According to my mother's records, I started reading when I was three. I never stopped. Readign has always been one of my favorite activities. I was an only child in the suburbs, so I had a great deal of time to read.
I have many favorite authors and favorite books. Like many women, I enjoy Jane Austen's wit. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is a, almost the, classic 129th century novel about women's experience. In this era, we would say white women's experience. I admire Jean Rhy's Wide Sargasso Sea telling the story from Bertha Rochester's perspective, but I don't love it in the same way. George Eliot's Middlemarch is also a favorite.
But I also am passionately fond of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, especially for Ivan Karamozov's anger at the suffering of children and his tale of the Grand Inquisitor. When I first read that book I was struck by what a different world it describes than the books of the 19th century English women writers. Which world are we living in? I've often wondered.
My favorite 20th century books include Beloved, which I think is the great American novel, or the counterpart to Moby Dick. My favorites also include the works of Amy Tan and Lisa See. Zora Beale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is magnificent. My top favorite contemporay writer is Kamila Shamsie, a Pakistani author living in London. Her range is amazing. She writes about everything from the effects of the atomic bomb on Nagasakie to the family of a young man indoctrinated by the Islamic State. I especially enjoyed her novel Broken Verses, which is about a persecution of leftists in Pakistan. The book's portrayal of a poet is the most convincing I've ever read. And I also look forward to books by Barbara Kingslover.
Of course books about the Arthurian legends are among my favorites, especially T.H White's The Once and Future King and Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon. I am also fond of less well known series by Fay Sampson and Gillian Bradshaw, whose books are each narrated by different characters.
I am a devoted Harry Potter fan. I postponed my vacation for a day to get hold of the last book in the series, which I devoured. If it weren't for Harry Potter, I probably never would have written young adult novels, although I had written stories I had written stories for my friends' children for many years.
I was inspired to write my Merlin's Shakespeare series when project I had been working on folded. I needed to find a new project, I quickly decided on a novel in which Merlin sends a high school girl who loves to act to Shakespeare's England and to the worlds of of Shakespeare's characters. My immediate inspiration was my honorary niece, who has acted in many plays, including a number by Shakespeare, since she was a child. She's now a professional actor.
Of course I've done research about Shakespeare and England in his time, but my writing process is simply sitting down at my computer. I've seldom experienced writers' block. I love writing, especially these young adult novels. They were a joy to write.