Today I have Tabitha Sazuma, author of the very well known and loved Forbidden and new book Hurt, on the blog sharing her top ten influences when it comes to writing. These are fantastic and I can really tell why they would have such an impact on her. For those of you who are not familar with Tabitha please check out my reviews of Forbidden and Hurt, and check out her website.
1. Personal experience:
For example; my lifelong battle with depression, an abusive childhood, leaving school at 14, bringing up my little brother…
I have quite an eclectic taste. Classical, especially Mozart and Rachmaninov. Film soundtracks to write to. But then I also love Queen, Lana Del Rey and Eminem.
3. Books and other authors who write ‘on the edge’.
By this I mean who take risks in their writing, who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, and who naturally have a unique and beautiful voice.
I’m very picky and don’t go to the cinema often but I have been hugely influenced by my two all-time favourite films: Amadeus, which I first saw when I was ten, and The Hours, which I first saw when I was writing my debut novel ‘A Note of Madness’. Other films which have had a profound effect on me are ‘Atonement’, ‘Shine’, ‘Salaam Bombay’, ‘Revolutionary Road’, ‘My Left Foot’ ‘The Basketball Diaries’ and ‘In the Name of the Father’.
5. People I admire: talent, passion, emotional intelligence, and kindness are the four key ingredients.
6. Unusual or beautiful places – especially the sea which features quite heavily in ‘Hurt’.
7. Unusual people or people who have led unusual lives.
I like meeting people who have had to overcome hardships, who have an interesting life story. For example my first boyfriend was an Afghan refugee who had just arrived in the UK after fleeing the Taliban.
8. Documentaries about mental illness and other conditions: for example schizophrenia, or Tourette’s or Autism. I recently watched a fascinating documentary about narcolepsy. It helps me put my own problems into perspective and gives me ideas for new books and unusual characters.
9. Working with children with special needs.
I am a special needs teacher and have taught children with Asperger’s, Down’s, cerebral palsy and many other conditions. I am inspired by their stories, their lives, their bravery, their suffering and their methods of coping in a world where fitting in and ‘looking good’ seem to matter more than anything else, especially for teens.
I know that sounds incredibly big-headed but I may as well be honest. I find myself increasingly bizarre. I’ve always felt different but I’ve always acted different too. I left school when I was 14 and got myself a job working with children with cerebral palsy. I rarely seem to enjoy the things other people enjoy or agree with popular opinion. I lead a very bohemian life. I always seem to feel things ten times more keenly than others. I am very much ruled by my emotions. That gives me a lot to write about but isn’t always easy to live with.