As a writer, there are several female authors who are super-fabulous in my book (so to speak).
Barbara Kingsolver is... awesome. Awe-inspiring. Her storytelling is top-notch, and her coolness factor gets a boost because she's a biologist as well as an author. So aside from being insanely well-written, her books teach me things I never would have learned in school. Prodigal Summer is a great example - her detailed descriptions of insects and plantlife are fascinating, and I credit this book with being the impetus behind my taking up gardening this spring. I also now know (from her descriptions) that honeysuckle is both a weed and one of the most lovely scents known to man. See? Education. She also provides a breath-of-fresh-air outlook on wild coyotes and why natural predators should not be killed en masse by humans. Despite PS's lusciousness, my favorite of hers is still The Poisonwood Bible. Truly epic. Four sisters are carted off to the Congo when their bible-toting, southern Baptist, hellfire and brimstone preaching Daddy agrees to head up a Christian mission in the jungle. Bring faith, "the way, the truth, and the light" (if you will) to the heathen of Africa. Their story is told from the point of view of all four sisters as well as their mother, over the course of three generations. Intense. Life-changing. Seriously.
Sena Jeter Naslund wrote another of my all-time favorite contemporary novels, Ahab's Wife. I read this in high school and can scarcely remember anything about it except that it's from the point of view of Captain Ahab's wife. Yes, the same Captain from Moby Dick, who hobbled around the decks of the Pequod and hoped to capture the ever-ellusive white whale. While I cannot remember much about the plot, I definitely remember it being so good and so well-written that I didn't want the book to end. I felt warm and cozy every time I picked the book up. I tend to think that the subject material wasn't the reason, since I vaguely remember a scene featuring cannibalism. At least I know now from writing this that 1) I need to read this book again, clearly, since I cannot remember a single important plot detail, and 2) I've been including this book in my list of favorites based on my memory of how reading it made me feel. I can say that in reading Four Spirits, I know that this has not been in vain. FS is phenomenal as well. Note to self, add all Naslund's works to my Amazon Wish List. Christmas is a' comin' folks!