where the writers are
Authors On the Women Who Inspired Them

By Gina Misiroglu

In recognition of Women's History Month, Red Room asked several of its authors to write about women who inspired them to become writers themselves. It's been my pleasure to shepherd these articles to The Huffington Post's books page, AOL's Black Voices, AOL News, or to Red Room's Originals collection. I hope you'll read each one, and leave a comment on their Red Room blog about their literary heroes and your own.

Rebecca Wells explains how the quintessential Southern Gothic storyteller became "a kind of patron saint for me in a sisterhood of suffering" while she was writing two novels in "Why Flannery O'Connor is My Hero."

"Voice Carry," Alice Hoffman's appreciation of "a hero and an icon," Anne Frank, shows why the story "a very human Jewish girl who longed to be a writer" is one of the most powerful of the 20th century.

Sherry Jones was so inspired by "the most empowered and influential woman in the history of Islam" that she wrote two historical novels about her. Read "From Child Bride to Warrior Woman: A'isha bint Abi Bakr."

About the current U.S. Secretary of State, you may say, "But she's not a writer!" "Yes, she is!" responds Lauren Baratz-Logsted in "Hillary Rodham Clinton: That 'R' is For Resilient."

Meg Waite Clayton introduces her appreciation of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who spearheaded the first women's rights conference, by stating that doing any hard writing (fiction or nonfiction, polemic or comforting) can be compared to "paddling a bathtub."

Far from the "dissolute jazz baby who drank champagne out of her shoe" often portrayed, Caroline Leavitt praises "an original who knew her own mind and didn't care about convention" in "Rethinking Zelda."

Lucy Coats can see a woman born circa 1098 A.D. "dressed in her wimple and robe ... quite clearly in my mind's eye." You will as well after you read her appreciation of Hildegarde of Bingen, "My Hero From Another Age."

The massive, historic unrest in the Middle East is made startlingly personal in Elizabeth Eslami's essay about a brave, necessarily anonymous woman who got out. You will be astounded by the Red Room Original, "The Longest Day of Her Life."

It can be disappointing to meet your literary idols. Lisa Yee didn't even know one of her earliest was still alive. She describes her extremely pleasant surprise in "When Writing Becomes Real."

"Why are you reading all them books? White man ain't gonna let you do anything in them books." So they told Michael Boatman when he read books voraciously as a child. He tells how a groundbreaking science-fiction author inspired him to prove them wrong in "Octavia Butler: Celebrating the Writer Who Changed My World."

Dolen Perkins-Valdez asks "is it politically incorrect these days to praise women whose primary role is that of housewife?" In "Some Real Housewives We Can All Celebrate," she takes the opportunity to "applaud those women who have done an extraordinary job balancing their personal and professional commitments." 

Thanks to all the authors who wrote for Women's History Month, and to all bloggers who wrote about other famous, inspiring women in the creative challenge my colleague Huntington Sharp spearheaded a couple of weeks ago. As I wrote in my wrap-up of Black History Month in February, Women's History Month is only thirty-one days; however, these women and men post diverse, exciting writing about feminist subject every week here on Red Room, and, again, I hope you'll enjoy exploring them all as much as I have.  

Gina Misiroglu, Executive Editor, Red Room