One of the best ways to become a better writer is to read. A lot. Reading is probably what got you interested in writing to begin with. For me, reading led to both of my present day passions: Art and writing.
Children’s books gave me an early appreciation of illustration. Later on, the fantasy genre gave me an appreciation of the written word.
As Halloween approaches, the season takes on the flavor of retrospection. I start to look back at how far I’ve come over the course of the year and that in turn leads me to think further back. This year while taking that look back I began to wonder what writers influenced me along the way. I never really sat down and thought about it before. So, here’s a short list of authors and the books they wrote that stuck with me over the years in no particular order.
- Terry Pratchett. Sir Terry Pratchett is the one and only author who never fails to make me laugh out loud while reading his books. I got hooked on his Discworld series when a friend of mine in Wales first put The Color of Magic into my hands. After that, I had to read them all. This is no casual undertaking, Pratchett is a prolific writer with dozens of books under his belt. What I like most is his wit and sense of humor. He also has a way of weaving messages into his stories without them coming out preachy. He makes me think and reminds me to find humor in everything.
- Pete Hamill. Pete Hamill’s novel Forever was given to me by my Dad. I love historical fiction and this one was rich in the history of my home state, New York. The story of a man given immortality and trapped on the island of Manhattan for all eternity captivated me right from the start. I loved Pete’s voice and the rich details in the story that brought old New York to life.
- Robert Aspirin. I like quirky humor. I like authors who play with words in such a way they make me laugh while I think. There are also times when I don’t want to think. Where Discworld made me ponder the themes presented, Robert Aspirin’s Myth Adventures series let me forget the world and enjoy a light fantasy adventure. Robert has also collaborated with a few authors and this is what got me interested in the whole idea of collaboration when I read his Theives World compilation.
- James Michner. One word: Epic. Big, chunky books no less than a thousand pages. Huge, sprawling stories that sometimes spanned generations of characters.
- Steven King. I have always thought King’s books were so much better than the movies. Why? Because so much of the way King writes his characters is by getting inside their heads. That kind of thing doesn’t translate very well to the big screen at all. Steven gave me an appreciation for the horror genre and how to show, not tell.
These are just a few of the authors I can think of off the top of my head. How about you? What authors and books influenced you on your writing journey?