Authors Answer 103 – Top Influencing Books

Authors have many influences, and it’s something we’ve talked about before. However, we never did focus on the books themselves. Authors tend to also be avid readers, and a lot of the books we read will influence us, even if it’s subconsciously. But which ones have the strongest influence on our writing and other areas?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 103 – What do you consider to be the book that has influenced you the most?

H. Anthe Davis

I can’t point to any book that has influenced me sufficiently for this.  If I had to point at anything at all, it would be an anime series — Revolutionary Girl Utena — which fascinated me during my formative teen years and continues to help me get past some of my mental hang-ups.  No books, though; they’re all just part of the big past pile.

Jean Davis

Goodness, there are so many, and the influence factor depends on what genre I happen to be writing at the time. I’d have to say that each of my novels was influenced by a different book I’ve read.  But “The” book? I’m going to stand by Watership Down as it was one of the first books I read growing up that sucked me into a different world and showed me how emotions can hit a reader.

Beth Aman

Probably the Eragon series, simply because reading it gave me the courage and inspiration to get through the rough draft of my first novel.  I was a homeschooled teenager writing my own high-fantasy book, and I felt like I could relate so much to Christopher Paolini.  That series helped me realize that maybe being a writer wasn’t impossible.  Not to mention, I loved the dragons, the characters, and the world.  It’s not a flawless series, but it’s pretty great.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

There are tons of books that have influenced my writing and even my life in general, but the one that probably influenced me the most is “Invitation to the Game” by Monica Hughes. I’ve brought up this book before, but it’s a story about some recent school graduates surviving a dreary dystopian future by dedicating their lives to a strange and mysterious underground virtual “Game”. It’s one of the first novels I ever read (that wasn’t a “Babysitter’s Club” book), and I originally bought it because the summary sounded very similar to a set of foolish stories that my best friend and I were writing.

It turned out to be nothing like our stories, but I fell in love with it none-the-less. I loved the variety of the characters, the familiarity of the narrator’s voice, and the whole idea of this future world where mankind has essentially destroyed it’s own capability to move forward. It was strange and different and it opened my eyes to a different kind of storytelling at a young age. I’ve spent my writing career since then trying to create something of my own that I feel is just as powerful and wonderful.

C E Aylett

Depends in what way you mean. I bought a GCSE text book that influenced me to get my head around French grammar!

But seriously, if you mean influenced or inspired me to take up writing – none. That is purely a need to express myself through an art form.

If you mean influenced my life generally, I still don’t think there’s any one book I could pinpoint. I always used to read for fun  –  which I think is a reason often overlooked or frowned upon in some quarters (like education). As I’ve got older I read a little more on the literary end.

You know how you get some people who read Huckleberry Finn or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and something resonated so deeply with them it moulded a part of their identity in some way as they were moving into and through early adulthood? Yeah, well, I’ve never been one of those. He-he.

When it comes to influencing my actual writing, I think I’ve mentioned before that I dip into Girl With a Pearl Earring often for learning technique, though I’m certainly not trying to emulate my stories to be like Tracy Chevalier’s. More like some weird concoction of Irvine Welsh, Jilly Cooper and Chevalier.

Eric Wood

I can’t say there has been one that has influenced me personally. However, a few books have really influenced my writing. The Book Thief and The Messenger (both by Zusak) opened my eyes to using different (unlikely) characters, different points of view. Terry Brook’s writing style helped me change from telling the story to showing the story.

Gregory S. Close

I don’t really know, because the influence isn’t really conscious.  Obviously, for someone my age, Lord of the Rings and Narnia were a huge influence in my childhood.  A Wizard of Earthsea made magic feel real, with real consequences.  Thomas Covenant sort of shattered my expectations of what fantasy could be.  The Saga of Pliocene Exiles showed me a lot about a multi-POV epic and genre-blending (and research, by the Pits, holy freakin’ research).  Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett – how to laugh while still telling a good story.  Harry Potter – it reminded me how important whimsy can be, even in a serious story.  A Song of Ice & Fire – how brutal you can be with your characters, how gritty your reality could be, and how I enjoyed reading it but didn’t want to go quite that far with my own writing.  Riyria for how you can tell a deceptively deep story with engaging characters and keep the plot moving swift and sure.  Brood of Bones and Tears of Rage for how good Indie Fantasy and writing can be, and The Awakening series on the (more) SciFi side of things.

And then, after thinking through all that, it was probably Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy (and Beyond) that really first influenced me as a writer.

Paul B. Spence

Dear gods, how do I answer that? I suppose I would go with The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I really like the gritty realism and the view of how the culture of the Earth changes over time. I read it many times in my youth, and still re-read it every year or so. Really anything by Heinlein, Norton, Lovecraft…

D. T. Nova

I really don’t know. I’ve been influenced by many books, but I’m not sure I can single one out as definitely more of an influence than others. Possibly Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, but there’s also a good chance I could be overlooking something I read at a much younger age.

Elizabeth Rhodes

This is a tough one. I don’t think I honestly have an answer to this one. I’m influenced by various authors (Asimov, Bradbury, Slattery, Martin) and their styles, but there’s no one book that I can pin down as a major influence.

Linda G. Hill

Wow. Um… There are so many. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. The depth of emotion she put into the relationship between Lestat and Nicki is unparalleled.

Cyrus Keith

I know it sounds pat, because I’m sure so many people say this, but I have to be honest. The book that has influenced me the most is the Bible.

In 1985, I came to the end of myself. And when you’re staring at the razor against your wrist, believe me, you’re at the end of something. I was in actuality within minutes of ending my life. But God intervened in such a real way, I had no choice but to believe. Like, He really saved my life. And the debt I owed to the one who saved me made me want to read more about how to be like him. I started to see the Bible as a book of promises, not a book of rules. And it’s been the most profound influence on me since then.

Jay Dee Archer

I think in some way, every book I’ve read has influenced me. However, there are some that have influenced me in a major way. The one that set me on the course of worldbuilding and fantasy was The Hobbit. I absolutely loved the fact that it had a map, and I couldn’t get enough of it. It strongly influenced my desire to write fantasy (even though I’m writing science fiction) and use maps. I have drawn some very detailed maps for Ariadne, and I thank The Hobbit for that.

However, I would also say that Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series has influenced my desire to write about a human colony on another planet, which allows me to shape a new society, but with futuristic technology. I love science fiction as well as fantasy, but I wanted a remote world where I could create a new future for humanity and throw in a twist.

How about you?

Are there any books that have influenced you, whether as a writer or a reader? Let us know in the comments below.

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11 thoughts on “Authors Answer 103 – Top Influencing Books”

  1. Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. It was the first book I read just for fun, and convinced me to give reading another shot. Up to that point, my English teachers made me hate reading. It was something boring, and the books were dumb. This, a story of a boy a bit older than me, I could get behind. I STILL recommend it for every reader I know.

  2. Oh, so many books! To answer this question, I decided to identify the book that was the first of its type at a particular stage of faith.
    Intuitive-Projective (toddler) Fairy tale picture books
    Mythic-Literal (child) Heidi (first full length novel)
    Synthetic-Conventional (adolescent) Lord of the Rings (first trilogy)
    Individuative-Reflective (early adult) Dune (first sci fi) and The Crystal Cave (first historical fantasy) and Agatha Christie (first mysteries)
    Conjunctive (later adult) The Glass Bead Game and Notes from the Underground (first integration of metacognition into narrative)
    Universalizing (not there yet)

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