Authors Answer 17 – Writing Influences

Every author has someone or something that influenced them.  They can be anything from another author to a style.  Even a single book can be an influence.  This week’s question is brought to us by H. Anthe Davis.

J. R. R. Tolkien inspired an entire genre.
J. R. R. Tolkien inspired an entire genre.

Question 17: What authors, styles or intellectual movements have most influenced your writing?

Elizabeth Rhodes

First it was Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.  I liked reading multiple storylines at once from many points of view.  There are many authors who use this technique, but I saw it in Puzo’s book first.

The second was a movement that I’m not sure has a name.  I grew tired of stories that boiled down to clear-cut forces of good and evil fighting against each other.  Despite what we may feel, no one person or cause is completely good or evil.  Instead I wanted to write about heroes that weren’t really heroes at the end, villains who might have had a point but maybe didn’t after all, and people trapped in situations where you really couldn’t remain honorable.  Hence my tagline, “There is no such thing as a hero.”

Linda G. Hill

First, I love reading articles about writing. Picking up new tips to help me along is essential to keep up my own focus. Apart from that, I’m most positively influenced by true storytellers. The writings of Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon and Anne Rice (at least her older fiction) are factor largely in how I’ve progressed as a writer. I aspire to be just like any of them.

Caren Rich

Not sure how to answer this question.  I like  Southern writers who have interesting, if not odd, characters. Stories with layers.  I shy away from excess language  and sex but enjoy the conflicts characters have with each other.  I want a story where the reader wants to crawl inside and hang out with the characters and walk the streets of town.  I’m not saying I’m there yet, but I’m working on it.

I think, I’ve been influenced by Harper Lee and Eugene Walter, both Alabama writers.  Jan Karon, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mary Higgins Clark are other influences.

Does my writing reflect these influences?  Who knows, but each one has valuable lessons to learn about place, character, pacing, voice, and storytelling.

D. T. Nova

I would say that my tendency to be very dialogue-heavy when there’s no much action going in is influenced by Isaac Asimov; though my actual plots and the level of action don’t really resemble his stories.

The fact that I’m a skeptic and a feminist also shows in my writing.

Amy Morris-Jones

I am most influenced as a writer by books that focus on a strong female character. Issues of identity, empowerment, and development (of self, relationships, etc.) tend to influence my work.  Authors like Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty, and Ann Patchett are all doing what I like to think I’m doing (some days more than others!)

Jean Davis

The author’s style that has stuck with me most over the years would have to be Steven Brust. I love the snarky humor of his Vlad Taltos series.  A similar snark level has snuck into a couple of my novels and short stories.

Paul B. Spence

Rudyard Kipling, Roger Zelazny, David Weber, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein.  As far as styles or intellectual movements go, I don’t really pay attention to such things; I just try to tell a good story.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I’m going to be honest, I find this question difficult to answer. For sure I can say Stephen King has influenced my horror writing, and according to “I Write Like” (, I have elements of Tolkien and Lewis in my fantasy writing. Other than that, I couldn’t really say.

S. R. Carrillo

Hands down, the most meaningful thing that has happened to me in terms of literature was the discovery of transgressive fiction. It was such a dark and dirty corner of the literary world in a room full of bring and warm things that I devoured as much of it as I could and let it soak into my pores. It was only by reading books like American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr. and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk that I began to feel like there was a place for people like me – readers like me, writers like me. It also introduced me to more erotic and queer fiction, which further affirmed my place among these names and counterculture faces. Transgressive fiction has a special place in the darkest part of my heart.

H. Anthe Davis

I have a few author-mashups that I want to be like when I grow up — say, Jim Butcher’s snark combined with Robin Hobb’s ability to make you care about the fine details of a character’s life, or R.A. Salvatore’s combat plus Clive Barker’s freaky weird stuff.  And while I can’t say that there’s a style that I follow, I have noticed traces of utilitarianism, existentialism and nihilism in some of the characters, as well as various religious philosophies.  I try to keep that stuff out of the plot itself, but I like to let the PoV characters interpret events according to their personal beliefs — and argue with each other as needed.

Jay Dee Archer

Early on, my main influence in getting into writing was probably J. R. R. Tolkien.  I wanted to create a world like he did after reading The Hobbit.  I fell in love with fantasy with him.  As for science fiction, it wasn’t an author or style that did it, it was a TV show.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was a huge influence on me.

But as I grew older and went to university, two authors gave my desires a stronger voice in what I wanted to write, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks.  Ariadne is science fiction, but it will have elements of fantasy in it.  Anne McCaffrey did that, and it gave me the idea.  Terry Brooks’ Shannara showed a world after a great upheaval.  I’d thought about something in a similar way, but not quite like him.

But as for style, fantasy authors like Steven Erikson and science fiction authors like Alastair Reynolds, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Arthur C. Clarke have influenced my preference for realism and scientific accuracy.

How about you?

What has influenced you in your writing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “Authors Answer 17 – Writing Influences”

      1. I can’t take it seriously at all. But it does say I write like Stephen King more often than not. Of course, I think I write like myself, not him.

  1. Tracy, thanks for the link. I write like Cory Doctorow. Not sure if that’s a good thing, I’ve never read him. Now, I have to find a book and give it a whirl.

  2. Reblogged this on On the Edge of Enlightenment and commented:
    I don’t think what I said was incorrect (I’ve read so much by Asimov that I’m sure anything I have in common with Asimov isn’t a coincidence), but I think I’m probably more influenced by Robert A. Heinlein, Philip Pullman, and Tamora Pierce.

  3. Does being inspired NOT to imitate something I like count? When I was a lot younger (17), it seemed to me that there were far too many fantasy novels that tried (and generally made a mess of it) to imitate The Lord of the Rings (little did I know…!), and I was tired of all that. So I set out deliberately to write a fantasy story that contained many “similar” elements but was quite UNLIKE Tolkien’s famous trilogy. (I ought to state here that I loved LotR, and still do; my intention to do something different was not inspired by a dislike of the original.) Like Ngila Dickson (costume designer for the LotR movies), I was ‘sick of seeing tall, blond, perfect looking people’ (elves — or actors who play them) everywhere. So I wrote a fantasy story with an elven main character, and that character wasn’t tall (compared to ME, anyway) or perfect looking, or blond. Just to do something different.

    And my dragons are too small, too. 🙂

    Authors whose style or subject matter inspired me: Madeleine L’Engle, Andre Norton, C. S. Lewis (there’s a subset of fantasy called ‘portal fantasy’ these days — think about it, O Clone of mine), Roger Zelazny, Emma Bull, Charles de Lint, Lois McMaster Bujold… Lately there are a couple of television series I’m paying close attention to, studying how the writers handle plot pacing and characterization and dramatic irony (which I may be too fond of, if I’m being honest) — and for that matter, there was a television series back in the mid-80s that probably influenced my writing more than I’m willing to admit in public.

    1. I agree. I’m not interested in imitating anyone. I want to be as original as I can possibly be, though that is incredibly difficult to be totally original.

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