In honour of International Women’s Day, my publisher asked their authors which female author had inspired them the most. For me, without a doubt that would be J.K. Rowling. First and foremost is her sheer storytelling ability. I first discovered Harry Potter when I was in my twenties and serving in the military. A dog-eared copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was passed around my unit in Afghanistan and it drew me and many others in as few books have. Her talent to pen stories with such broad appeal is alone enough to be inspiring.
Still, her flair for spinning a good yarn is actually overshadowed for me by her status as a role model. A single mother, at times jobless, suffering from depression, and she somehow found the time and will to push through all these obstacles to complete her first novel, whereupon it was promptly rejected by multiple publishers? And she kept going. Never mind her stories, her life is a parable of discipline. Whenever I feel down on my own progress, her example gets me back on track. If she can do it, if she can write a book like Harry Potter in bits and pieces while in cafés, then so can we all, if we want it bad enough.
What’s more, she gives back. She’s renowned for her philanthropic activities, dedicating time, money, and support to multiple causes. In this she inspires me not just as a writer, but as a person. Indeed, the world would be a better place if we all emulated her compassion a bit more. In fact, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that J.K. Rowling’s not the female author who’s inspired me most, but one of the people who’s inspired me the most.
(Of course, my wife is the woman who has and continues to inspire me the most…love you, honey…)