How 4 Women Writers Found Fame in Fiction
Get inspired to keep calm and write on with success stories from bestselling female authors.
Truly successful people know there’s no shortcut on the path to “making it.” And if you’re a writer, your road looks even windier than most.
But whether you’re juggling multiple freelance copy gigs – or trying to fit in marathon writing sessions on the weekends – it’s always inspiring to read about how other authors found their way to the bestseller list.
Check out four such stories below.
Patricia Wentworth (1878-1961)
Patricia Wentworth helped challenge society’s perception of the “stay-at-home woman” with her 32-book series called Miss Silver Mysteries, which she wrote until the year she died.
The heroine, Miss Silver, was an unassuming detective, portrayed as such because of her age and gender. However, despite these “shortcomings,” she proved time and again she could find clues that even the most astute police officers overlooked.
Not only did Wentworth upend stereotypes of women with characters like Miss Silver, but her popularity in crime fiction also helped advance other women writers during the early 20th century.
Dorothy Uhnak (1930-2006)
Dorothy Uhnak used her 14 years as a policewoman with the New York City Transit Authority — 12 of which she spent as a detective — as inspiration for her gritty crime novels.
Her heroic efforts garnered her fame after she made headlines for taking down a mugger who held her at gunpoint. When she retired in 1967, she said that leaving the force was due to sexual discrimination.
Uhnak continued to look at life through the eyes of a police officer and translated her experiences into a number of successful novels, including Law and Order, The Bait, and her memoir about her time as a law enforcer, Policewoman.
Susan Isaccs (b. 1943)
Despite holding an senior position as an editor for Seventeen magazine, Susan Isaacs didn’t feel fulfilled in her job. So she started freelancing as a political speechwriter, a gig typically held by men at the time.
The new job taught her one of the fundamentals of writing fiction: drawing out the characters. So Isaacs slowed down her speech-writing career to put more time into fiction, which led to her first novel, the bestseller Compromising Positions.
Even now, Isaacs still finds herself writing about politics, but in a much more mysterious fashion.
Hear Isaacs talk more about her career path in this video.
Ruth Rendell (b. 1930)
The British author had a short-lived journalism career that cemented her destiny to become a fiction writer.
She began working as a feature writer for the Chigwell Times in the UK when she was 18, although she admitted to having a compulsion for telling stories. Her journalism career was cut short after she skipped an event and wrote the story anyway about a local tennis club’s annual dinner. The only problem: She failed to mention the on-stage death of a speaker mid-speech.