21 March 2014

Introduction to Friday Fifteen

Today is the first post in an occasional series: Friday Fifteen. Fifteen authors who have influenced you.

Take fifteen minutes and write down the names of fifteen authors who have influenced your reading life (or your life in general). If you've got a little more time, write down a sentence or two for each, explaining why you've chosen that author.

To start, here's my Friday Fifteen:

1. Enid Blyton
The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, Malory Towers … Enid Blyton is the first author I remember reading, and is responsible for my childhood fascination with boarding school, ginger beer, and all things English. She showed me how books could take me to another time and place.

2. Arthur Ransome
I remember being given the entire twelve-book series as a child, and finding them a real struggle to read. I tried reading them again a couple of years later, and loved the stories—again, the way they took me away from my small New Zealand town and showed me something new.

3. John Christopher
I think my love of all things sci-fi started with reading The Tripods trilogy. It was excellent dystopian fiction, the Hunger Games of the 1980's.

4. John Wyndham
I read a lot of classic and contemporary sci-fi in my teenage years, including The Day of the Triffids. I suspect I enjoyed sci-fi because looking at other societies with different values helped me determine by own values and beliefs.

5. Lois Lowry
A Summer to Die, The Giver. Lowry has written some great YA fiction, and her take on contemporary issues spoke to me in a way my 1950's favourites didn't.

6. Agatha Christie
I read and enjoyed many Agatha Christie mysteries over the years. I never worked out whodunit, but her answers always made perfect sense.

7. Frank Peretti
This Present Darkness was the first Christian fiction I ever read, and for a while I thought all Christian fiction must have angels and demons! I soon found I was wrong: there was a whole range of fiction to explore in my local Christian bookshop.

8. Francine Rivers
The Mark of the Lion series was the first fiction I'd read set in Biblical times, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for the early Christians. That remains one of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction: it gives me an insight into life in the past.

9. Georgette Heyer
the undisputed Queen of Regency romance, which remains one of my favourite historical periods. She wrote the ‘rules’ of the genre, and while her style is now dated, I still judge all others by her standard.

10. Jane Austen
Watching the 1995 BBC TV series of Pride and Prejudice introduced me to the classics I'd never enjoyed when being made to read them in school. I found that while I didn’t enjoy everything I read, these books are classics for a reason.

11. Janette Oke
Creator of Christian Historical Westerns, a genre I still enjoy reading.

12. Dee Henderson
Reading Dee Henderson's Uncommon Heroes series was my introduction to Christian Romantic Suspense, and led me to some of my favourite authors in that genre.

13. Margaret Brownley
I won a book from Margaret Brownley in an online giveaway, and that introduced me to the world of NetGalley and online book reviewing—and a pile of new authors.

14. Paula Vince
It was through contact with Paula (after I’d reviewed one of her books on Amazon.com) that I got involved with Omega Writers and Australasian Christian Writers, which has opened a whole new set of doors for me.

15. The Bible (God)
My first Bible was a gift from a school friend, and it was a Good News Bible. I now prefer the New International Version, but this year I’m reading the New King James Version, as part of a read-the-Bible-in-a-year challenge. I'm finding reading a different version highlights different things, so it doesn't seem overfamiliar—a good thing!

Next week we'll be hearing from Jeanette O'Hagan, a fantasy author from Brisbane, Australia. I'm looking forward to it!

Would you like to contribute a Friday Fifteen? If so, email me via my contact page to set a date. Contributions are welcome from anyone—readers, reviewers and authors. It's an opportunity to share some of the authors (and books) which have influenced you, and to pick up some ideas for new authors to read.


  1. Hi Iola,
    What a great list. I shared your fixation with Enid Blyton through Primary School, including the boarding schools and ginger beer. I seem to remember currant buns and treacle toffee were pretty high on her list too.

    The Agatha Christie mysteries were great, and so British. I kept thinking I saw Hercule Poirot when I visited there several years ago. She always managed to surprise with her endings.

    Interestingly, it was Francine Rivers who opened my eyes to contemporary Christian fiction, with 'The Scarlet Thread'. I loved her Mark of the Lion series too.

    Wow, thanks for your #14. So pleased things happened that way. I remember when I realised you were the lady who wrote the lovely review I think it was A Design of Gold, and then you wrote more.

    I'm looking forward to Jeanette's list next Friday too.

  2. Hi Iola - love your list and it has a some of my favourites that didn't make it to my list this week - Enid Blyton (Famous Five, Secret Seven), Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer - and of course the Bible. Looking forward to some more Friday 15s. :)