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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Author Insight: Hooked on Books

Is there one book that has had an impact
on not only your writing, but on you personally?
What do you love about that book?

"It's impossible to pick a single book that impacted my writing the most, because I think all the books you love become part of who you are as a writer--but certainly classic fantasy (Diana Wynne Jones, C.S. Lewis), science fiction (Ray Bradbury) and Southern/Southern Gothic lit (Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connnor/Anne Rice) have influenced me the most. The book that impacted me the most personally was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. The voice and the characters spoke to me, and I related to the idea that people are not always what they appear to be--that often people who appear to be the toughest are the ones who have been the most wounded by life." - Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"Oh, hard question. It's a tie between The Graveyard Book, and Shel Silverstein. Silverstein shaped me as a writer, because my parents read him to me all growing up. His rhythm and rhyme scheme has worked its way into my bones. But Gaiman's Graveyard Book...Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, and he's also the first author I was ever compared to, and I just loved that book so much. It had a wonderful apparent simplicity, the same as William Blake, that disguises something much richer, and that's something I aspire to in my writing." - Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch.

"I’m not sure it’s one book, but rather one writer. Around age 12, I started my all-things-Stephen King obsession...er…phase. Don’t we all go through this phase??? His books really hooked me on reading, and steered me toward horror/thriller/supernatural (anything creepy!)." - Kimberly Derting, author of The Body Finder. 

"I read Little Women and Little Men about fifty times each when I was a kid and they made me want to be a writer like Louisa May Alcott. I knew she based the character of Jo on herself and Jo wanted to be a writer...so I understood that it was a dream that was possible to attain." - Rhonda Hayter, author of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams.


"I love Laura in The Little House in the Big Woods for her bravery and her feistiness." - Swati Avashti, author of Split.

"Maybe not a book, but I can offer you a TV show. When I was 15, I fell in love with Monty Python's Flying Circus. I know it probably sounds stupid now, because teenagers are always discovering things like that that other people feel are old hat, but I was OBSESSED. I was desperate for some kind of life plan that would lead me to writing, but that would sound like a real plan, one that involved college and jobs and stuff. And these people were hilarious and had gone to good colleges and were obviously successful doing something I would love to do, so I watched the show and learned everything I could about it. I memorized the Python's names, where they went to college and what they majored in, and I even knew some of their birthdays. I watched or read as much as I could get my hands on of everything else they'd ever done outside of Monty Python. (I loved Ripping Yarns--my fave episode is still The Testing of Eric Olthwaite. "That's the blackest black pudding I've ever seen! Even the white bits are black.") I was looking for answers about what to do with my life, because even though I was only 15, the future and making decisions about things felt too close, and everyone was telling me writing was just a hobby. So I stalked, I obsessed, and I decided I wanted to write sketch comedy for television (my friends politely told me I didn't have what it takes and, sadly, I believed them -__-). Well, obviously that never happened, but my Monty Python obsession was the last obsession to completely and utterly consume me that wasn't one of my own projects. After that, I got super obsessed with my books, falling in love with them and writing like mad (and, not surprisingly, writing comedy). I saw what I could do, and it was then that I decided it was what I had to do, one way or another, no matter what anybody said." - Chelsea Campbell, author of The Rise of Renegade X.

"There have been several books that literally turned a corner in my life and made me change the way I think about writing, or living, or both. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende made me want to write novels. The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka made me want to write for children. Speak made me want to write for teens. Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott gives voice to the strange, intangible combination of forces that make up the writer’s psyche – the roadblocks, the joys, the terrors – and even ways to circumvent the shadowy side: the critic, with destruction in its wake. Even more, I realized I was not alone." - Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me A Secret.
"The first series Mercedes Lackey wrote--Arrows of the Queen, etc. had great characters, a great and imaginative setting and all sorts of relationships I (having grown up a bit sheltered) hadn't seen in print before." - Shannon Delany, author of 13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale.

"That’s a really tough question. Honestly, it was Stephenie Meyer’s books that made me want to write something for my daughter, but my style is nothing like hers. Choosing one book is impossible. Among the many books that have influenced me as a writer, Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series is on top because those themes are fearless. (And she MADE MY LIFE by recommending Personal Demons on her blog!)" - Lisa Desrochers, author of Personal Demons.

"Oh, man. There are thousands of books that have had the effect you describe! I know this is going to sound like a cop-out answer, but I think every book I’ve ever read—with the exception of, like, major beach reads—has affected me both personally and in my writing. That said, I think One Hundred Years of Solitude was an enormously influential book for me. I think Gabriel Garcia Marquez has the power to restore beauty—not just to the world of his imagining—but to the real world, the world we live in. I’m not sure how he does this, except that his books are such a wonderful and brilliant admixture of the utterly improbable and the absolutely true, and it shifts your perspective." - Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall.

"There are so many books throughout my life that have had a huge impact. But lately The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron was one of those life-altering books, because it speaks to the heart of where the love of books can lead you and why books are more than just words on a page. I love how bold and magical The Shadow of the Wind is. Zafron really took lots of risks with it, I think, and I’m glad to see they’re paying off!" - Tiffany Trent, author of the Hallowmere series.

"I do have a special connection with the Harry Potter books. If I'm doing things around the house I'll play the audio and feel comforted by it. It's very easy to get lost in that world, to the point that I want to hear what's going to happen next (as if I don't know!) instead of getting on with my own writing." - Alexandra Diaz, author of Of All the Stupid Things.

"SO many! But I'll pick Marjorie Morningstar. I love the main character's realization, close to the end of the book, about her relationship with the man she's loved for most of the book." - Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood.

"Bird by Bird or anything else by Anne Lamott. She’s had a wild life and is so down to earth and honest about writing, motherhood, and faith. I love that." - Amy Brecount White, author of Forget-Her-Nots.

"There are so many books that could fit into this category! If I have to pick one right now, I'd say Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. It really stretched me as a person and as a writer. It made me think differently about my goals and passions and fears. Also, each sentence in that book is a work of art I could stare at for hours." - Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith.

"When I was 15, I read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and it pretty much changed the way I thought about writing. Before that, I'd never really considered character development or relevant details, and THoMS is told entirely in vignettes, which means revealing a whole world in a very short space. On a personal level, the book is pretty much responsible for me keeping a very detailed journal all through high school. It made me realize that a piece of writing can be *about* a person or an idea, as long as you have a focus and know what you want to say." - Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement.

Come back Thursday to find out what books the rest of our authors love and why they love them!


  1. Love love love this post, I loved hearing who inspired the authors to write and then to see what kind of impact they've had on them individually, it's exciting!

  2. What a great post! I love the variety of answers and sources of inspiration. I guess that's why we end up with such a vast melting pot of great fiction. :)

  3. This is an awesome post! I also love a lot of these books and I always like to hear which books inspire authors and what their favorites are!