Who are your writer idols?

13/01/2017 Lists, Writing 32

Who are your writer idols?

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?

32 Responses to “Who are your writer idols?”

    • Laura

      I love Atwood’s books, and I really enjoyed Stephen King’s book about writing. I still need to read some of his fiction though! I’ve had The Shining for ages, so I’ll hopefully get round to that one soon 🙂

  1. Simona

    I totally get why J.K.Rowling is on your list and it’s on my list as well. I mean, who wouldn’t include her? I also am inspired by S.J.Maas because of her writing style and how amazing are her descriptions and male characters. Oh and also A.G.Howard for her incredible imagination. 🙂

    • Laura

      Yeah, J.K. Rowling is super inspiring, so I’d imagine she’d make a lot of people’s lists! And I love S.J. Maas’s books, I really wish I could write books that draw readers in as much as her books have always drawn me in. Every time she releases a book I’ve generally read it within days!
      I’ve never read anything by A.G. Howard though, so I’ll have to check out her books sometime 🙂

  2. Wendy @ Falconer's Library

    My long-term idols are Ursula K. Le Guin (amazing multi-genre writer and poet, thinker and feminist), and David James Duncan (wrote two of my all time favorite novels before quitting fiction to work on environmental issues), and my newer idols are Patrick Ness (love his books and found him super sweet in person) and Matt de la Peña (doing so much for disenfranchised kids and one of the strongest voices in YA writing ever).

    What a fun topic to explore!

    • Laura

      These sound like great choices! I’ve been meaning to read some of Ursula Le Guin’s books for ages, but haven’t got round to it yet (I was thinking The Earthsea Quartet?), and I have heard great things about Patrick Ness’ books. I love it when writers are just nice people too, and do great things for charities and the environment. It just makes me like them even more! 🙂
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  3. Greg

    What a cool post! Tolkien of course would be on my list, and I didn’t know that about Rowling (her charitable giving). How cool. Brandon Sanderson and Leigh Bardugo are two authors I hope to read for the first time this year. Great list, thanks for sharing it!

    • Laura

      I have still never read anything by Diana Wynne Jones! I love when writers are just genuinely nice people though as well. I’ll definitely have to check out some of her books soon 🙂

  4. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    Leigh Bardugo is officially on my list, after reading The Six of Crows duo last month. I would also include Tamora Pierce, if only because her books were among the first that ever inspired me to start writing. 🙂

    • Laura

      Leigh Bardugo is so amazing! I absolutely adored the Six of Crows duo 🙂
      And I definitely think the writers who start you on the path of writing always hold a special place in your heart! Definitely the top few on this list inspired me to start writing, and they have been my idols since I can remember 🙂

  5. Mimi

    Hello Laura,

    my writer idols are J. K. Rowling (of course!), Stephen King, Mari Mancusi, Alyson Noel, Astrid Lindgren, Cecelia Ahern, Sebstian Fitzek (writes German psychological thrillers), Stephenie Meyer and Nicolas Barreau. <3 There are some more German indie writers I admire, though. But I won't mention them here as they are not internationally known.

    Cool article, by the way.

    Kind regards,
    Mimi

  6. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    I admire J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien mostly as worldbuilders. I think their worlds are EXTRAORDINARY! I do love J.K. Rowling’s Cinderella story and her writing as well. Read and read her book many times but have never been able to get through around J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. 🙁

    I think Elizabeth Gilbert is a great writer as well and I follow Joanna’s blog 🙂 best writing advise I’ve seen!

    • Laura

      Yeah, I think purely as world builders J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien are incredibly inspiring writers! It’s one of the hardest parts of writing fantasy, and they do it so well (and in such detail – especially Tolkien!).
      And I totally agree about Joanna’s writing advice – it’s definitely where I get most of mine from, and I love listening to her podcast when I’m driving to work 🙂

  7. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I think that Rowling’s story is incredibly compelling and makes us root for her just that much more. I also love Robin Hobb—she’s been my idol since way back in my teen years—and Neal Shusterman. I think he’s utterly brilliant!

    • Laura

      Yeah, I think Rowling would be incredible just for her writing, but her story just makes her all the more likable, as you feel like she really deserves her success, and uses her money to help others 🙂
      And you just reminded me that I need to read more Robin Hobb! I read the Assassin’s Apprentice ages ago and really enjoyed it, but still haven’t read any more of the series. I have never read any Neal Shusterman though, so I may have to check out his books 🙂

  8. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    This is really interesting, because I don’t know if I have ever really given thought to writer idols before! I guess I would have to say Suzanne Collins because… how could I not hahah. Neal Shusterman, because his mind works in ways that I can only dream about- I don’t think his level of genius is something you come across every day. And Lauren Oliver and Patrick Ness just for their incredible abilities to tell a captivating story. Cat Winters for being SO amazing at all things historical- and somehow making me FEEL like I am in the past. This was so fun to think about, I love this!

    • Laura

      Suzanne Collins is a good one! The Hunger Games is the kind of story I always wish I had thought up! It’s just such a great, dramatic concept.
      And you’re the second person to say Neal Shusterman but I’ve never read any of his books…I really need to check them out! I’ve also never read any Patrick Ness books, but so many people love him I really feel like I ought to have done. I have never heard of Cat Winters though, but I love historical fiction, so I may have to take a look at her books too! 🙂
      I just added a lot of books to my TBR list there! 🙂

  9. Jackie

    I think I have two writer idols. JK Rowling for sure! And the other would be Bill Bryson. He writes non-fiction, usually about travel, but he’s written some history books as well. He’s hilarious, and is the only other author whose hardcover books I will buy because I don’t want to wait for the paperbacks.

    • Laura

      I have never read any Bill Bryson, but I have heard such great things about his books. I’ll definitely have to give them a try soon! 🙂

  10. Blaise Haddow

    While I appreciate what you’re trying to do with the statement, saying that everyone has an idol feels… alienating, which I may be snesitive to because I personally am not a huge fan of absolutes like that. I don’t have an idol. I apprecoate authors’ works and interactions with others, but to say I look up to them is going a bit far.

    I’m also curious: how do you balance seeing someone as an idol/hero with their problematic behavior? It’s one of the reasons I don’t have idols, so I find the perspective of those who do really interesting 🙂

    Best,
    Blaise

    • Laura

      Hmmm…I guess I just assumed everyone did have people that they look up to? Even if it’s a family member or something like that. It’s definitely interesting to hear from someone who doesn’t! 🙂
      I guess I haven’t really thought about the idea of problematic behaviour too much? As far as I know, not of the people on this list have done anything too problematic (that’s publicly known about them anyway), and mostly I just admire them for their writing. It’s definitely an interesting thing to think about though, especially when people have people like rock stars as their idols, who maybe do drugs, or people on reality shows etc., who maybe aren’t great role models.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

      • Blaise Haddow

        That’s totally fair -nodnods- I’m not saying that these people have presented problematic behavior (though I’ve been hearing a lot of criticism about JK Rowling’s representation and lack thereof when it comes to minorities), I was just curious about it generally. Your point about rock stars and reality tv actors is also really interesting. It also corresponds to the content of the books, I think–to what degree do we allow content in books but not of the people who create them, yanno?

        Thanks for the interesting discussion! 🙂

        • Laura

          Yeah, it’s so interesting to think about those sorts of things, so thanks for joining in with the discussion! 🙂

  11. Kaja

    Those are some great idols! 🙂 I hope you’ll be as successful as them one day.

    Personally, I don’t have writing idols as much as I have favourite authors to read. There are a lot of them from various genres. But I do admire certain authors for how they interact with their readers and I think that’s something worth copying (without being a copycat). Victoria Schwab is great, as are Rainbow Rowell, Lauren Layne, and Susan Dennard. I think their social media presence is just A+.

    • Laura

      Thanks! 🙂
      Yeah, I think writers who make a lot of time for their fans and are really present on social media are definitely cause for admiration. I think it just shows that they really appreciate their readers!

  12. S. J. Reese

    J. K. Rowling is on my list for sure, but I also admire those who are closer to home (for me), such as Janet Frame and Elizabeth Knox. I can’t say I like Janet Frame’s writing exactly – it’s too depressing for my tastes – but from what I know of her life I admire her audacity and perseverance in the face of some pretty painful experiences. And Elizabeth Knox is one of those Writers I Want To Write Like 🙂

    Apart from them, I’d have to say Louis de Bernieres and Michael Ondaatje are right up there for me as well.

    • Laura

      Awesome writer idols! 🙂
      I think sometimes we can admire writers just for the way they’ve kept writing and got through some pretty bad stuff, even if their writing isn’t necessarily to our taste. And I definitely have so many ‘Writers I Want To Write Like’! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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