10 Writers I Look Up To

It seems to me that, in most cases, the people we admire and aim to emulate often have no idea how well they’re thought of. Particularly, I think it’s true of women. We often don’t know our worth, and how would we when no one really talks about their inspirations?

I’m here to change that. Because I know that, on the occasions people have given me encouragement and/or praise, it makes a world of difference. It matters because those people you think are so great have just as much imposter syndrome as the rest of us. Sometimes more, if they’re successful.

It can be easy to think that there’s no need to tell someone with awards coming out their ears how their work impacted you – because surely they should already know, and doesn’t it go without saying?

Dear reader, say it. Always tell your heroes how you feel, just in case they’re not feeling so heroic.

I’ve been thinking some more about the specific people I really respect in terms of writing. This is in addition to Colin Dardis and Anna Sheehan, who I have previously recommended on this blog, and in a similar vein to a post I wrote for ‘Women Writers, Women’s Books’ a long time ago.

My list is as follows:

Jen Campbell

I found Jen through her YouTube channel and have been falling in love with her words ever since as she continues to bring out wonderful book after wonderful book – short stories, bookish non-fiction, poetry, and children’s books.

Malorie Blackman

When I started to read as an adult, Malorie’s books were the first I picked up. No matter than most of her writing is targetted at under eighteens. I actually have a picture book by her that I tresure.

Claire Savage

Claire impresses me on multiple fronts as she turns her hand to poetry, copywriting, journalism, and books for children and is fantastic at all of them.

Shirley-Anne McMillan

I must confess that I haven’t read any of Shirley’s novels yet. They’re all on ‘To Be Read’ list, but I’m holding off until I’m published because, genuinely, I’m nervous that if I read them beforehand I’ll get too intimidated by how good they are. Like me, she’s a YA writer based in Northern Ireland who has a book about a pregnant teen. If any other comparisons are to be drawn, I want to be safe in the knowledge its not because I’ve unconsciously riffed off her work.

Elizabeth McGeown

Elizabeth does not just write great, powerful poetry, she performs it as well – sometimes long, lyrically complex verses entirely from memory. I dare you not to be impressed.

Jan Carson

Jan, I think, is a direct descendant of Wonder Woman. She does “all of the things” as they say. Not just writing novels, brilliantly witty and informative blog posts, short and micro-fiction, but involved in some way or other in most of the arts festivals in NI and beyond. I’m not going to even try and summarize all of the pies she has fingers in beyond that, because there’s just too much. I’m constantly in awe.

Amy Louise Wyatt

Amy is a darling. A really genuine, sweet person who – like Jan – works her socks off for the arts community around her. The longer I know Amy, the more talents I discover she has. She used to run a cafe in Bangor where she made incredibly tasty traybakes but gave it all up to start an art studio with her mum and husband. As if putting everyone else to shame with her baking and painting wasn’t enough, I discovered she writes poetry. Really damn good poetry. This woman can write a sonnet about anything and make it sound fabulous.

Claire Allan

It was earlier this year that I discovered Claire Allan. After being a journalist for years, she has made waves in the women’s fiction genre and just made the switch to writing thrillers, the first of which (Her Name Was Rose) is one of my favourite novels of all time. If that wasn’t enough, she also writes a crazy amount of stunningly witty tweets.

Liz Griffin

I came to know Liz through the Buffy the Vampire Slayer community on Tumblr. For years she has been writing fanfiction of a higher quality than some traditionally published books. One of Liz’s works of original fiction is to be included in an anthology soon and I have no doubt it’s the first of many publishing cedits. Watch her, because ten years from now she’ll be doing sell-out book tours across the United States.

Nicola Morgan

Another powerhouse. Nicola has written over 100 books so far and shows no signs of stopping. Alongside stories for young adults, she has cornered the market on non-fiction about stress in teenagers and ran a hugely successful publishing blog for years that, in turn, became a series of books for other authors. I would not be writing at the same standard without the expert advice she personally gave me.

And that’s just the names of people who came to me off the top of my head. I’m sure that if I actively put in more thought, the list would be twice as long, because I’m in the very privileged position of knowing a lot of my peers personally. To everyone on this list, thank you so much!

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