Tag Archives: influence

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.

Authors Answer 45 – Real World Influences in Fiction

When drawing influence for books, authors look in many places. They may get ideas from around them, from people they know, or from history. Today is the fourteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York. Events like this could have a big influence on writing.

Twin_Towers-NYCQuestion 45: It’s the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. How much do major world events influence your writing?

Linda G. Hill

I try not to state the date in my writing unless it’s necessary, so there aren’t many world events that actually make it into my novels. But from a politically correct, I suppose you could say, standpoint there has to be some sensitivity to such things. I guess you could say they don’t affect my writing in a direct way, but indirectly I find myself watching what I write.

Allen Tiffany

They certainly influence the fabric of our lives, but I don’t perceive that they have materially impacted my writing. It feels to me that core themes of loyalty, loneliness, belief, love, hope, friendship, loss, etc., are bigger, more powerful and longer lasting than a single event no matter how shocking or traumatic it may be in its time.

Gregory S. Close

Yes, in two distinct ways.

1) As a human being, I am very distracted and involved in world events and human suffering.  Columbine, the 2004 Tsunami, Fukushima, 9/11…  any or all of them can throw me into a bit of a fugue.  I can dwell on it, generally not productively, and run the narratives through my head over and over trying to figure out how it happened, how it could have been prevented, what I would have done in situation A or B if I had been there, or if my wife or children or mother or brother were impacted.

That naturally leads to…

2) As a writer, building characters and situations within a story is certainly influenced by observing the world.  Both historic and current events can feed into the creative process.

D. T. Nova

A fair bit. The main reason I won’t change my first novel to be set in the year it’s published instead of the year I started writing it is because parts near the beginning involve references to then-current or recent events. (It’s likely to diverge into alternate history if I reference any real-life events in any potential sequel.)

I have a character who’s indirectly named after a controversial figure, a character who’s the religion he is because of what a certain organization has become defined by (though I don’t use the real organization itself in a fictional way), and due to the coincidence of a character’s birthday falling on the date of a certain real-life protest I even have characters participating in that.

Paul B. Spence

Most of my writing, not at all. My contemporary stuff, a lot.

Caren Rich

It’s not necessarily world events as much as national and regional events. Famous hurricanes, the Deep Water oil spill, and the Great Recession have all played a part in my writing. I think if you want your writing to be believable, you have to pull in “real” events. Those events don’t necessarily have to be the center of your plot, but I think it makes reading more interesting.

Jean Davis

While I don’t copy any real world events in my writing, I do draw upon the real evils of mankind when working on antagonists. Sadly, real people are often capable of doing worse things than the stuff I imagine.

S. R. Carrillo

I have no idea how to answer this question. 6_6 I suppose not.

H. Anthe Davis

I look back a lot on history for inspiration — for characters and themes as much as for events.  Since my work doesn’t involve the real world, though, I try not to be too affected by current issues; I have no interest in being ‘topical’.  That said, sometimes a real-world situation will illuminate something that must have happened in my own world’s history, so it will prompt me to fill out more of my backstory with my world’s reaction to a similar event.  Since you mentioned the WTC attack, though, I will admit that one of my major characters is basically a terrorist, but I conceptualized him that way back in ’93.

Eric Wood

This an awesome question. As I sit here and ponder this one, I attempt to make the connection between my writing and worldly events. I have a great respect for all those involved with the attacks in 2001. I was in university approximately 40 miles from the the plane that crashed near Shanksville, PA and was scheduled to teach a freshman orientation class that morning. But to connect that (an other events) to my writing is difficult. I suppose there’s no direct connection. Though perhaps I become more aware of what I’m writing and how it could affect the children who read my stories.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

World events do affect my writing, but mostly just in an emotional way. For instance, after a huge, horrible event like September 11th my writing will inevitably take on a somber and depressing tone. If there’s a big scandal in politics I might find myself creating corrupt authority figure characters. If there’s a mysterious tragedy, like the disappearance of a plane, then I might find myself drawn to writing about strange, supernatural occurrences. Basically, world events affect my mood and the way I feel about certain subjects, and as a result my writing is affected as well.

Elizabeth Rhodes

They don’t have a direct impact, but the influence is still there.  I don’t reference specific events, but certain movements and mentalities have influenced scenarios in my writing.  My interest in end of the world scenarios stem from a pessimism with current society that I think is common among a lot of people.  The 99% movement and working in service jobs influenced the plots of a few other stories of mine, but they aren’t fully fleshed out yet.

Jay Dee Archer

In my science fiction writing, there is some influence. I do draw on real predictions of the effects of climate change on Earth to create the future conditions that are present in the world. I have also used events in world history to create similar events in the future. But I think that it’s not so much the actual events that happen, but the way that people behave that influences me.

As for fantasy, I don’t use any real world events, and any events that happen in my story have very little resemblance to anything real, but human behaviour is what I get from real events. I think that’s the most important thing I draw from them.

How about you?

If you write, are you influenced by real world events? If you don’t write, do you like to see world events in novels? Let us know in the comments below.

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” (https://iwl.me/), 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.

Authors Answer 15 – The Influence of Media

Since the early twentieth century, new types of media have become popular ways of telling stories.  Books were no longer the only way to get your stories.  Movies, radio, television, computer games, the internet, and more kinds of media have influenced many authors. But how are our authors influenced? This week’s question is brought to you by D. T. Nova.

645px-Family_watching_television_1958Question 15: All of us write prose fiction (unless I’m mistaken) in an era that has an astounding variety of storytelling media. Has your writing been significantly influenced by any works of newer media?

Elizabeth Rhodes

When I first started writing novels in earnest a few years ago, I became heavily influenced by the music I happened to be listening to at the time.  Jasper has influences from song lyrics by Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, and The Cult.  I have other stories in the works that have been influenced in similar ways from TV shows and video games.  For the most part the newer media just plants a seed, as in “what if these zombies are aware of their transformation?.”  The premise and plot are things I figure out later.

Linda G. Hill

I’m greatly influenced by whomever I’m reading at the current moment, which is why when I’m writing I need to stay away from badly constructed prose. I think it’s because I tend not to really read anymore as much as I tend to study. So if, for instance, I’m reading Stephen King I write like him (which is incidentally most like my natural storytelling voice). Alternately, if I’m reading something with a lot of poor grammar, I tend to edit it as I go along. I find then in my own writing, I pay far too much attention to editing and not enough to flow, which stifles my natural writing voice.

Caren Rich

Not that I know of.  Well, that’s a short answer.

D. T. Nova

While I fall short of my inspiration, I think the biggest influence on what I consider ideal dialogue is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Some of the clothing and hairstyles that my characters tend to have are influenced by anime and manga.

And then, my first novel more or less belongs to a genre that originated in manga (super robot), and acknowledges those roots with a few direct homages to Mazinger Z.

While there are certainly novels I’ve read with similar pacing, it’s possible that my pacing is influenced by serialized media.

Amy Morris-Jones

Although I am very much a prose writer at heart, I’m in love with some of the “hybrid” creations I’m seeing in the online lit mag world. lit mag world. For example, I appreciate that WhiskeyPaper asks writers whom they publish to suggest a song that goes with their work somehow. Literary Orphans loads up its site with beautiful artwork that supports the writing incredibly well. I also appreciate Storychord where they highlight their multi-media goal: “Every other Monday, Storychord features one story + one image + a one-song soundtrack — each by a different, underexposed artist — for a collaborative, multi-media storytelling experience.”

Jean Davis

I’d love to say yes and feel more worldly, but alas, I write what I like and what pops into my head. The only thing that has significantly changed is that I don’t pay as much attention to word count because there are markets for pretty much any length these days.

Paul B. Spence

Newer?  I find myself influenced by the storytelling media of film and television. I think visually and cinematically about the action.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

There’s definitely no doubt on this one. Popular culture, whether from books, movies, or other forms, has a huge influence on what I write, because I write about what what I love, what excites me, what makes me cry, and what scares the hell out of me. Nowhere to Hide came to life as the result of several years of zombie movies, zombie TV shows, zombie books, and zombie video games. The book that I’m currently working on (which will be part one of a four-part series) is inspired in a lot of ways by several YA series’ that I’ve read in recent years. And stories that I wrote in the past? You’d better believe that they were inspired by what I was watching at the time. Honestly, if you’re not being influenced in some way by the media that you’re surrounded by, your writing is probably extremely boring because it’s human nature that we get some of our best ideas from other people.

S. R. Carrillo

Not exactly. I try to keep the modernity up, seeing as how I don’t write historical fiction, but other than that, I’m largely un-influence-able that way.

H. Anthe Davis

My writing has been greatly influenced by roleplaying games and by anime (Japanese animation).  I really enjoy the bombastic visuals and the wild settings that you can get from both, and since anime is quite willing to twist tropes and deal with darker ideas, it’s given me a lot to think about regarding how I handle plot complications — and how I describe them.  Since I deal in high-magic fantasy, it also gives me a kind of visual lexicon for magical effects, of the type that (until just recently with CGI) you couldn’t expect to see anywhere outside of animation.  I’m also a rules-and-structure nerd, so I’ve built my own RPG framework underneath a lot of the story, but I don’t confine the characters to it really.  You won’t hear dice rolling in the background.

Jay Dee Archer

This is a difficult one.  I find that most of my influence is from good old-fashioned books.  However, in my earlier days of writing, I did have somewhat of an influence from fantasy RPGs and anime.  In university, I watched some. Though these days, my ideas are more grounded in hard sci-fi novels.  I guess I also get some influence from the internet, particularly real science news.  And in fact, a recent physics news report gave me an idea.  Or more precisely, it reinforced an earlier idea that I discarded.

How about you?

Other than books, what other media has influenced your writing?  Are there any specific examples?  Let us know in the comments below.