30-day Challenge from Supposed Crimes day 6: Which author(s) have inspired you? In what ways?
Similar to my plaint about genre, I can’t say I have loved everything written by any one author. But I have learned a lot about writing from reading, both what is, IMHO, good to do, and conversely what is not good to do. There are also authors for whom I have great admiration for their work ethic or their choice to tackle certain topics.
Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are all authors whose works have expanded my understanding of the Black (I cannot say African-American because CNA is Nigerian) experience, both here in the U.S. and abroad. I also find enlightenment in the stories of Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club) and Sholom Aleichem (Tevye’s Daughters and Yentl the Yeshiva Boy among others) as a voice of the immigrant and European Jewish experiences respectively.
All of these authors have increased my desire to read #ownvoices work. This is a tricky subject in the community of LGBTQ writers and readers. While some non-minority authors have done heavy research in writing their minority group story, there is a unique tone in a work written by a person who has belonged to that minority group all of their life.
This has also shaped what I read in the market when it comes to LGBTQ stories. I started my queer reading with lesbian stories, only to feel disconnected after a while. Very few of the stories seemed to reflect my experience and feelings as a bisexual woman. There was a “sensibility” missing, unless I was reading a bisexual woman author. This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed many works of lesbian authors.
One of the first novelists to really touch me as a bisexual woman from the “lesbian” stories (since expanded to “women-loving women”) was Ann Bannon. While her characters came to love women, her stories carried the idea for me that sexuality and romantic attraction was fluid. This was validating because I felt my own attractions were also fluid, and it became “okay” to feel as I did. When I learned AB had been married to a man, I realized why I enjoyed her “voice” so much: in many ways, she shared my experience and she had been honest about it on the page.
It still wasn’t quite the same though which leads to how all this inspired my own writing. In order to read my experience I realized I had to put pen to paper and express my own unique emotional and physical journey as a bisexual married woman. While I very purposefully do not write memoir, I imbue my books and main characters with my emotional journey in one or more ways, and explore the questions I have through them.