This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Gabrielle Kimm has written three historical novels, the third of which, The Girl with the Painted Face, is released on the 21st of November. She tells us why The Far Distant Oxus, written by two schoolgirls in 1937, inspired her to be a writer at a young age.
My love of reading began young. I read everything I could lay my hands on – the classics, contemporary children’s fiction, picture books, comics … you name it! If it was words on a page, I wanted it, from Treasure Island and Little Women, to Tintin and Asterix the Gaul. I was little and skinny and wore glasses, and must have been an almost comically studious child.
I had often vaguely thought I might like to write a book of my own, though I suppose I hadn’t ever really tried that hard. And then, when I was twelve, my mother bought me a copy of a book she had loved as a child. It was called The Far Distant Oxus and it was written in 1937 by two schoolgirls, Katharine Hull and Pamela Whitlock, who were fourteen and fifteen respectively when they wrote their novel together. It’s a charming and engaging story about children on holiday in Exmoor with ponies and rafts and picnics and exciting adventures, all structured around an old Persian poem, quotes from which head each chapter.I remember my mother telling me the two girls’ ages, and the pulse-quickening feeling I had, that if they could do it, so could I! I was only twelve – I had two years to achieve it! I still have about ten pages of the attempts I then made to emulate their achievement.
In the end, I didn’t complete my first novel until some thirty years later (!), but there’s no doubt in my mind that reading this book was definitely the catalyst which kickstarted my ambition. Do you know – I’ve always been enormously grateful to those two girls.