From the time I was first allowed to read "Harry Potter," I have found J.K. Rowling to be an inspirational and cultivated writer. I grew up reading "The Chronicles of Narnia," and C.S. Lewis' ability to take Christian worldview and make it the centerpoint of a fantasy world, was nothing short of genius.
J.K. Rowling: She was a struggling single mother who had the bizarre idea of writing a story about a boy who went to school to learn magic. Well, almost 20 years later, that bizarre idea has made J.K. Rowling one of the wealthiest women in the world, and that boy and his magical school have become an part of our social culture. When Harry Potter came along, the world began to believe in the impossible. We got caught up in this orphan's story of boyhood to manhood as he lived, learned, fought, loved, hated, lost and ultimately redeemed his own happy ending. We fell in love with Hogwarts and dreamed that one day we would get out letters. We wanted Ron and Hermione to be our best friends, attend Quidditch matches, eat in the Great Hall, go exploring in the Forbidden Forest and the all manner of the other things that J.K. Rowling brought to life in her writing.
As the series continued, Rowling expanded her world, but the ideals of Harry Potter "The Boy Who Lived" never got lost in that expansion. I'm a character person. I enjoy reading about characters, their development, their strengths and weaknesses, their gifts and their flaws and how we can relate to them. While J.K. Rowling wrote about a magical world, she placed within that world real human people every person could relate to.
|Emma Watson as Hermione Granger|
She broke boundaries with her creation of Hermione Granger, the brilliant young witch who didn't care what people thought about her and was noble to the end. Before Hermione, it wasn't cool to be smart. Smart people were the shy, demure wallflowers that no one noticed. Well, there was nothing shy about Hermione Granger and she has inspired legions of girls to not be afraid of being intelligent, of being heard and not conforming to the social expectations. Rowling was able make Hermione a feminist minded character, without the negativeness of female empowerment or women always having to lead. That can be difficult to accomplish.
Rowling's writing, in general is enviable! She is very fluid and balanced and, thankfully, doesn't waste too much time on detail. I'm horrible with dialogue; I'm more narrative in my writing, but J.K. Rowling's ability to write proper dialogue without it coming off as wooden I find very talented. So, while I write, I'm trying to focus more on dialogue and how to make it more interesting and less on narrative.
C.S. Lewis: The great creator of Aslan and Narnia, and a man that made children want to believe that there was a greater world out there. I grew up with C.S. Lewis and his stories of "Narnia." I watched the BBC mini-series on videotape until they were worn out and I also love the the 1979 animated version. While Lewis wrote many other books, "Narnia" was his only children's series and really that is all I have read from him. However, no matter how old I have gotten, I have never lost my love for "Narnia" or for Aslan.
Lewis' story from staunch atheist to devout Christian has been inspirational for decades. He wrote on theology and Christian worldview that is becoming increasingly lost in this day and age. "Narnia," while being primarily a fantasy story for children, also held a great deal of his own worldview. While he denies that he wrote "Narnia" as a Christian allegory, he may not have realized that huge impact his stories of a lion, a group of lonely children and the underlying tones of good v. evil has had on society.
What Lewis' inspires in me as a writer is the ability to see the ordinary (like a wardrobe, a group of kids, a teacher, an attic, etc.) and make something great from it. "Narnia" was written for children, so he had to make it easy for children to understand. He manged to tap into a child's imagination and allowed them to see themselves within this wonderful world. He didn't spend too much time on physical detail, except maybe the color of someone's hair, and he was more focused on the character development and how the character's storyarc turned out in the end. Lewis' writing was very simple and concise, but he also had a great deal of humor that could balance out the dark undertones that all his stories had.
Both Lewis and Tolkien created worlds of fantasy, heroes to believe in, villains to hate and worlds we dream of living in. And yet, in the centerpoint of those worlds and the heart of those heroes they wrote a message of hope, peace and understanding. Both men were veterans of WWI that inevitably changed their lives forever. So years later, they created stories that centered on wars within these magical worlds, but primarily focused on the training of boys, girls, men and women who would fight to better their worlds, even at the cost of their lives.