in love with.
- Joe Abercrombie
Joe Abercrombie is another amazing fantasy writer whose books have given me some serious writer’s envy! I love the darkly humorous tone of his writing and the way he creates characters that are deeply flawed and should be incredibly unlikable, but somehow makes them likable. He’s a master of complex character creations, and I wish I had even a tenth of his skill!
- Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo is a very recent addition to my writer idols list, as I’ve literally only just read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom (I haven’t even posted my reviews yet!). However, I loved the character creation, humour and tight plotting so much in the Six of Crows duology that I couldn’t not include her on this list! I wish I could write such fun-to-read and engaging banter as you get between the characters in these books, and I’d love to write an epic heist story like Six of Crows!
- Hilary Mantel
It’s easy to see why Hilary Mantel’s masterpieces of historical fiction Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies both won Booker Prizes: they are simply incredible. Her unusual writing style is enviable and an example of some of the most amazing writing I’ve ever read, and the depth of character you see in her depiction of Thomas Cromwell is second to none.
- Elizabeth Gilbert
I don’t read a huge amount of non-fiction, but I’ve read both Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and seriously wish I could write something as incredibly inspiring as those books. Big Magic in particular gave me some serious writer envy, but also left me with the empowering feeling that as a creative person I can do anything!
- Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn is a writer whose career I really aspire to, as she makes a full time living out of being an author entrepreneur, and is a hugely successful indie writer. I love her blog and podcast, The Creative Penn, and have found some of her non-fiction books on writing and publishing hugely helpful.
So do we share any writer idols? Who are yours?