Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

W for Wonderful Women Writers

Cherie Priest
There are a multitude of talented male writers. But let's take a moment to applaud women writers. It's no easy task to raise kids, make the dinner, work a part time job, and find the time to write! Yet, we do it. At the SCBWI events I attend, Lyn Oliver always starts the conference by announcing odd jobs that authors list on their membership registrations: dogwalker, product tester, ghostwriter of erotica, tugboat driver, fortune cookie writer, braille translator... you get the picture. And we come from such varied backgrounds. I'll talk about three writers who inspire me.

Cherie Priest is the author of Four and Twenty Blackbirds and Fathom, two lyrical and haunting novels. Brangien writes of her in Seattle Magazine: "Priest grew up with a pension for horror and fantasy-perhaps because her mother, a Seventh Day Adventist, promised that the Second Coming could happen at any minute." She makes up her own monsters, no pre-fabs for her.
Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman, author of magical realist novels like  Blackbird House had a series of "horrible jobs" and panic attacks every time she had to cross a bridge. She wrote convincingly about her agoraphobia through Vonny, a character in Illumination Night. Hoffman flatly states, "I'm not very good at living in the real world." But we're glad she persists! Here's a favorite line of hers from Practical Magic: "Fall in love whenever you can."

Nancy Werlin
Nancy Werlin is a master of the YA thriller. She also merges thrillers with fantasy. On the nail-biter side is her terrifying Rules of Survival. On the fantasy side is her novel, Impossible. During her teens she worked at an ice-cream store and as a young adult, she sold menswear at a department store. She said she could eyeball a guy and immediately know what size shirt he wore. Important details for writing thrillers, eh?

Who are your favorite women writers? What kind of odd jobs did they have as teens or young adults? 
(A to Z Challenge link)


  1. What a wonderful post for W on the A to Z! I loved hearing the quirky backgrounds of these amazing writers and their struggles too.

  2. Thanks for sharing with us some of the quirks and odd jobs of women writers. I have never read these three writers' books, but now would like to.

    One of my odd jobs one Christmas season (in the 1980s) was a two-day assignment having to wear a Teddy Ruxpin costume in the FAO Schwartz toy store in NYC. My job was to walk around the store while a built-in cassette tape of Teddy's voice greeted people.

    It might sound like fun, but the costume's eye holes didn't line up with my eyes, so I couldn't see shoppers' faces, only from their knees down. But I did get a hug from TV star Don Johnson, who was given a private after-hours shopping tour of the store with his little boy.

  3. Sketchgrrl, your tale of Ruxpin woe made me laugh my fool head off! I once lived next door to the actor who played Raphael in the Teenage Ninja Turtles. His costume (which he still had and put on to thrill the neighborhhod kids) was made of some heavy foam and rubber. He said that he sweated in it sooo much, that he would lose like 4 lbs. a day! And okay, your Ruxpin tape loop hell reminded me of another funny tale of woe. I knew this girl out in LA who was the voice of Smurfs for years. She eventually had a nervous breakdown for it. I kid you not!

  4. Wow, there are so many amazing women writers I don't even know where to start! The first contemporary one that jumped into my head is a favorite of mine - Joshilyn Jackson. Her Southern fiction goes beyond state lines. :)

    Happy A-Z!

  5. Gosh, I don't know but you should totally do a blog series on that!

  6. Ooh, I wish I worked at an ice cream store when I was growing up. I once dated a guy who worked at one. :)

  7. I do like J.K. Rowling and am looking forward to her upcoming novel.

  8. Ursula Hegi is a favorite contemporary writer of mine, and I can't help but think of Grace Paley as the quintessential woman/activist/writer. For poetry I so often go back to Jane Hirschfield and Mary Oliver. And I applaud everyone familiar and unknown that you bring to light here.

  9. Great choices. I've read some of Nancy Werlin's books. They are fantastic. Must check on the other writers.

  10. Stephen, yes, isn't JK Rowling writing something completely different-like an adult novel?? Deb, I will take a look at Ursula Hegi, and Madeline, I have not heard of Joshilin Jackson. Odd spelling of her first name.