Happy New Zealand Book Month everyone! I hope you are all finding time to read lots of Kiwi books. I haven’t had time to read at all, but that’s how life goes sometimes.
This month I would like to celebrate Sherryl Jordan, an Author who has been my favourite NZ author for a very long time. I can’t claim to have all her books, sadly, but I do have 10 of her novels, which is a good start. She writes children’s/YA fantasy books, and I think this is where my love for such books comes from.
I have just been doing a little research on her, and I think one of the reasons she resonates with me would be because she has the same drive to write as I do. She started writing when she was four, and although she started out as an illustrator (she illustrated Joy Cowley’s The Silent One, 1981) writing was her real passion. I love the way she overcomes even the biggest obstacles to get her stories written. In 1989 she began her struggle with Occupational Overuse Syndrome, and I’m sure I read an Author’s Note in one of her books (it must be one of the two that I’ve loaned to friends) that she was told by doctors that she wouldn’t be able to write again, but persevered and kept writing amazing books.
I won’t talk about all her books, but I would like to highlight a few and how they have influenced me as a writer and as a person.
Sign of the Lion is a book that got me through some dark times during my teenage years. I must have read it a hundred times. It kept me believing in miracles, angels, and gave me faith that things could and would get better.
The Raging Quiet profoundly affected me, and I’m sure it has a lot to do with why I was so pleased to be able to learn sign language. Reading it now I can really get a sense for the frustration the protagonist and her deaf friend, Raven, go through and what the process must have been like to make up new signs and how to communicate what the sign means.
Winter of Fire is quite possibly my favourite. It’s one of those books I come back to and read whenever I’m not sure what to read next. For me, because I grew up in a mining community, the mining theme and importance of coal to the people’s survival really resonates with me. The themes of the oppressed fighting for their freedom is always inspiring, and the protagonist is not just a slave fighting for freedom for her people, but she is a woman fighting to be respected in a pre-feminism time.
I’m trying to keep this short, otherwise I will go on forever about all her books I love and why. Some other personal favourites are The Hunting of the Last Dragon, Tanith, Secret Sacrament and Time of the Eagle.
I think one of the reasons the books resonate with me is because they deal with themes I’m interested in, fighting oppression, subtle magic, sacrifice for the greater good or sacrificing the ‘better’ (socially) lifestyle for love. I know that I love writing YA and medieval era fantasy because of my love for Sherryl Jordan’s work.
Also, if you’d like to read a book for a good chuckle, reading The Wednesday Wizard as an adult had me laughing throughout; humour I totally missed as a kid.
It’s a dream of mine to meet Sherryl Jordan in person so I can thank her for writing such amazing books.