Guest Blog: Jennifer B. Duffey

Q:  Who is your greatest literary influence?

A: I was first introduced to my greatest literary influence in the mid 1990s while my family and I were stationed in Hanau Germany with the U.S. Army. My husband and I were going on a road trip for a few days. I was hoping to pass the five hours we would be traveling south to Chiemsee.

After reading the first two pages of, I was hooked! Maeve Binchy managed to transport me from the foreign country where I was living to another country I’d never visited all while I was missing the home I hadn’t seen in several years.

In her book I found kindred spirits. Suddenly, I was in Ireland immersed in a world of characters that pulled me into their lives completely. I could see the struggles of a marriage falling apart one broken promise at a time. I listened as they navigated the challenges of a devotedly religious society when the outside world and church ideals collided. It’s amazing how similar the Catholic and Baptist churches are to one another.

Binchy’s greatest strength is her character development. She deftly brings the subtle nuisances of each person to the page. As a reader, you can see them. Hear them. Feel their pain. Celebrate their joy. It is perhaps this trait that I admire most. And it is this quality that I someday hope to emulate.

Since that first meeting all those years ago, I’ve perused her library on numerous occasions. Each time, I learn something new about the craft of knitting words together on paper.  Those lessons have served me well over the years.

Maeve died in the summer of 2012. Her passing left a huge void in my heart and in my reading list. Never again will I be able to pick up a new work of hers and experience the joy of discovering a world she created.  But perhaps one day, if I’m very fortunate and continue to hone my craft, my writing will reflect her influence and that will be a marvelous day indeed.

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