Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Authors with Influence

By Annette Dashofy

Last week, one of my critique buddies posed a question to me. She asked me what author has most influenced me. Or something to that effect.

I’ve given it some thought and I still can’t narrow it down.

For one thing, I have one list of authors who influenced me as a READER and another who influenced me as a WRITER..

Looking back, my favorite authors were an eclectic bunch. I loved F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck. I also loved Zane Gray westerns. At some point, I discovered Phyllis Whitney and Mary Higgins Clark and that was the big transition for me into suspense and crime fiction.

When I try to determine which author most influences me as a writer, narrowing it down is impossible! Laura Lippman, Lisa Scottoline, MJ Rose are high up on the list. And of course, Nancy Martin! But Robert Parker is on the list, too, along with Daphne Du Maurier and Jodi Piccoult. Most recently, I’ve become captivated with the writing style of Chris Grabenstein.
And to prove that my tastes remain eclectic, I’m deeply enamored with the wordsmithing of Tom Robbins and Hunter S. Thompson.

I guess, if pressured to pick just ONE author who has, over the years, had the deepest influence on me I would have to choose…drum roll, please…

Walter Farley.

As a kid, I checked out every single one of his books from the library. If the library didn’t have one, I saved my pennies and bought it. Just a few years ago, I stumbled across a paperback version of The Black Stallion at a flea market and snatched it up. I’ve even suggested that my own veterinary mysteries might appeal to grown-ups who read Walter Farley as a kid. So far, that claim hasn’t gotten me a publishing contract, but I steadfastly maintain that it’s true.

So now that I’ve pondered and deliberated and come up with ONE author who has most influenced me, it’s your turn. And if you can’t narrow it down to one, I’ll accept lists. What author has most influenced YOU? As a reader or a writer. Or both.


Gina said...

Annette -
You realize this is an impossible question, right?
My childhood, like yours, apparently, was spent reading about horses. The first time I remember being enamored by words was somehting in a very early grade school reader called, "The Dark Pony," which was a metaphor for sleep and dreams. I haven't seen it in decades, but I remember, "The dark pony comes galloping, galloping."
The first full length book I ever read (in second grade!) was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. And of course, I loved Walter Farley. If UFOs are real, of course the aliens would come to earth to look at horses!
My favorite author in high school was Thomas Hardy, but I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on, including the Bible, which I think had a big influence on the rhythm of my writing.
Current influences include J.K. Rowling, whose brilliance at crafting scenes and interweaving multiple subplots is unsurpassable.

Tory said...

I LOVED Walter Farley!!!

I do think the books I read as a child have had the biggest influence on me: Laura Ingalls Wilder (The "Little House" books),
C.S. Lewis (the Narnia series), and Lenora Mattingly Weber (the Beany Malone books.) I still pull them out and read them when I'm feeling like life is just too much for me to cope with!

Joyce said...

Annette, you're going to hate me--I've never read Walter Farley!

I can't come up with a single author, either. When I was a child, I read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. I wanted to BE Nancy Drew. (Except I would have ditched Ned. Loser.)

Then I moved on to Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. If someone could go from being a poor governess to finding true love with the lord of the manor, anything was possible.

One book that greatly influenced me was To Kill a Mockingbird. I think that book is one of the reasons I like to write in first person. Scout's voice grabs the reader from the very first sentence. That book teaches you everything you need to know about voice.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Walter WHO?

For me it was Tom Clancy. I mean, I love Stephen King and THE STAND is my favorite book. But Clancy got me to reading thrillers and eventually writing them. I think if you read my book, you'll see the connection.

Annette said...

Joyce, I could never hate you. We can't all be crazed horse kids.

I'm having major Internet gremlins recently, so if I go silent, it's because I've been shut out. Just so you know...

Gina, Black Beauty was another one. Plus My Friend Flicka and Misty of Chincoteague. But those influenced my life and that of my parents (small child pleading, "Can I puhleeze have a pony??? Pulll-LLLEEEEZE!) more than my writing.

Annette said...

Will, Walter Farley is known by more little girls and GROWN little girls than is any adolescent rock star. And just so we're even, I haven't read Clancy either. But I do know WHO he is!

Dana King said...

As a reader, probably Raymond Chandler. As a writer, also Chandler, though my non-PI stories owe a lot to Elmore Leonard and Ed McBain.

Jennie Bentley said...

Good question, Annette!

Two answers, actually: Elizabeth Peters AKA Barbara Michaels AKA Barbara Mertz. I discovered her back in 1994, and discovered a whole genre at the same time. The kind of genre I wanted to write in. Some mystery, some history, some romance...

Second answer: Tasha Alexander, because if it hadn't been for her, I wouldn't now be the very small fry that I am, in publishing terms. I've done a blog post on this before, so I'll refrain from babbling again, but she's the kind of writer, and the kind of role model, and the kind of friend that everyone should be lucky enough to have, and very few people do.

Gina said...

Wow, Annette, I forgot all about Misty and the other ponies of the Outer Banks. And I've read dozens of books by the prolific Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters. [Did I mention that my undergraduate major was Anthropology?] Her witty way with words is definitely an influence.
Oh, and of course Raymond Chandler!
And I forgot all about Margaret Atwood.
An easier question might be: Which authors haven't influenced your writing?

jnantz said...

Oh wow. When I was a kid it was the Encyclopedia Brown books, then the Hardy Boys. In school it was Shakespeare, Shaw, Orwell, Harper Lee, and Stoppard right alongside LeGuin, Orson Scott Card, and Piers Anthony.

Later, obviously Stephen King (for me it was THE GUNSLINGER that got me started on thrillers, and RAGE got me through High School). Then Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, Michael Crichton, Robert Crais, Lee Child.

Here lately I'd say Barry Eisler, Ken Bruen, Zoe Sharp, Laura Lippman (Johnny-come-lately over here), J.D. Rhoades, and Brett Battles.

And whatever the hell excites me next....

Lee Lofland said...

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I read my first Hardy Boys mystery. I was also influenced by the poetry of Poe and my relative, Dr. John Lofland (he and Poe were good friends).

Later, I became hooked on the short stories I read in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Who knew that someday I'd be running a short story contest judged by the editor of that very magazine?

Anyway, the authors in the mystery community are all wonderful people. Some of my present-day influences are J.A. (Judy) Jance, Jeff Deaver, SJ Rozan, Jan Burke, James Lee Burke, and Robert B. Parker.