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Thursday, May 13, 2010

More 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?

"Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way freed my creativity and helped me believe in my potential." - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

"I remember my first ever literary crush: Morgan Leah from The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks. It showed me it was possible to actually love a fictional character to the point of desperately wishing he was real. It made me want to write characters like that; so vivid and alive and unforgettable, you almost forget that they aren’t flesh and blood." - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

"I would have to say Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. It's a beautiful verse novel about a girl with cerebral palsy, and it's one of the few books I actually reread, because there is so much to learn within those pages about how to do verse well. And I often think about Josie and how she sees the world when I'm writing. It's just an amazing little book." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"Town by James Roy - a series of interconnected short stories about teenagers in a nameless town. I read it when I was fourteen, I think, and it really got me thinking about perspective (all the books I've written since have had multiple narrators)." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"I can't pick one book, because so many books made me who I am as a person, and as a writer. When I started writing Shadowed Summer, I wanted to write a book that made me feel like Annette Curtis Klause's The Silver Kiss had made me feel when I was a teenager. One of the sparks for writing my first novel was Stephen King's On Writing. I love words; I love books. I swoon in libraries and lose all control in bookstores. All books make me go a little bit mad. They've all had an impact." - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

"Drinking the Rain by Alix Kates Shulman. It’s about a woman who goes to live alone on a beach for a while, and she ends up harvesting wild foods and paying close attention to the environment around her. It’s fascinating, and really made me think about my own food sources and the pace of my life, where I choose to spend my time. I don’t think this book necessarily influenced my writing, but definitely my life." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

"Tough question. Yes. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. At the time I read it, I hadn't begun writing novels, so I didn't understand what she was doing with the omniscient voice. But I loved it. Now that I can see the technique, I'm even more in awe, and it shadows my writing. I hope." - Janet Fox, author of Faithful.

"One?! Gah! How about two; Fingersmith by Sarah Waters for incredible Gothic atmosphere and a twist you do NOT see coming and White Oleander by Janet Fitch for showing me the power of words in putting a name to the common threads of humanity." - Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of Sisters.

"Beauty by Robin McKinley. I love the voice, and I love that it's such a simple story told so well. When I was little, I wanted to be Beauty, for her practical nature, her courage, and her patience. Now I want to be able to capture that rhythm of language. All her books elicit this desire." - Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.

"Donna Tartt’s The Secret History initially wooed me with its characters, language and story and continues to impress me with its haunting rhythms and the scope of its endeavor. It’s about a California misfit who ends up at a small New England college where he’s party to murdering one of his friends. It weaves in all sorts of classical references and contains a staggering number of characters, but Tartt creates a box large enough to hold them all. Although I’m no longer as enamored of the characters as I once was, I still aspire to seem that effortlessly literary in my prose." - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.

"I taught To Kill a Mockingbird for eight years when I was a high school English teacher. Each time I read it, I love it more than the last. I think I learned a lot about structure from deconstructing that novel so often. Personally, I fell in love with Atticus Finch, and am honored to report that my husband is as wonderful a man as the fictional character in that book." - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.

"For me, this book is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I read it my senior year of high school, and I’ve held it pretty close to my heart every day since. In addition to being an incredibly powerful story (collection of stories?), it’s the first book I came away from understanding how mesmerizing and powerful the written word can be, and how much of a craft writing actually is." - Alexandra Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.

"There are A LOT of books that fall into this category, but two pop to mind: Spider Robinson's Time Travelers Strictly Cash and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. I have re-read both of these books countless times: the world-building, characters, humor, visuals, empathy, plot twists and wordsmithing are astonishing, but what really gets me is how "human" they are. These authors both manage to touch something integral about what it means to be a person living with other people in the world (and, conversely, what it means not to and not). That's something I really love in all my favorites from Duncan to Gibson and Stephenson to Niffenneggar; the "What Makes Us People" stuff." - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I was captivated by Francie and her strength. She had such an ache to learn she lied about her address so she could attend a better school. And she was so sensitive and worried about her parents and her brother and sister. What an amazing character in one of the best books of all times." - Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart.

"Many, many books have impacted me enormously, especially books that I have read all through my childhood by J.K Rowling, Brian Jacques, T.A. Barron, Harper Lee, but most recently, the book that has impacted me the most is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Both the writing and the story are beautiful, captivating, and raw. Collin’s writing is an amazing combination of intensity and simplicity. She never over-describes or over-explains, yet the reader is experiencing every sight, smell, and sound. In addition, the story is incredibly thought-provoking and highlights flaws that exist in our own society, such as our preoccupation with violence." - Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"I've spoken in a few places around the blogosphere about the importance of Ballet Shoes (and the rest of the Shoes series) by Noel Streatfeild, which sparked my love of Shakespeare and further sucked me into the theater world." - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theatre Illuminata series.

"Growing up I was always reading (mostly Stephen King), but when I got to college I really got into Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye is still one my favorite books and it truly moved me. After that I began taking a lot of different classes in college and became more serious about finding great literature to read. If you haven't read it, the book is absolutely heartbreaking, but Morrison's writing is unbelievably beautiful." - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

What was the most challenging part of each author's road to publication?
Come back Tuesday to find out!

1 comment:

  1. I love all these author insights! There's Julie - I read The Iron King and loved it. Hey, look it's Steph too.