Thursday, February 9, 2012

Literary Influences

We all have authors we love to read, and as writers, we all have those whose styles we like to emulate.  This is my list:

When I was a graduating from high school, I picked up the newly released Heir to the Empire and fell in love with it.  Yes, I'd read a decent amount as a teenager, but I didn't have any particular author I followed.  Zahn changed that.  The topic, Star Wars, was something I already loved, and Tim Zahn brought the world to life in breathtaking ways.  The main bad guy, Grand Admiral Thrawn, was a villain you almost wanted to root for(in later life, as a Soldier, he'd have been someone I'd have loved to have served under), and the action flowed as easily as oil from the Exxon Valdez.  I sat in my bed at night and read until two in the morning, unable to put the books away.  To this day, he's still the only writer that can do Star Wars worth a damn.

Alan Dean Foster is another I picked up shortly after high school.  I read his Trilogy of the Damned and waited anxiously for each new installment.  The books never made the best seller list, but they were a fun jaunt through the Sci-Fi genre, and they read easily.  Quozl, another I picked up from him in college, had the same fun feel and flowed from plot point to plot point, making it easy to follow when you weren't looking for War & Peace.

I think JK Rowling is an inspiration to almost every writer out there.  A single mom who wrote in a coffee shop, her books were turned down by a dozen publishers before catching on with a small publishing house in England.  Of course, Scholastic books bought it later, and we all got to enjoy the adventures of Harry Potter.  To be fair, I made fun of people who read it before I picked up a single book, but on a dare from a buddy, I read #3 and soon couldn't put them down.  In fact, I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in one day, then duplicated the feat with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It's easy to get lost in the magical world, and her style lets you set yourself free.  I don't know anyone who has read one of her books that hasn't been enthusiastic about them.

Finally, Stephen King has recently been an influence on my writing.  King is hit or miss for me - either right on target, or wildly off the mark.  While I enjoyed the short story 1408, I couldn't get into Salem's LotIt chilled me to the bone, but the meandering descriptions in The Dark Tower series left me bored.  However, it was one of his earliest novels, The Shining, that hooked me.  I was looking for how to build suspense in my novel Salvation Day, so I decided to read what I'd heard was the preeminent book that demonstrated that.  Boy, they weren't kidding.  You read along, just following the story, and all of the sudden you're in the middle of the terror, and you have no idea how you got there.  A masterful build up, and I've gone back many times to get the style down.  King's latest, 11/22/63, is another awesome novel that takes our world and stands it on its head.

Who are your literary influences?

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