Most Influential Women Writers


As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it is important to honor the women whose writing we most admire. I took this question to our friends on our Facebook page, and the response was amazing.
Here are just a few of the responses:

Ramona DeFelice Long – I’d go straight to Margaret Atwood.

Jason Jones- Marilynne Robinson. For the high quality and poetry of her language, and the beauty with which she renders emotional fragility. And Virginia Woolf, of course, for much the same reason.

Carla Spataro- I think this depends on how you’re defining influential? If you’re talking about sales, which equals readership, which equals influence over non-writers then I would say someone like JK Rowling, or Stephanie Meyers (I just threw up a little) or really authors like Danielle Steele and Janet Evanovich. If you’re talking about more literary or activist writers that I’m not sure about. Names that come from students (and for me, personally) are writers like Flannery O’Connor, Annie Proulx, Carson McCullers, Joyce Carol Oates, Grace Paley–I don’t know. The list is long and illustrious. I would say the female writer who has probably influenced or inspired more writers, in general, not just other women writers, is probably Flannery O’Connor.

Elisa Chiusano Steingruebner- Ayn Rand for better and worst. “Anthem” is one of my favorite books.

J.a. Klemens -Among genre writers Ursula K. Le Guin, her commentary and critiques of science fiction and fantasy, and her diagnosis of the flaws that kept it out of the literary mainstream, are still widely read and cited. (She also wrote about a school for wizards, and if I’m not mistaken, that idea might have been picked up by somebody.) Shirley Jackson walked the line between genre and literary fiction in a way that has since become quite mainstream – Chabon, Lethem, Atwood, Julavits, Millhauser are the ones that come to mind immediately. And I have to second what was said above about Flannery O’Connor, who along with Raymond Carver is as influential as anyone on the form and content of the contemporary American short story.

Maria Ceferatti -I have to say Toni Morrison should be included in there. “Beloved” still floors me.

Teresa FitzPatrick -Anais Nin taught me to write the truth. Changed my life.

And for me, MM Wittle, I would say JC Todd for poetry. As soon as I heard her poem, “Pisssing” ( I knew she would be the only person to teach me how to write poetry. For plays, I would go with Theresa Rebeck because she gets slammed by the critics and she is still out there supporting and writing. For novels and fiction, I would say Jhumpa Lahiri.

Anticipating Teen Day in Manayunk with Four Extraordinary Writer Friends


from the blog of Beth Kephart:

Many months ago, I received an invitation to read from You Are My Only at The Spiral Bookcase, a new independent bookstore in Manayunk, PA. I was, of course, keen to meet the store’s very dear owner, Ann. And I was thrilled to have a chance to support a new independent (how many new independent bookstores do you know?) But how much more fun would be had, I thought, if I could be joined in the event by some of the best young adult writers around.

And so Ann and I talked. And so one thing led to another. And so it is with a great sense of anticipation and pleasure that I am sharing news of the inaugural Teen Day in Manayunk, to be held during the afternoon of March 24th. There will be writing workshops for teen authors. There will be a writing contest with winning entries (judged by Elizabeth Mosier and yours truly) appearing in the extraordinary teen-lit magazine Philadelphia Stories, Jr. and on The Spiral Bookcase web; I’ll also be excerpting winning work here. There will be marching bands and media coverage and appearances by some very special souls.

I encourage teachers, parents, and young writers in the Philadelphia area to find out more about the writing contest, workshop, and meet-and-greet by contacting Ann at The Spiral Bookcase. I encourage the rest of you to consider spending time with some truly fine writers along the canal.

Here we all are. There we all will be.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti is best known for her nonfiction books, including the Newbery Honor-winning Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow (Scholastic) and the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Honor-winning They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of An American Terrorist Group (Houghton Mifflin). Her most recent titles include the novel The Boy Who Dared (Scholastic) and a picture book Naamah and the Ark at Night (Candlewick 2011), illustrated by the amazing Holly Meade.

Beth Kephart is the National Book Award-nominated author of thirteen books, including the teen novels Undercover, House of Dance, Nothing but Ghosts, The Heart Is Not a Size, Dangerous Neighbors, and You Are My Only; Small Damages is due out from Philomel in July. Beth, who is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania, blogs at

A.S. King is the author of the highly acclaimed Everybody Sees the Ants, a YALSA 2012 Top Ten Fiction for Young Adults book, the 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor book Please Ignore Vera Dietz, ALA Best Book for Young Adults The Dust of 100 Dogs, and the forthcoming Ask the Passengers. Since returning from Ireland where she spent over a decade living off the land, teaching adult literacy, and writing novels, King now lives deep in the Pennsylvania woods with her husband and children. Lean more at .

April Lindner is the author of Jane, the acclaimed contemporary retelling of the classic novel Jane Eyre and the author of several poetry collections. She is a professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University.

Elizabeth Mosier’s work for young adults includes My Life as a Girl (Random House) and My First Love (Delacorte, under the pseudonym Callie West), as well as numerous short stories in Seventeen and Sassy. She has recently completed a third YA novel, Ghost Signs.

Posted by Beth Kephart at Tuesday, February 21, 2012