Monday, April 11, 2011

I Is For Influential Authors

If you're anything like me, you can find inspiration anywhere: random people you see on the street, television, movies, music-- my synopsis of Effigy took eight months to write. I had ten different drafts, ten different openings, ten different approaches and none of them were right. It was pretty frustrating. Then, one evening, I happened to be watching So You Think You Can Dance and Mia Michaels choreographed a number to a Gavin DeGraw song that contained a line that put a spark in me that ended with a four and a half paged synopsis. So, thanks Mia Michaels for choreographing that dance to that song that night. You ended a very long frustrating time for me and everyone who had to listen to me bitch about my inability to figure out the pain in the ass that was my synopsis.

But once again I digress because today, while I am talking about inspiration, I'm focusing more on the authors and writers who have been my inspiration, the people who have made me say, "I want to write like that!"

Hmmm...I smell a list coming on. Here are my top ten (in chronological order):

1. The Secret of the Unicorn Queen crowd- This was a series of six MG books that my mother came across for me back in middle school. It was about a girl who fell through a portal into a parallel universe and took up with a group of unicorn riding rebels until she could find her way home. They were written by different authors but I had to put these books/authors on my list because these are the books that inspired me to write my own fantasy series. Talk about influential. They are: Josepha Sherman, Gwen Hansen, Suzanne Weyn and Dory Perlman.

2. Ellen Emerson White- Well, if you know me at all, then you know she has to be on this list. I came across her novel, The President's Daughter, in the school library in the seventh grade one day when I was tired of being harassed about my Sweet Valley High obsession. I haven't looked back since. I wanted to be her main character, Meg Powers, when I grew up. I still kind of do.

3. Cynthia Voigt- An amazing writer for young adults. I was/am particularly enthralled with her novels that revolve around the Tillerman family as well as those in the Kingdom series. I love the way she writes her main characters. Dicey Tillerman kicks ass. Talk about a strong female character. Go out and read Homecoming right now.

4. William Faulkner- I read a lot of his books in my later high school career. The one that inspired me the most was As I Lay Dying which helped me to start my novel (in progress) How Many Angels.

5. Robert B. Parker- Of course Robert B. Parker had to make this list. I'd like to thank Ellen Emerson White for having her character, Meg Powers, read Spenser novels. I've always loved Parker's sense of humor. Conversations between Spenser and Hawk are really the best.

6. Laurie Halse Anderson- I first read her novel, Speak when my sister, B, recommended it. It's now one of my all time favorite books. This woman is an amazing writer and if you read nothing else in your lifetime, read Speak. Then read Twisted and Wintergirls. If you let yourself get turned off by the fact that these are YA novels, you are cheating yourself.

7. Joss Whedon- C'mon. My religion on Facebook is listed as "W.W.J.W.D.?" How could I not put him on this list?

8. Philippa Gregory- A historical fiction writers, she's created so many novels that I have found to be just so affecting. The way she writes historical fiction is the way I want my fantasy novels to read. Realism and gravitas. That's what I want.

9. George R.R. Martin- His series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is a must for any fantasy writer. Talk about realism and gravitas. I could only dream of writing a fantasy series like this. I love fantasy that makes me forget I'm reading fantasy.

10. Stephen Lawhead- I mentioned him the other day when I wrote my "H" entry. I really love the way he writes. I'd like to be able to do what he does with voice and imagery.

So that's ten, huh? Already? All right then. This is what we're going to have to do...

Okay, I lied. I'm going to include just two more because I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't mention...

11. Suzanne Collins- I picked up The Hunger Games because I'd been reading so much about it on other blogs and Facebook and whatever. So glad I did because it's really the most amazing story. I read it in one sitting because there was no good place to stop reading... and isn't that the mark of a great writer?

12. J.K. Rowling- I don't even have words. You know why she's here.

Now it's your turn: who are the writers whose work you've wanted to claim as your own? Or, what inspires you?


  1. Definitely agree with Joss Whedon, J.K. Rowling and my newly discovered love for all things Hunger Games. I'd also like to add John Green to the list - he's so amazing.

    Also, I watched United States of Leland when I was home sick one day in high school and it inspired me to write a screen play for my film class that year.

    Other than that I'm usually inspired by my overactive imagination.

  2. Ooooh, good choices!!
    I love Susan ELIZABEH Phillips, Lani Diane Rich, Mary Higgins Clark, and Michael Connelly.

  3. LOVE half your list, and you've just added some new books for my TBR pile. I loved Speak, I have yet to read her others, but they're high on my list!

  4. I HATE lists like these! I now have a whole slew of books I need to get into my TBR pile. Curse you, M!

    I'm watching Firefly for the first time right now. Don't you envy me? The new discovery and exposure to all that awesomeness? The man is good!

    I think I'd have Madeleine L'Engle on the early part of my chronological list of influential authors.


  5. @ Ava- I'm so very excited that you're watching Firefly!! And yeah, I am at the same time jealous...

  6. Preston & Child and Timothy Zahn. Those guys can write. And let's hear it for another Firefly fan!

  7. Nice list. I'd probably say Douglas Adams is at the top of my list.

  8. Oddly enough...currently reading Homecoming. Someday my copy will fall apart, and then what? Oh yeah, can I borrow your Homecoming movie? I can't find it online anywhere.

  9. George R R Martin is awesome!

  10. It's so amazing to find inspiration in places you least expect!
    As for your list...I now have a number of additional books/authors to add to my must-read list. I am extremely inspired by Gretel Erlich's writing. She is so poetic and so profound. Reading her words makes me want to write and write better.

  11. JK Rowling YES!! Knew she had to be on that list somewhere!