Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Influences

I just did this over at Facebook, and a friend said she'd probably post her own on her blog. Since my blog is for my writing, I thought that was a most excellent idea! The first bit is the instructions, so feel free to do this on your own.

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag at least 15 friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what authors my friends choose. (To do this, copy this intro, go to the Notes tab on your profile page, click 'write a note,' paste the intro into the 'body' and start your list.)

1. Melissa Foster, because she's a writing machine and I admire her immensely. And because she made me see that the kind of stuff I want to write has an audience.

2. S.E. Hinton. The Outsiders (and its related novels) was the first book I read obsessively. I'd always loved visiting the library, but reading that book started my practice of constantly seeking out new reading materials and new authors. I always hope that my work will do the same for others.

3. Jane Austen. Sometimes, I feel like I'm Jane, a woman outside her time. A couple years ago, book club read all her books, which I'd already done, but we read them in the order they were published. When I got to Northanger Abbey, I realized that even Jane's first novel wasn't spectacular. When I read Mansfield Park (my least favorite), I understood that you could love an author and not adore everything they ever wrote. These two facts give me solace on a regular basis now that my work is out there.

4. Stephen King. Not so much for his work in horror - I've read some and for the genre, I like it. But more for his non-horror writing. He has a way of viscerally drawing the reader into a story. And then I read his non-fiction memoir/writing book, On Writing, and his comparision of a writer and an archaeologist resonated with me. I still think about it regularly, especially at the moments when my story takes a turn I hadn't expected. Of course I didn't expect it; I hadn't seen the whole fossil yet.

5. Aldous Huxley. Brave New World has long been one of my absolute favorite books. I don't know quite why; it has stuck with me and I think that says something. The themes in that story seem to trancend a specific time, and that's powerful.

6. Suzanne Collins. Likewise, The Hunger Games trilogy sucked me into its world and made me forget I was reading a YA series. The ideas of hope and love in the story are both blatant and subtle. The other reason I will never forget this author or series is that, when I finished it, I wanted to know what had happened between the end of the story and the epilogue. And since she hadn't written it, I wrote my own version. 280k words later, after weeks of writing daily because I HAD to write, I was a real writer. Not that I need to publish that fanfiction, but it helped me transition to a writer's frame of mind.

7. Marie Hall. Yes, Marie, I said you. Your MOMENT series let me see that I might someday be brave enough to write stories that painful. And then when I realized just how vivid your imagination was outside the Contemporary genre, it gave me courage to believe that trying a sci-fi story might not be beyond me.

8. J.R.R. Tolkien. He helped me see that some people appreciate wordiness (probably my biggest weakness) and that lengthy tomes have their place. He also showed me that creating another world - whether fantastical or grounded in reality - is more than possible if you believe in it.

9. Diana Gabaldon. Her Outlander series showed me that sometimes, stories transcend genre classification, and that doesn't mean they can't be successful.

10. Laurie Breton. Reading her first novel, Coming Home, I fell in love with her writing. For decades, I had an author in my family and I hadn't read her work because I thought it was just Romantic Suspense, which isn't typically my thing. But once I found that I liked her writing style, I saw that I could like a genre if the right person was feeding it to me. And then, of course, she has been my mentor, a guiding hand, a cheerleader (and a disciplinarian), the best critique partner I could ask for and after 40 years of being my aunt, I call her a friend.

11. Tom Robbins. His irreverent, wacky stories skirt the edge of the bizzarre, and yet, I devoured them and laughed the whole way. Fun and funny and imaginative, he showed me there is no real limit to what your brain can conjure if you just let the muse take you wherever she's willing to go.

12. Douglas Adams. Like Tom Robbins, he entertained me with humor and the fantastical. He helped me realize that not all sci-fi has to be serious.

13. Jill Shalvis. Like Mr. Adams, Jill helped me see that romance could also be humorous without sacrificing the sexual tension or the heartfelt emotions.

14. Judy Blume. From the days of caring about our boobs getting bigger in middle school to the very grown up Summer Sisters, she'll forever be my gateway into the kind of novels I now write. Thanks, Judy.

15. L.M. Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables was the first full series I ever read that was truly a serial commodity. Once I'd explored a story in that way, I found I loved it. And now, I write stories that follow groups of interconnected people because I still like to read those types of stories, and I can't imaging writing something you wouldn't want to read. I write for me and I then share it with the rest of the world, just as it should be.

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