18 April 2014

Friday Fifteen: Paula Vince

Friday Fifteen: Fifteen books which have influenced your life or your writing. Today, a warm welcome to Paula Vince, an author from South Australia (who has featured in several of these lists as an influence, so it's only fair we hear what has influenced her!).

1) Enid Blyton

When I was 6 years old, our teacher was reading us The Magic Wishing Chair. I was away sick for a week and missed a chunk. To cheer me up, my mother bought the book so I could catch up on the story myself. That was the start of my love of Enid Blyton’s books. I couldn’t figure out whether I preferred her fantasy or boarding school novels.

2) Laura Ingalls Wilder

It’s inspiring that she started writing when she was elderly. She clearly remembered what happened when she was a little girl and wrote the ‘Little House’ series. If she hadn’t done it, we would have missed fascinating stories about a pioneering family in America travelling west. She’s proof that it’s never too late to begin.

3) L.M. Montgomery

She must be one of the masters of how to make an episodic plot shine. In my teens, I devoured not only the Anne series, but everything L.M. Montgomery wrote. We may think of them as historical stories now, but for her they were contemporary tales set in her own familiar environment, something I have a passion for.

4) Emily Bronte

I read ‘Wuthering Heights’ when I was 15, and it became the text I kept returning to in my quest to figure out how to write well. I thought her plot was perfect and she made her setting shine. I must have spent hours delving into exactly how her second generation of characters in that story were a mirror of the first.

5) Harper Lee

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was another text I tried to pull apart in my teens to figure out just how she did it. Using an 8-year-old narrator like Scout Finch to tell the story of how her father defended Tom Robinson seemed a stroke of genius. And the way Boo Radley’s story finished up tying together with the Finch family’s story was very well done.

6) Francine Rivers

She introduced me to the concept of writing contemporary Christian fiction. I read ‘The Scarlet Thread’ in the mid nineties and it resonated with me. Since then, I read all her other contemporary novels. (I enjoyed her historical novels too.)

7) Jane Austen

She proves that good writing may also be useful from a historical point of view. Her novels give us a perfect glimpse into the lives of young gentry in the Georgian Era. Her characters are masters of witty dialogue too. And she’s another author who was simply writing contemporary stories about places she knew well.

8) J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter series are like a work of art in many ways. I was amazed that, even as an adult, I didn’t want to put them down. I’d be waiting at the door of K-Mart the first morning of every new release. I’d never bother until they came down in price. And I was prepared to tussle with my then 12-year-old son to hold on to the final one, for the thrill of being first to finish.

9) Charles Dickens

He continues to impress me with the volume he managed to produce. Most of his novels ended up as thick as bricks, yet he did all the necessary editing without the aid of a computer. His characters (not to mention their unique names) were often entertaining, and his stories helped to highlight the plight of poverty-stricken families in the Victorian era.

10) Daphne du Maurier

I went through a phase in which I was fascinated with everything British. I loved her exciting plots, with their dashes of mystery and romance.

11) Ruth Park

She did for Australia what many other authors have done for their countries. I loved her ‘Harp in South’ series about the poverty-stricken Darcy family who lived in Sydney during the Depression era. Her descriptions have a way of revealing the beauty of life, even when circumstances leave a lot to be desired.

12) Kathryn Kenny

She’s one of those authors whose name many of us may not recognise, even though we grew up loving her writing. She wrote most of the Trixie Belden series. I managed to collect all of those paper back novels. Her plots never failed to surprise me, and I loved Trixie and all her friends and brothers.

13) Joyce Lankester Brisley

She was the author of the Milly Molly Mandy books. I loved them when I was tiny, and re-read them to my daughter many years later. They are just simple stories about how little it took to impress a small girl who lived in an English village in the early 20th century. Brisley did her own gorgeous illustrations.

14) Janette Oke

She first made me aware that Christian fiction even existed, when I came across her books while browsing through a book shop in my teens.

15) Lynn Austin

Her Christian fiction is among my favourite. She seems to be able to choose any historical period and make it come alive, from the Bible to the Depression era. Her research must be enormous, but she still seems to manage to produce as many books as other authors.

About Paula Vince

Picking up the Pieces - winner of International Books Awards 2011

Best Forgotten- winner of CALEB Award 2011

Paula Vince is the award-winning author of several contemporary Christian romances with elements of mystery and suspense. She lives in South Australia's beautiful Adelaide Hills with her family. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published in April 2014 (and will be reviewed here next week).

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. Great list Paula. I really liked Enid Blyton's Secret Seven, but never came across all of her other books when I was young. Feel like I need to go back and revisit my childhood with lots of great books. Also love Harper Lee and Daphne Du Maurier. thought maybe Louisa May Alcott would pop up on your list, but I guess it would be a very long blog if you added everyone you like :)

    1. If there were 20 slots, Nola, I might have done just that.

  2. Hi Paula. I love your list which include many of my favourites - Blyton, Montgomery, Dickens, Austen, Lee, Oke - and a few I haven't heard of - like Ruth Park and Lynne Austin. It's a hard task restricting favourite and influential authors to 15. The only thing missing for me is the fantasy greats :)

    1. Once again, if we weren't restricted to 15, I would have added some of them too. I've just finished reading a terrific new fantasy trilogy from a debut author. At least, I think he is, because it seems to be all he's written so far.

  3. Thanks for sharing your list, Paula - lots there that I love too.

  4. I'm enjoying these lists too, Susan. Looking forward to next week's.

  5. I don't actually have a volunteer for next week - contact me via the review page if you're interested :)