Writers are readers first. We can’t succeed as scribes unless we’re reading the masters, but who are those legends in our minds? Who are the giants that led us to believe we could be one of them, if only in our small world? Here are the authors who influenced me on a greater-than-average level.
Two small caveats: I hate blog posts about lists because I think they talk down to our readers, but y’all seem to love lists, so here we are. I also hate making lists because I always forget someone important. Look for that to happen here.
In alphabetical order —
Agatha Christie and Edgar Rice Burroughs: Bundling these two because I read a lot of their books from the top floor of the Washoe County Library when I was evolving into an adult reader. Modern mystery and suspense authors owe these two a huge debt.
Robert Heinlein: “If you were stranded on a desert island…”? Here’s my answer. Give me Asimov and Bradbury, too, and you don’t have to rescue me. Ever.
James Herriot: Britain’s most famous veterinarian drew on his experiences to weave tales about animals and the humans that cared for him. If you find heart in my stores, Herriot was one influence.
Stephen King: This is still America, right? Mr. King and I have grown apart in the 21st Century, but I read everything he published at one point before I picked up a word processor to try out the writing thing.
Harper Lee: John Grisham almost made the A List until I remember he wants to write books the way Harper Lee wrote the greatest piece of fiction in American Literature. End of story.
Anne McCaffery: Folks have noted that I write strong women characters, and here’s part of the reason why. The Dragons of Pern books plus her other series formed my literary foundation of seeing the world through strong women.
JK Rowling: Children’s stories, right? Not so much. Harry’s world has so much going on below the surface, and I was fascinated by Ms. Rowling’s writing techniques.
William Shakespeare: Well, duh. I took every university class I could back in the day as an excuse to read Uncle Bill, especially his four tragedies. Read his works as an adult and see what you missed when you were required to read Romeo and Juliet for a class assignment.
Robert Louis Stevenson: My first literary master and he set me on the road to becoming a writer. Thank you, Treasure Island.
Herman Wouk: My go-to books when I need to escape are The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I’m never bored after twenty or thirty readings. The Caine Mutiny is amazing, too. (You’re a literary nerd if you knew that’s Mr. Wouk at the top of this post.)
Next Level: Asimov, Bradbury, Clavell, Clancy, S. Collins, Connelly, A.C. Doyle, Hemingway, Grisham, Herbert, Niffenger, Michael and Jeff Shaara, A. Tan, Turow, Twain, A. Walker, Varley, E.B. White.
I will read them someday: Austen, Crane, Dickens.
I wish I didn’t like his books: O.S. Card.