Have you ever been so inspired by an author’s work that you wish you could tell them exactly how much they have impacted your life? In this series, Literary Love Letters, we do just that – share open love letters to inspiring authors. Today, The Sea Between Us author Emylia Hall writes to Tim Winton.
I read Breath for the first time when I was high up in the mountains. After a day flying through snow I’d lie in the bath reading, and when the sun rose again I was back out, your words charging my every turn. The way you write about surfing perfectly captures how I feel about snowboarding, and it’s seductive, when someone stirs in you that sort of comprehension. I’m no ‘Pikelet’, but I do remember the times when I’ve sought to push my luck, when that so-particular mix of fear and adrenalin and possibility feels like a rare and beautiful thing.
But enough about snow – no one writes the sea as perfectly, or as poetically, as you, and after reading your memoir, Land’s Edge, I understand why. The ocean is part of who you are. And while your appreciation and respect for the beauty of the natural world shines brightly, I think you believe in the innate beauty of people too. You write so tenderly, even the most imperfect of your characters – the wrongdoers, the morose, the faintly ridiculous – are granted a kind of grace. I reckon that makes you an author to not just admire, but to love.
We met once, you know. You were on a UK book tour and you alighted at Mr B’s Emporium in Bath. It was the first time I’d ventured out in the evening since the birth of my son three months before – I was apprehensive, but I couldn’t miss the chance of seeing you. I was in a daze that night, those first months had been tougher than I’d ever imagined they could be, and I had a novel to start working on again, a deadline looming. But sitting listening to your wise words, I began to feel a lightening, a loosening. We readers swoon over certain authors because they cast a kind of magic – they make us see things differently, lift us out of our everyday worlds. That night you had me spellbound. We spoke a little afterwards. I wanted to tell you that I was a writer too, but something stopped me. Instead you held my son, and signed our books. Later on, in the small hours, when my baby woke crying, again, and yet again, I settled him on my chest without internal protest. For all the sleep deprivation, I felt enlivened. Something was awakened in me too. Sure enough, the next day – bleary eyed, full-hearted – I sat down to write.
With love and gratitude,