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Thursday, September 23, 2010

More Author Insight: Books They Love

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

"When I was very young my grandma used to read me stories. My favorite was Winnie the Pooh…the one where he eats all the honey and gets stuck in Rabbit’s hole. Well, my grandma stopped reading one day and I just kept going where she’d left off. I was about four. I’d memorized the whole book. I remember realizing people wrote those books and wanting to be one of those people." - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean has had the biggest impact on my writing and on me personally because that book contains so many universal truths about people, relationships, our failings, and our successes." - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"Wake by Lisa McMann.  I was toward the end of The Mark’s revisions - my editor had asked me to speed pacing and trim the fat and I thought I was doing what she wanted.  Then I read Wake.  Lisa McMann’s prose is so tight and the storytelling so focused…I loved the book and, more than that, I finally got it that if a word or passage or dialogue can be cut with no measurable impact on the story, it should be." - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.

"Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. It's funny and it will hurt your brain every single time you read it. The mark of great book is that you see different things each time you read it. Not because the book is different of course, but because you are." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

"I am a Jane Austen junkie. Pride and Prejudice is my muse and textbook. It is the book that made a reader and writer out of me. I love Austen’s wit; I love the romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy; and I love the timelessness of the story." - Wendy Delsol, author of Stork. 

"I would say it's Alice Hoffman's Turtle Moon. There is something so incredibly lyrical about her work. She creates these worlds that exist somewhere between our own and a magical realm. Her prose takes my breath away. Turtle Moon is adult fiction but there is a relationship between a teen girl and an Angel that I could read again and again. She's awesomesauce." - Rebecca Maizel, author of Infinite Days.

"When I was twelve, my favorite book was The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I read it until my copy fell apart and looked everywhere for related material which I devoured. Most of all, I think it was the character of the Phantom who spoke to me. He has stuck with me ever since as the quintessential anti-hero. While writing Nevermore, I discovered that that Leroux was greatly influenced by Poe and that was one reason why, during the masquerade scene in The Phantom of the Opera, the Phantom appears as Red Death.  (Consequently, in Nevermore, I included a small yet noticeable salute to Mr. Leroux!)" - Kelly Creagh, author of Nevermore.

 "This is super cliche, but it would be Harry Potter.  I hated, hated, hated reading until those books came along, and then I went from making straight Fs in reading to being in an advanced reading class in the next year.  Suddenly, reading was my world. I wanted to be like JK Rowling. Maybe not write her genre, but write things as entertaining and intense!  I don't know if I'd be here without Harry, Ron, and Hermione." - Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF.

"There’s no one particular book of significance, but I can say that my love of mystery and intrigue was fostered by the writing of such authors as Mary Stewart, Shirley Jackson, and Mary Roberts Rinehart.  They taught me to love gothic stories set in strange, dark surroundings with romantic love interests who seem to be up to no good and narrators who might not be telling the truth." - Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead.

"When I was in high school, my grandmother gave me a copy of Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety. I read it, and I felt completely hollowed out and filled at the same time. I love the way he writes real characters in beautiful and disturbing ways. I love the way his writing evokes such a sense of place. I remember putting that book down and thinking, I will read this again, over and over, until I die because there will always be something new there for me." - Ally Condie, author of Matched.

"I learned to read when I was four, but I didn’t enjoy it. Not until age seven, when my older friend Francie handed me E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan. I sympathized with Louis, the swan who learned to write and play trumpet because he had a “speech impediment” and couldn’t make normal swan sounds. Suddenly books weren’t something parents and teachers forced on me but precious objects they couldn’t pry from my hands." - Phoebe Kitanidis, author of Whisper.

"For this particular project, probably The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch. He's a funeral director and published poet, and his descriptions of life, death, and life after death are amazingly, simply profound. I come to a new understanding of the importance and beauty of our dying (and our carrying on) every time I read that book. And that's the space from which I like to approach my zombies - as people/bodies with beautiful, engaging, hilarious, and tragic stories to tell." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed.

"Southern literature has had a profound impact on my writing, because it is so closely tied to my family's roots.  I grew up with the voices of three generations of Southern women in my house -- their stories, their charm, and most of all, their history.  There were two writers who captured those voices for me, Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird) & Flannery O'Connor's short stories. Both women write about the darker side of the South, and human nature. Harper Lee, with unforgettable characters and voice and Flanney O' Connor, with sharp wit and contradictions.  Their stories stuck with me long after I read them, and 'A Good Man Is Hard To Find' is still the most perfectly imperfect short story I've ever read.  Because of their work, it's hard for me to write anything without an unexpected twist, a clear sense of consequence, and some very messy truths." - Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"There are many books that have both affected my writing and me personally. The latest one is probably The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Not only is the writing simply gorgeous (and inspiring), but the self-discovery aspect of the story was personally impacting. I’m always discovering new things about myself, and especially in the face of hard situations." - Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith.

"You could say that every book I read affects me, but a couple that stand out for personal impacts: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver nudged me to finally join a CSA as I'd wanted for years; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott helps me approach writing and publishing with a little more mellowness and sanity." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

Come back Tuesday to find out how our authors know when a scene needs rewriting!
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  1. I agree with Jen Nadol, the stripped back, stark style of the Wake Trilogy suits it perfectly.

  2. Wonderful post! I love it. Most recently was Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. When I finished the first book (and every one since) I had such a longing...I really wanted to write like that, to make others feel the way i was feeling in that moment. :-)

  3. I love this post! And I especially like Leah Clifford's answer about Winnie the Pooh :)