My theme for 2013 is Influential Women Authors.
My definition of influential is any author, classic or modern, who has inspired writers, readers, or the larger scope of culture. Some are personal favorites, or have special meaning to me.
What this list is not: a list of the most influential writers of all time. Rather, this is a collection of influential writers, corresponding with each day's letter.
For the full list of participating blogs, click here.
OK. P was tough. I could have chosen so many great authors: Sylvia Plath, Jodi Picoult, Ann Patchett. The Bell Jar was one of my favorite books I read as a teen, and I've read at least half or more of Jodi Picoult's catalogue. I've only read one novel by Ann Patchett, about a haunting journey into the Amazon, and it was the type of book that made me want grow as a writer.
But for P, I am choosing a more recent influence: Susan Elizabeth Phillips!
She is known as SEP to her devoted fans, and she's been writing contemporary romance novels for 30 years. A few years ago when I scoffed at the entire romance genre, assuming it was all sexy pirates and damsels so distressed their clothes simply fell off. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the name I kept hearing mentioned that would change my perspective on romance novels.
Those readers were right. She crafts wonderful characters. Zany, heartfelt, snarky, empathetic characters.
And she knows how to build tension and conflict like nobody else. The most recent book of hers I read, the love interests don't get together until literally the last paragraph of the epilogue. Even the Happily Ever After is riddled with conflict and potential hazard--amazing! She also has written the most down-and-out characters, and somehow makes their situation so bad, you can't imagine it could get worse. Then it does. And it's funny. Lots of witty banter and complicated family/friendship/business relationships that tap into our humanity so well.
I had no idea when I joined my local RWA chapter that she lived in the next town over and is an honorary member of the group. She teaches a writing craft session with us at least once a year. So not only does she write terrific books, but she is super nice, and very funny.
Most of her series are about characters within the same universe, but each book focuses on someone new. This Heart of Mine is probably my favorite so far, but I haven't yet read The Great Escape, and I'm interested since it's about a character from another novel who left her groom at the altar. You'd think she'd be a mess, but in snippets of Simply Irresistible, Lucy-the-bride-gone-missing calls in to her best friend, and she's anything but miserable.