GUEST ARTICLE: Influential Authors
To kick off our week of Armchair BEA, we begin with a little piece from Suzy Turner of Fiction Dreams on influential authors. Please give her a warm welcome, then let us know which authors have influenced you.
The Authors Who Have Influenced Me
When I first started reading seriously, I was probably about 10 or 11 years old. I devoured pretty much any book that you put in front of me. Whether it was a kids' book, a horror, chick lit, murder mystery, I loved it. I loved the simple act of reading and the fact that it could be done anywhere. I'd recently moved countries – from England to Portugal where we had a swimming pool. So during the summer months, there was nothing I liked better than to laze on a lilo with a book in my hands. If there were too many people around the pool and too much noise, I'd head on up to the roof terrace where I would wile away the hours hidden within other worlds. As I slowly went through my early teens, I went through phases of reading different genres – from Mills & Boone to Jilly Cooper and from horror to children's books and back.
Jilly Cooper though, became a staple in my young life. I think I started reading her novels when I first entered my teens and I must say I was terribly influenced by her because I learned a lot about love and sex from the hilarious stories she produced. Imogen, Harriet, Emily, Octavia, Bella and Prudence were some of her early works that I read over and over. It's funny to look back at them now, because they were written in the 70s when I was just a baby. And the covers? Well, they're so cheesy! But I bet the stories have lasted through the ages. I really must get copies so I can re-read and see what all the fuss was about!
Then of course, many books that I read were ones that I had no choice in the matter: books that were to be studied for school and later, college. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, Waiting for Godot, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Antony & Cleopatra, A Bend in the River, Death of a Salesman, Cold Comfort Farm, A Handmaid's Tale and so on.
Out of all the books I had to read in school, there was only one that had a profound effect on me and that was Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. Perhaps because it was most unlike anything I'd ever read. It wasn't one of the traditional classics – this was a futuristic dystopian tale, much of it about sex. But I could never forget it and I have always said that this book influenced me in some way. Perhaps it subconsciously drove me to become an author in the first place? Maybe.
I should add JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer to this list of authors who really have influenced me though. Being introduced to their urban fantasy tales led me to imagine my own crazy worlds and made me believe that I can write too. Made me believe in myself and that is all I can possibly ask for.
What authors have influenced you? And why? I asked some of the Armchair BEA bloggers this very question. Here is what they said...
Stephen King opened my eyes to more adult literature and a whole new world. His honest views of the world and his ability to capture characters better than anyone I had ever read before inspired me to search for more and varied writing than I had previously ever read.
Lisa See and Khaled Hosseini opened my eyes to worlds far beyond my own. They both inspired me to read more globally.
Gregory Maguire helped me to step into other's shoes, and remind me that everyone has their own story.
Tif of Tif Talks Books
Twitter handle: @tiftalksbooks
Veronica Roth really influenced the way I write. Her style is so straightforward and clean. She also writes excellent articles about writing that have helped me, like her piece on writing character deaths. She's a major inspiration for me.
Sophia C of LovingLit.com
Twitter handle: @sophiareads
The authors that have influenced me are Agatha Christie and C.S. Lewis - for different reasons. As a just a reader and being a horrible writer, they influence me in life events versus writing styles and cadence.
When I was in Middle School my mom FINALLY got the point that I was a reader and she should let me be when I was reading or left the family for alone time with a book and Agatha Christie bridged the gap between my mother and I at that point in my life. My mom was also a casual reader so she bought me two A.C. books - The Body in the Library (Miss Marple mystery) and I believe the second was Curtain (Hercule Poirot mystery). She explained that she really liked this author and the books were fun and kept her on her toes. That summer and on I have continued to read Agatha Christie books, and they always make me think of my mom.
As for C.S. Lewis, I know most find him influential for the Christian overtones in his work but The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has always been one of my favorite fantasy books for the magic. Even before I wanted a letter to appear from Hogwarts, I wanted to step into another world through something so ordinary. Fantasy is probably my favorite genre at this point and it all started with the magic of the Chronicles of Narnia (read out of order because The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe was the first I heard of).
Stephanie Turner of Cover2CoverBlog
Twitter handle: @gorelenore
For authors that influenced me I decided to go retro (in other words, way back to when I first started working for Youth Services in a library in 1986).
Susan Cooper-Up until the age of 28 when I first started working at the library I was not a fantasy reader, then I read The Dark is Rising. Talk about being the key to the opening of that genre's door!
Martha Brooks-showed me the power of short stories and how they can be successfully used with teens. It was her book the Paradise Cafe and Other Stories that went on many a school visit with me and the same book that was grabbed by teens after I was done.
Beth Goobie-taught me that there is a diverse group of readers out there who need the dark and gritty books that are written for teens in particular and that as a librarian I should never judge what book I think a young patron may want. One day I was shelf talking some books for a girl who was about thirteen or fourteen. As I went through the paper back spinners I kept coming across Beth Goobie's book The Dream Where Losers Go. which I had just read. It is a book about self harm. I thought oh, this patron is too young and doesn't seem like this book would interest her. Well, after the fourth time of coming across this book as we went through the spinners together I thought oh my goodness, book talk it. I did. The young girl immediately grabbed the book then pushed up her sleeves to show me her arms. As I looked at her scars, she explained she too used to have the same problem as the girl in the book.
Deb of Read Write Tell
Twitter Handle: @debamarshall
Suzy Turner has worked as a journalist, assistant editor, features editor and magazine editor. Early in 2010 however, she began writing full time and has since completed six books for young adults: The Raven Saga trilogy and The Morgan Sisters series and a chick lit novel entitled Forever Fredless. Although Suzy is a Yorkshire lass at heart, she left her home town of Rotherham, UK, to move to Portugal with her family when she was ten. The Algarve continues to be her home, where she lives with her childhood sweetheart and husband of 15 years, Michael, their two neurotic dogs and a cat who thinks she's a princess.