Monday, September 16, 2013

Authors Who Influenced Me

I was a little frustrated with the author profile program on Goodreads as I went about adjusting the names of authors who influenced me. I'd originally sketched in a few names as I was in a hurry to set up the page and figured I'd go back later and fill in more. Well, when I went to do a comprehensive list, I found out there was a pretty skimpy limit on how many you could include. So, here I am with a blog where I can talk about the writers I love and why.

The first I couldn't include was John Steinbeck. Ouch! When I read East of Eden in eighth grade I was floored. The descriptive power. The clean plot. He was elegant in a tough way. And it was all so California, specifically Northern California, where I grew up. I was enthralled.

Next was Mary Shelly. My God. How could I leave Mary Shelly out of my list. She created the first real scary monster story of my youth. It was so descriptive in its horror, in a way that no other older horror stories had ever been. I was enraptured. I think it planted the seeds for my love of horror fiction.

Edger Allen Poe came later in the stream of things but he was just as big an influence. Ye gods, he was wickedly horrific. I ate up every sentence. I think I learned the idea of suspense from him, waiting until the appropriate time to reveal the worst thing you could possibly imagine. And of course making sure that the pay off was worth the wait.

More recently Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher created the Kindle (Fire-Us series). I recommend them to anyone that's looking for an example of realistic post apocalyptic YA reading. The characters are so tangible and broken by events preceding the book that you can easily imagine the world they're living in. Strangely the books got only middling reviews but I'd rate them much much higher.

Jumping back to my youth again, Robin McKinley was a piecemeal influence. I didn't like all of her books but at least two of them were like cherished friends of mine. I read them over and over. One in paperback form finally disintegrated last year. Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast was so clever that it never failed to surprise me every time I read it. The heroine was rewritten to be smart and take-charge rather than a lovely sad-sap. Then there was The Blue Sword written about a fictional desert country conquered by a "British-like" country. One of the "British" girls strikes the natives as part of a prophecy and they kidnap her, taking her far into the mountains, where her countrymen cannot find her. Whether she shows herself to be the prophesied one or not you'd have to read to find out but it's high adventure in the flavor of Prince of Persia.

So those are all the authors I couldn't list. I could say lots about the ones I COULD list but that would be a much longer post. Perhaps another day.

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