I’m delighted to share blog space today with dear friend and talented author of the Journey to the West trilogy, Junying Kirk, to share the literary influences that shaped her career. Over to you, Junying:
When friend and fellow author Jane asked me if I could do a guest post on top literary influences on my writing career, I immediately agreed. Piece of cake, I thought. After all, I enjoy talking about my writing idols and books I consider master pieces.
However, when I actually sit down in front of my keyboard and sort the many favourite books out in my head, I begin to wonder: Would I be able to highlight just how influential some of them have been, and not to miss out books I have really loved in my long reading life?
An avid deader, an Indie author with a trilogy under my belt, and a super keen world traveller, I’ve found a great many books of fiction and authors whose life and works inspire me constantly. Where shall I begin?
One of the first English classic works I have read, in English, was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Is there anyone among the educated class who has not heard of Jane Eyre or watched one of its many films or TV versions? In The Same Moon, I featured passages from this novel and how it inspired my heroine Pearl Zhang as she fell in love in China for the first time.
As a fortunate English Literature student, I was able to read a great many literary masters. Both Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy have left their lasting marks on my young, impressionable mind, sowing the seed of my love for English classics and nurturing it over the years. So much so that my dissertation for my first degree was on the works of Thomas Hardy.
Naturally as a native born Chinese, I grew up with well-known Chinese writers and many classic legends, such as Journey to the West and Water Margins, even during the years of Cultural Revolution when many great literature were banned. The stories of Money King has been much loved by all generations of Chinese people. No exception for me, hence a ‘tribute’ to call my trilogy “Journey to the West”, despite time and space, not to mention genre and language have set them apart.
In China, especially during the time when we were friendly with the former Soviet Union, we have translated many Russian greats including that of Leo Tolstoy. As a student, I devoured Anna Karenina and War and Peace, epic they were. Who could ever forget one of the most memorable beginnings of fiction in Anna Korenina? -“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Last but not least, I have to include Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy as my most recent influence – I love the sheer scale and scope of his works, the creation of a modern-day kick-ass heroine (Lisbeth Salander), and addressing many of the world’s pertinent problems: corruption, abuses of power, discrimination and violence against women and so on. I’d die happy if I produce just one book like his :). With my 3rd book Land of Hope, I unreservedly give credit to this man and a number of other crime fiction authors from Scandinavia.
There are so many more great authors and their ingenious work I love, so I’ll add one more book to my very short list before I conclude this post. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is right there on the shelf of my great literary influences.
About the author:
Junying Kirk grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant. Currently working as a professional interpreter, her passion has always been reading & writing books, and world travel. Her ‘Journey to the West’ trilogy, ‘The Same Moon’, ‘Trials of Life’ and ‘Land of Hope’ have been published both elctronically and in print. She lives in Birmingham, UK with her English husband.