A couple of friends on Facebook tagged me in this challenge last night:
For those authors out there, list 10 other authors/individuals who’ve made an impression on you or who have helped influence your writing in some manner.
This is the sort of tag challenge I enjoy, because it gives me an opportunity to acknowledge some of the influences who have helped me to become the writer that I am today.
I’m a total bookworm, and I know I’ve read many, many magnificent books in my time. They’ve all contributed to my imagination, my understanding of the world, and the wellspring of ideas that flow through my brain and into my words.
The ten I’ve listed here are authors whose work I have consciously aspired to honour in my own writing, either stylistically or in the themes and ideas I regularly explore.
None of the names on this list will surprise anyone who knows me. Those who have read my work probably won’t be too surprised either – not because I have copied them, but because of the “trace evidence” in various poems or stories I have written.
This list is presented in no particular order, because I couldn’t possibly rank them. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
I’m the first to admit that I’m fussy about the poetry I read. I want to experience something moving and powerful in a unique style. I want imagery, colour and movement. I want depth, and I want to be able to feel and hear the poet’s soul. It may be considered “old-school” by some, but I still want to find the music of rhythm and rhyme among the various techniques that a poet uses to deliver their ideas.
So, when I tell you that these are the poets you should be reading, please understand that this is not just a nod to people I like or who have pretty book covers. These people don’t just write poetry— they are poets, and they take their craft seriously. These poets can really take a reader beyond themselves, open a reader’s mind, and influence them so that they see things in a completely new way.
These Six 21st Century Poets You Should Be Reading are not listed in any order of preference. If you want to explore their work further, simply click on the cover of each book.
Author of ‘Sediments’.
Shanti’s poetry is rich and sensory, full of imagery that draws the reader into the emotion and wellsprings of the poet’s mind.
Drawing on mythological themes and elements of Biblical allegory, although it is by no means religious poetry, Shanti explores her place in time, relationships, and the universe through themes of belonging, human vulnerability, equality, and home. She is a master of contrast and balance, weighing sensitivity against images of those things that overwhelm, and confidence in belonging despite her humility, framed within a very real sense of awareness of the immeasurable breadth and depth of the universe.
Patrick Williams Author of ‘Lethal As Love’.
Patrick Williams’ poems are beautiful in the simplicity and honesty of the feelings they convey, even though the feelings they communicate are at times complex and conflicted. There is no pretence or affectation in Williams’ writing, nor is there any strict observance of rhythm, rhyme or other particular poetic techniques. Instead, he uses language and form to evoke a strong sense of love and longing that is almost tangible as he leads the reader on a journey through the highs and lows of the love he so powerfully communicates in these poems.
Some of this poetry is quite erotic, so it’s definitely only for an adult audience, but there’s nothing gratuitous or tawdry about it. One could learn quite a lot about how to love deeply and sensuously from reading ‘Lethal as Love’, but there is also a more sombre lesson to be heeded: nothing lasts forever. It is clear from ‘Lethal as Love’, though, that the pleasure and passion were definitely worth the pain.
Sarah Northwood Author of ‘The Truths We Tell’.
Sarah Northwood gives voice to thoughts and feelings commonly experienced, but often not so thoughtfully expressed, by people in all walks of life.
Northwood explores the ways in which we respond to the situations and feelings that challenge us and those things that fill and complete us. The reality of being haunted by regret and the “what ifs” of life is contrasted with the whimsy of fleeting happiness and the irresistible, transforming power of love.
Through all of this is the reminder that life is what it is: “Feeling the breeze on her cheek she knew, the wind can never be the sun.” (Unique)
Joseph Ferguson Author of ‘Reflections of a Scurvy Bastard’
Ferguson writes with a very strong sense of realism and a degree of world-weariness in his profound poems that work like snapshots of different events and memories. He has a gift for creating vivid images that transport the reader to another time and place, and making it seem absolutely real.
When Joseph Ferguson’s poetry is recognised as ‘classic’ and he is regaled world-wide as a master poet, it shall come as no surprise to me.
Shelby Leigh Author of ‘It Starts Like This’
Leigh’s poetry is thoughtful and often intense in its exploration of love, loss, anger, loneliness and grief, and is highly relatable for anyone who has experienced the breakdown of a relationship or been let down by someone they trusted.
Her poetry and expression are accessible and easily understood, and Leigh’s imagery is often quite stark and raw, but that is where her strengths as a poet lie.
Joanne Van Leerdam Author of ‘Leaf’, ‘Nova’, ‘Stained Glass’ and ‘The Passing Of The Night’.
Yes, that’s me, and those are my own books. Obviously, I write the type of poetry I want to read. Don’t take my word for it, though – I have compiled this description with quotations from different Amazon reviewers.
“Joanne Van Leerdam is a master poet who combines an old-worldly feel to her poetry with a modern flavor.”
“Joanne Van Leerdam’s poems are about the emotional fragility of human existence, about the brittleness of love and about living with love lost. She expresses both the sense of frailty and the strength of resilience in her reflections, as if a lonely survivor on a faraway island.”
“Many of her poems are conventional in structure, with a regular rhyme scheme, traditional yet so sensitive and vulnerable that they emerge as special, standing out like novae in the vast night sky.
Her poems don’t crash through the door, flourishing their creative uniqueness, but in a quiet voice Van Leerdam almost whispers to us to let her poems come in as she both exposes the emotional pains of life and provides comfort for them.”
I’d love to know if you are encouraged to try any of these poets’ works, and if you do, what you think of them. You’re always welcome to leave a comment on this, or any other, post.
When completing an author interview recently, I was surprised to find a question about my mission statement. My immediate reaction was, “My what?”
My next thought was of Jake and Elwood saying, “We’re on a mission from God!” in The Blues Brothers.
Of course, it makes sense. If I can crystallise my goals in writing into a statement, it’s going to make them easier to achieve.
I do that all the time as a teacher. I think about objectives, learning intentions and success criteria all the time. So why didn’t I think about my objectives, intentions and success criteria as a writer?To be completely honest with you, I have no idea.
So, I started to work on my mission statement by writing down some basic questions:
What do I want to achieve?
What do I want my readers, or potential readers, to know?
How do I measure success?
They’re actually really complex questions.
What does success as an author mean? Is it selling a million copies of my books? Well, that would be nice, of course, but it’s not just going to happen without me doing anything to achieve that. Who is going to buy my books if they’re not actually any good? My goal has to be one that I can achieve, and it has to be one that I can measure to see if I’ve met the mark. My goal , therefore, is to write something that people enjoy and benefit from, not to become a millionaire. Because it’s more achievable, and measurable through both feedback and sales, it’s far more satisfying and encouraging than hoping for something that might never happen.
What do I want my readers to know? Recluses are mysterious, sure, but that only has limited appeal. What I really want them to know is that I understand what I’m writing about – grief, love, pain, pleasure, excitement, fear, exhaustion, joy. I want them to know that what I’m writing is real and meaningful. I want them to know that if they’re going through something really awful and difficult, I get that because I’ve been through some awful and difficult stuff too. Particularly in my poetry, I want them to catch a glimpse of my soul, or see some blood on the page – metaphorically speaking, of course. I want there to be understanding between us. I want to connect.
So, measuring success isn’t in how many copies of each book I’ve sold, or how many dollars I’ve made. For me, success is in knowing that I’ve touched someone’s heart, or encouraged them, or entertained them. If they read my horror stories, I want to know that I scared them and they loved it.
The beauty of this process of setting goals and working toward them is that I can see with every review that I am achieving my goal, even more effectively than I can with each sale.
I owe enormous thanks to the person who asked me about my mission statement. They helped me clarify my goals in a way that I had not done before./div>
So, without further ado, this is my mission statement as an author:
Joanne Van Leerdam is an award winning poet and multi-genre author who is committed to writing meaningful and thought-provoking literature for the enjoyment of her audience.
Joanne is a thinker and puzzler, a reader and musician, a traveller, and a teacher who has never lost the joy of learning.
Joanne draws inspiration from her own experiences and observations of the world around her, crafting those ideas into works which will encourage those who struggle to persevere and inspire others to see the world from a new perspective. This is as true of her blog posts as it is of her works of poetry and fiction. She aims to continue to grow her readership into a fully global and inclusive audience.
Originally posted on Unusual Fiction : I’m really excited to introduce our next author to Women in Horror Month 2018 at Unusual Fiction. Joanne Van Leerdam is a poet, writer in many genres and of course horror lover. ? In addition to writing poetry and short stories, Joanne is a teacher of English, History and Drama/Production.…
This is my third author interview in fairly quick succession, but the questions have all been so different that I couldn’t even recycle any! This one focuses on my work as a writer of horror where the others were more general.
I’m really excited to introduce our next author to Women in Horror Month 2018 at Unusual Fiction. Joanne Van Leerdam is a poet, writer in many genres and of course horror lover.
In addition to writing poetry and short stories, Joanne is a teacher of English, History and Drama/Production. She is an active member and performer in her local theatre company.
Her hobbies include reading, music, travel and photography.
Joanne loves travelling, and has visited many places in Australia as well as holidaying in New Zealand, Fiji, the USA and Canada at different times.
Question 1. What drew you to horror as a genre?
I’ve always loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I also loved The Addams Family and The Munsters on TV as a kid – although they’re lighthearted, that macabre sense of humour of mine just adored them.
Horror as a genre is as varied as any other. While everyone raves about Stephen King and Ann Rice – and there’s no doubt, they are what horror writers would aspire to become – it doesn’t mean that anyone who writes differently, or in a less mainstream sub-genre, isn’t worth reading.
Over the past year or so, I’ve read some fabulous horror books and stories by women who were new to me at the time, but they have quickly become some of my favourites.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them before – I’m going to do you a favour and introduce them here. All you need to do to find their books is click on the author’s name.
Jane Jagois a multi-genre author whose novel ‘Who Put Her In?’ has a delicious, slow build and some finely crafted moments of horror. If you’re new to reading horror and unsure of how intense you want it to be, this book would be a great starting point.
D.J. Doyle writes horror stories that are often based in Celtic legend and religion.
Where to start: The Celtic Curse: Banshee
A. Drew is the author of The Dowling House, a story of haunting and possession.
Nikki Landiswrites both paranormal romance and horror. There’s even a little horror in her paranormal romance books, so it’s a win-win if you like both genres.
Where to start: Reaper’s Folly
There are many authors whose work I love reading. My to-be-read list is populated with dozens of books by fine writers, many of them Indies who write every bit as well as traditionally published authors.
Some, though, are on a special list. These are the writers whose book I will buy with the “Buy with 1 click” button on Amazon without needing to read a blurb, check out the cover, or read reviews to see what others have to say.
Without an exception, these authors are brilliant writers who deliver original, interesting and entertaining books every single time. I love the way they use words and the ways in which they stretch and stimulate my mind.
These are my “One Click” authors – in no particular order of preference. They’re all at the top of the list.
J.B Richards – historical fiction
Eva Pasco – contemporary fiction
R.M. Gauthier – mystery/thriller, romance
Aliya DalRae – paranormal mystery/romance
Lyra Shanti – sci-fi/space opera, poetry
Missy Sheldrake – fantasy
S.K Wee – fantasy
T.J. Green – fantasy
D.J. Doyle – horror
Nikki Landis – romance, mystery, horror
Eric Tanafon – fantasy with a paranormal element
Tima Maria Lacoba – paranormal
Miranda Brock – contemporary fantasy
India Emerald – magical realism, contemporary fiction
There are a lot of authors giving their books away – free – on Amazon and various other services.
I won’t be one of them.
To be quite frank, I believe my work is worth more than that. I believe that is true of most of the authors who discount their work. It’s certainly true of almost every book I’ve been willing to buy. For the record, the ones I haven’t liked were not on Amazon – one was a classic and one was a bestseller.
I fully understand not everyone will buy, read, or be interested in, my books. In the same way, some folks don’t like chocolate or pizza or coffee, and not everyone on the planet is going to like or understand me. I’m cool with that.
Even so, I believe that my work and what I have to say through it, are valuable.
If I discount my book, doesn’t that cheapen my work? Doesn’t that just make it less attractive? Doesn’t that make it seem like I don’t think it’s worth reading?
And really – who else works for free? I’d like to see people try to get a plumber, or doctor, or garbage collector to work for nothing because someone doesn’t feel like paying.
So, I have decided that $2.99 is a fair price for an electronic copy of my latest book, and probably the next one.
It’s less than a cup of coffee. It’s less than a slice of pizza or a sandwich.