Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who Most Influenced You as a Writer?

Every writer has people in real life and authors they've never met who put them on the path to scribe-dom, whether it was an encouraging teacher or a writer who revealed what was possible with the written word.

Who influenced you along the way? Who helped make you the writer you are today?






161 comments:

Aimless Writer said...

My brother. His high school journalism teacher told him he'd never make it in the newspaper biz. He's been a reporter for three major papers, had his own column and is now a senior editor. He didn't listen to anyone who told him he couldn't do it. He just kept moving forward.
Never give up. Words to live by.

Writerwize? Poe. He wrote from the heart and that scary place deep within the brain.

ladyn said...

The usual friends, family and teachers. How can you not be influenced by those around you? The biggest thing I learned was persistence.

As far as authors...there are way WAY too many to list. I'd say the one right now that influences the most is Patricia Briggs. After I read her stuff I'm so excited to sit down and write mine. Not because her stuff is bad or I think I can write it better, but because she feeds my imagination. And that is priceless.

Keri Ford said...

My husband. He told me to "stop reading books and start writing them since that Harry Potter lady was selling like 13 copies a second."

I jotted down some notes on my first manuscript the next day. Haven't looked back since.

curious said...

Nathan: so sorry to intrude on this great topic, but I had an out of the blue question and don't know where else to post it. Maybe you've posted on this before?

My question: when does an author get paid? Like: a publisher buys the book on, say, Monday Oct. 1. On what date would you get paid? (I know there's advances, if you could quickly explain that, that would be cool.)

Thanks...and sorry again for the non sequitur here...

ashley said...

A teacher my senior year of college. She asked us that one question that I'm sure most students hear at least once during their college career - "What one thing would you do if you knew you could succeed at it?" Writing was what immediately came to my mind. I only wish I had realized my love of writing sooner, so I could have chosen a more appropriate major! :)

Also my husband. He is incredibly supportive and encouraging about my writing and he pushes me to keep going when I get frustrated.

gerriwritinglog said...

Michael Moorecock, Roger Zelanzy, and Andre Norton.

Michael Moorecock taught me that not all stories have to be happy, or have a happy ending, to be satisfactory.

Roger Zelanzy taught me that stories don't have to be written in perfect prose. They can ramble and be tangental and agnsty and still awesome.

Andre Norton made me want to write stories that she would enjoy just as much as I enjoyed hers.

markwise said...

I have two authors that influence me the most.

First off, no combines humor, satire, action, and drama like Terry Pratchett. I hope one day to even come close to being able to do what he does.

Secondly, the Master of Messing with Your Mind, Ray Bradbury. I find his stories always intriguing and always thought provoking.

As to what made me most want to start writing, it was actually a video game called "Uncharted Waters". I wanted to write a story set in that world. Then the stories just flowed freely after that.

Paul West said...

Jack London and John Steinbeck. They've been my heros since high school.

Anonymous said...

My friends and family haven't influenced me as much as C.S. Lewis. I'm a fantasy nut, but also a servant of Christ. His books showed me that you can write fantasy in a Christian way, and that's what I've been trying to do ever since I read them.

Terri said...

Stephen King and his book 'On Writing.' I still return to it when I need inspiration and a 'permission' to write. I like his statement that pearls come from grit and irritation inside the oyster's shell, not attending seminars on pearl-making.

7-iron said...

John Updike.

among others.

Joshua Skurtu said...

There have been many people in real life and in the authorial world that have influenced me.

My first encouragement came from two girls in a creative writing class my freshman year at junior college. It was my first time writing, EVER, and the first short story I had ever written, and after the class critique they came up to me and asked if they could keep their copies of the story and if I would autograph them. I have not had a request for an autograph since then, but that always stuck in my mind. Of course, I refused and told them to get lost, but.. No, I did autograph them. :-P

The second was a few weeks later. I had entered a short story contest for my school newspaper, "Scary Halloween Stories," was the contest. One of the judges heard someone say my name in the hall on campus, randomly, and stopped me in the hall. She said "Joshua Skurtu?" She then went on to tell me how much she loved my entry and that she had fought tooth and nail to have it be one of the winners, but more of the conservative professors had thought it too "scary" and "violent" and alas it did not win. She insisted I continue writing, and I did! :-P

Another one was from a professor at the U of Hawaii. My first creative writing class there, he stopped me as I left class and asked to talk to me in the hall. He loved my story and insisted that I send it out to publish. He even said he would give me a list on EZines to send it to, and did email the list later that week.

Of Authors, I think Douglas Adams has been a big influence. I love the idea that literature can be big and exciting and still funny. I read it when I was a teenager, when my reading practice was at its lowest, before I even started writing, and fell in love with it. I definitely mourned him when he passed.

Well, I could go on for ages, so I will just say, people don't realize how EASY it is to be an influence in someone's life. If you go OUT of your way to tell someone to keep at it, THEY WILL REMEMBER! If you see a writer that you think needs encouragement or doesn't get enough praise for what they do, take the time to say "Don't stop writing. Ever." You could change a life forever.

Thanks,

Josh

Kandis Burns said...

Two high school English teachers who told me I could do it, one college writing professor who told me I couldn't, and a bunch of friends who told me (and keep telling me) to finish my book already.

Writerly? Like any good holder of an English degree, I make sacrifices at the altars of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and on sunny mornings over brunch- Austen.

Tannat Madiran said...

Palahniuk - who taught me the idea of minimalism.

Hempel - who (r/d)efined the idea of minimalism.

Mark Richard - a poet who happens to write. Who can also give Faulkner a run, seriously.

Clevenger - who shows the importance of being an editor yourself. He is a saint if God is in the details.

Danielewski - there are no borders on the printed page.

My Wife - the effuisve geyser of constructive criticism and positive reinforcement.

My Daughter - who laughs at my jokes, and seems to be sincere in her response to my antics.

My Father - who made me understand the art of storytelling and lying are just two names for the same animal.

Finally, Tragedy. Suffering gave me focus, reset my values, and made me commit to all aspects of life.

Dharma Kelleher said...

Among the many people who have influenced me are Nancy Smith, one of my high school English teachers, and Coleman Barks, the pre-eminent translator of Rumi poetry and one of my creative writing professors.

Anne Lamott ("Bird by Bird") and Lawrence Block (particularly his WD column on fiction back in the day) are two authors who have helped me bring my prose out of the sewer and into the gutter where it belongs.

AR said...

Anon 10:45

I'm a Christian, too...do we really have to subvert everything into an announcement of how dedicated we are to our faith?

Anyway, I can see how reading Lewis might show you that fantasy could be Christian. But the statement might be misleading. Properly speaking it was George McDonald who pioneered the transformation of the classic fairy tale into the modern fantasy novel. He did so as a medium to express the mystery and wonder that had been lost from religious practice in general. Lewis and Tolkein followed MacDonald's lead. In other words, fantasy is an originally Christian form. Perhaps the last.

And as Philip Pullman showed us, it's a form that can be adopted to exactly the opposite use as well. I think one thing we can read from the contemporary fantasy scene is that because of how the whole genre was conceived in the first place, fantasy loses its steam when there is no consistent, deeply held metaphysic behind it, even if it's an anti-metaphysic like Pullman's.

The default metaphysical idea that is fueling most fantasy novels coming out right now is the idea that darkness is breaking into our world and sweeping everything away. If you started there, I can really understand how Lewis might seem revolutionary. George MacDonald might seem even more so. In his work, darkness or evil is a dream from which everyone must eventually awaken if God's justice is to be vindicated.

sarah said...

My family for leaving me alone with an over-active imagination.

(No... I wasn't abandoned or neglected... just young enough to be the only child home when the other were in school.)

I really didn't start reading until I was in high school.

Anonymous said...

Ar-

I was meerly saying that Lewis was the first author who did that that I read. At that time, I was having mixed feelings about whether it was alright to read fantasy. Some of my Christian friends were banned from reading things like Harry Potter and Redwall. His writing staightened that out for me. And, I like writing fantasy with a good message. I'm only fourteen, so I know I don't know everything about the writing world, but I know what I enjoy reading and writing.

Steppe said...

You should underline "most" or it gets into a mental tug of war to get a non-rambling reply. I could give five or six easy to recognize answers but the obscure person who influenced me was Eric Fromme's "The Sane Society." He was trying to carve out that no man's land between Frued's left brain heirarchal strategy and Yung's right brain dream archetype strategy. The book never succeeds in doing it and the puzzle seemed incomplete like two islands without a bridge or ferry system.
So I guess it kind of haunted me like a thought black hole waiting to gobble me up.
For pleasure I like cowboy books. "Gidde up little doggies."

Merry Monteleone said...

Curious,

I think payment schedule is determined by the publishing house (or between agent and publishing house) and usually advances are broken down into multiple payments. I think standard was half on signed contract and balance at acceptance of final edits, but now I've been reading about houses breaking it into three payments, the third on publication date.

I'm not an expert, just done a lot of reading and research, so Nathan might have a better answer for you.

Influences:

Writers are too numerous to mention. I loooove reading. I love getting so wound up in a story that it's painful to read the final word because it means putting the whole world away - there have been many authors who've done that for me over my lifetime.

As far as people in my actual life, I had a few English teachers and a Vice Principal in high school that told me I was a writer before I really believed I could be one - and I owe them a lot.

My mom, who read voraciously and passed on the genes. And my dad, who never wrote a word, but that man had the best voice for stories there ever was, he just told them around the dinner table instead of writing them down.

Wayland said...

Mr. Jerry Young, the greatest English teacher and Drama coach to ever tread the planet...

...even if it wasn't for very long.

Anonymous said...

Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was transported by the adventure. He made me want to be a writer. As far as 'writerly' influences, there's a ton of them: Steinbeck, McCarthy, James Ellroy, William Gibson, Ray Bradbury, just to name a few.

Michelle Moran said...

My second grade teacher. Seriously! She would listen to my endless stories and was gracious enough to actually pretend she liked them (and after school no less)!

Miss Viola Bookworm said...

My mom who read to me, literally, from the second I was born. She gave me the love of books and stories.

Mrs. Sharp, Mrs. Goshorn, Mrs. Carter, and Miss Leeson...all teachers who inspired me, gave me confidence, and encouraged me with their kind words about my writing at an early age.

A college professor who took me out in the hallway one day and said, "I know you want to teach, but you BETTER keep writing."

My friend who got me involved with Nanowrimo years ago. It was the swift kick in the butt I needed to commit to writing daily. Two and a half novels (and several other beginnings) later, I have never quit.

Stephen King: On Writing.

Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird.

And finally, Lauren Weisberger. She doesn't rank at the top of my favorite writers list or those I worship (ie. McEwan, Bohjahlian, Austen, Hemingway), but she has a statement in her acknowledgements page for her first novel that changed my life as a writer. She thanks her parents who, as she says, are the only people who think her book rivals War and Peace.

Weisberger jokes at her own expense and knows what she writes, and that simple statement made me realize that I can't be anybody else as a writer. And once I started writing my stories and stopped trying to emulate others and their style, the words just started coming, and they've never stopped.

For me, learning to tell my own stories without trying to be anyone else is one of the best things I've done as a writer.

Ulysses said...

For the full story, go here.
The condensed version:
My brother's friend, who wanted me to write a comic book he could draw.
Another of his friends who fed my voracious reading habit.
Kipling.
Faulkner.
Tolkein.
Hemmingway. I wish I could say as little as he did while still saying all that needs be said.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Most lately? You. :)

Also my fellow editors Lesley Smith and Dave Hughes, buddy and author extrordinaire Stuart Neville, the many brilliant writers in my slush, and bands too countless to name, but I'll try: Sting, Sum 41, The Offspring, The Indulgers, Coldplay, Rise Against, U2...

Lauren Fobbs said...

Well, I had always been shy my entire life; not so much now, but it still shows itself sometimes. So, I invented stories in my head to keep me from going crazy from lack of social skills. (I was such a dork! Even so, everyone liked me... I mean, everyone, jocks included. They just didn't talk to me.) All throughout grade school my english teachers would tell me that I had a beautiful way of combining words. So... I had a bunch of stories... why not get them down on paper? :3 I thought it would be a good way to finally be heard.

That sounded made up and cliche, but it's not. True story.

Then I started to read more complex novels and discovered H. G. Wells. Honestly, who wouldn't want to be a writer after reading Wells? His way of writing is so real, and I always feel as if I'm the protagonist every step of the way. Amazing. And I really like that old, classic style of describing things. Beautiful.

Anyway, that's why I'm a writer :3

Anonymous said...

A lovely, generous, wonderful poet named, Emilie Glen. I was ten when my mother gave her some of my writing. She became my first teacher.

Michael said...

I wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. That was when I started voluntarily reading books, most of which were way beyond my age range. Then, a high school teacher, Mrs. Ryan gave me a copy of Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing before I graduated. Bradbury has been my favorite writer ever since, and has influenced how I write more than any other author.

Anne-Marie said...

Mostly all the great rock bands and songwriters I wanted to be like when I was younger. Pete Townshend in particular, even though I did not end up enjoying his prose the way I do his lyrics.

Stephen King too.

xx
AM

Jade said...

In the thriller writing genre, my biggest influences are my Big Three favourite writers:

Jeffery Deaver
Lee Child
Harlan Coben

Deaver taught me about writing plot twists, Lee Child taught me about writing action, and Harlan Coben taught me how to make thriller writing fun, humorous and occasionally even poetic.

With such good teachers, if my writing isn't good it's definitely the pupil's fault!

Random Girl said...

Almost every teacher I've ever had. The teachers in grade school that passionately read aloud to the class every day, and all of my English/Lit teachers all the way through until I graduated college. When people are that passionate about something, it's hard not to catch it.

sheri said...

i would have to say Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and my 8th grade english teacher who I can picture perfectly in my mind but can not remember his name. God getting older sucks!

Barrett said...

(1) Ernest Hemingway
(2) Thelma Griffin (freshman english)
(3) my wife
(4) my mother

J.P. Kurzitza said...

A classmate throughout elementary who was my chief rival in our story writing assignments. He always got the laughs that I craved.

My father who I felt didn't think that I would amount to much as an adult. Or, at least he tried to hold me back in his own passive-aggressive way.

Now, most definitely, my Language Arts teaching wife who's an avid YA and kid-lit reader. If I can get her hooked, then I'll be thrilled!

Great blog Nathan. Thanks. :)

Elyssa Papa said...

I'll have to go with the authors that I remembered reading as a young girl: Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, Anna Sewell, E.B. White, and Christopher Pike.

Right now, my CPs inspire me with their writing.

lauren said...

When my sister and I were wee ones (and even not so wee ones), we spent hours of each day creating characters who lived in the fictional town we'd created. We wallpapered the entire basement with character posters, town maps, advertisements for town businesses, and "subdivisions" we'd created from our painstaking deconstruction of real estate guides. It was our life. It was entirely unsocially acceptable, judging from the number of our friends who visited The Basement and then never came back.

One evening, when I was about 14, my mother called me into the living room to watch a documentary with her about William Faulkner.

Well.

Faulkner made maps, too. And I bet if Faulkner had had a basement and a bunch of Macy's ads and Seventeen magazines, he would have papered the walls with character posters, too.

Learning about Faulkner legitimized what my sister and I had been doing all those years (lost friends aside). I already loved to write at that time, but there was a part of me that thought to be a Real Writer I would have to leave all the old characters behind and start over with more "serious" characters that I could only create as an adult.

I started reading Faulkner. I was 14; I didn't get much of it. I read him again. And again. I studied with several Faulkner scholars in college. All in all, I spent about ten years closely reading and rereading and studying his work. My style is nothing like his, but his influence on my confidence and creativity is unmeasurable.

Jenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

Oh goodness. I'll have to say first it would be my fourth grade teacher, who made us write (and then get printed) our own short stories. I believe mine was a Nancy Drew-esque mystery starring a girl named Jessica James.

Secondly, my friends are to blame. Do you know how many books we wrote in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades? There were at least five notebooks with five different and crazy stories floating around between us at any given day.

Lastly (but not least!!), it would be my dad. He pushed me into reading fantasy at a young age and taught me to imagine, explore, and most importantly, question. He's always willing to read what I've written and give me feedback (good or bad) and generally encourages me.

Other Lisa said...

Hmmm...I have wanted to write novels since before I could spell five words, so it's hard to say. But Ursula LeGuin and Joan Didion come to mind. Ursuala LeGuin for the combination of craft and idea, Joan Didion for the incredible precision of her language.

JohnO said...

My art history professor, of all people. He was this wildly popular Englishman teaching in California, and I wrote a paper for him (really, a fairly ludicrous short story) about a guy buying a Heironymous Bosch painting for his girlfriend, and picking it out of a batch of velvet Elvises. He read it, out loud and in its entirety, to all 400 people in class.

And then, because he was so popular, he did it for all 400 people in the evening session of the class.

That pretty much sealed it for me. Bless that man.

Anonymous said...

Julia Cameron, and specifically her book, Letters to a Young Artist. I think about this quote daily, "I am willing to make bad art."

Anonymous said...

I must be some kind of freak because no one influenced me to become a writer. I had no interest at all in being writer until the age of 40. Up until then, I was content to be a reader. It was about then that I noticed I was having a harder time finding fiction I enjoyed. I complained a lot and finally one of my kids told me write what I wanted to read. So, I guess that means she influenced me--because I started to write.

Years have passed. Still unpublished in fiction. But having a great time. My local writer's club is amazing, encouraging, and generous.

Just_Me said...

My parents.

J.R.R. Tolkein

Lauren Wilhoite-Willis my high school English teacher for 3 years.

AnnieBlogs said...

Catherine Marshall.

Anonymous said...

john steinbeck
tupac shakur
malcolm x
joyce carol oates

Suzan Harden said...

L. Frank Baum _ Finding out my favorite movie was based on a book thrilled me to no end, and I insisted on getting the unabridged edition for my seventh birthday.

My best friend, Becky, who was buying me how-to-get-published looong before any of my stories were remotely ready.

My husband, who insists that I follow my passion and doesn't fake his laughter at my jokes.

MyVerbocity said...

Not to sound like an after-school special... but...

My ninth grade teacher flunked every paper I wrote my first two semesters in high school. By the third semester, my papers were in the high seventies.

It was the most frustrating experience ever to see those little squiggly lines for "awkward sentence" or points off for structural errors every time I got a paper back. But I slowly learned to write a beautiful thesis.

And in the end, he gave me an "A."

Natalie said...

A high school teacher who essentially told me I was crap. She said I had the raw talent, but I was being lazy by not learning how to use it best. I got serious after that.

Kristi said...

"...Everybody's searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to.
I never found anyone who fulfilled my need.
A lonely place to be..."

Enough Whitney Houston.

Influences? The 1000's (maybe hundreds...I lost count) of books I've read in my life. The people I've interacted with, emotions I've felt and witnessed in others.

No one's ever encouraged me to write. I'm encouraged to stick to my day job (it comes with a paycheck), and do a thousand other things that don't make me happy. So I write.

I've never been big on "mentors". Maybe I'm too cynical. Too many people in that type of role that have totally screwed me over and cut me down.

"...so I learned to depend on me."

Stacie Lynch said...

My biggest influence was probably my parents calling me names and tamping on my self-esteem. Ahh, nothing builds a good writer like a little verbal abuse!

Dee Carney said...

Like everyone else, I'm an avid reader and could cite any number of authors as influences. But if I had to pick the one DIRECT influence, hands down, it was my 10th grade English teacher, Mrs. Katsikas. She *loved* my stories. Every time between then and now that I thought about writing a story, her encouragement always rang in my memory. Mrs. Katsikas, it took me almost 20 years to start writing again, but I did it. Thank you.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Even though I started writing long before I read his work...Kurt Vonnegut. When I read SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, it blew my mind and showed me just how much could be done with books.

Azzy said...

I can't think of a time when I didn't tell stories. That evolved into being a writer in middle school but I didn't really recieve encouragement until high school. My tenth grade and eleventh grade English teachers both inspired me so much.

These days my closest friends influence me the most - they're always asking me about my stories and giving me feedback on them.

Writers that influenced me - McCaffery, Gabaldon, Austen, Tolkien. Each people who started writing in order to tell stories for their own enjoyment.

Jake Seliger said...

Picking just one is impossible, so I'll name the top three: Bellow, Tolkien, and Robertson Davies. And unlikely trio, perhaps, but thee you have it. Not coincidentally, they're also mentioned frequently on The Story's Story.

Kelly Pollard said...

Jack Kerouac--more so, his 'other' books like Desolation Angels and Dharma Bums. I wrapped myself in his writer-bum lifestyle while I read his books in high school...

Dorothy Parker for her snark...

My freshman english teacher Mrs. Gray.

And VC Andrews...something about the taboo of the stories, and the insane amount of series and books cranked out of that name (though I now know there are more writers behind the byline)

Whirlochre said...

The pipe-smoking old curmudgeon who said beware pseudonepotism.

JeanieW said...

Waaaaaaay back when I was in the sixth grade, I read CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and it was like a switch flipped in my brain. I'd read books I liked before then, but THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE was the first to make me wish I'd written it myself.

Anonymous said...

Strange, because you represent his literary estate (not sure if that's the right term) but the book Justine by Lawrence Durrell has most influenced my approach to writing. That book cracked my head wide open.

Anonymous said...

My 12th grade Humanities teacher Mrs. Jordan, who said, "You should be a writer." She didn't know that's what I wanted to do.

Father Mike who encouraged me not to be afraid of my dreams, specifically writing.

John Steinbeck
Charles Dickens
Armstrong Sperry (read "Call It Courage" - it's YA - or is it?)

BTW, Nathan, you rock! Great question. Great blog. :)

Best,
Fotini

Anonymous said...

I have been fortunate enough to have a six times published author take me under her wing to help guide me through the process of getting published. She reads and critiques my work, gives generously of her time and advice, and is just a wonderful woman to work with. I will not name her, since I'm sure she doesn't want to be bombarded with pre-published authors seeking help, but I know how very lucky I am. The last person she mentored sold her first book for $40,000.

Lisa Iriarte

ken said...

Tolkien saved my life. (Not literally, of course. But after my dad died it felt like it.) George Lucas made me want to live again. (Seriously, I saw STAR WARS on opening day and have never been the same.) Douglas Adams made me love living. All three men made me yearn to have even a fraction of that kind of impact upon others.

Arovell said...

Ha ha. My first grade teacher sent me to the Principal's office... so I could show him this little fishie-shaped book I made that, you know, reeked and dripped with orange marker. I was flattered, though, and writing became my niche. ^.^

Mya said...

Don't laugh but I was inspired at a young age by E.B. White and her book Charlotte's Web. I thought it was brilliant the way she made me identify with the pig and the spider as if they were human. I became a closet writer at about the age of ten. I won't tell you how long ago that was. I have recently come out of the closet as a writer. It's amazing what came out after years of confinement.
I have to add that I inspired myself as well. I am the type of person who looks at people and their situations and then visualizes what their life is really like or what has brought them to this point. I finally started writing about my thoughts. That is what started my first novel.

Anonymous said...

My family. Being constantly told to shut-up and being ridiculed when I dared to speak drove me into my imagination. Writing saved my life.

Tish Cohen said...

Maurice Sendak, Lucy Maud Montgomery, then Ayn Rand, Simone de Beauvoir, and Edith Wharton. A weird mix, maybe but all of them really just kicked me with a love for language. But what made me actually start the first page of my first book was a very depressing moment when I was weeping and tallying up all the wrong directions I'd headed in my life and thought, "Maybe this is a book."

Okay, according to editors, it wasn't. But the one after the one after that was.

wonderer said...

My father, who told me bedtime stories of his own devising; my mother, who facilitated my book addiction from a young age; and my sister, who co-authored the elaborate games with dolls that eventually gave way to written words.

Gene Roddenberry, for providing a universe big enough for me to play in while learning my craft.

My partner, who also writes and with whom I've shared countless hours of discussion about writing. We've both learned a lot.

Chris Baty of NaNoWriMo (say what you will about it, it's a fantastic way to get a wannabe writer to Apply Butt to Chair) and the wonderfully supportive community of fellow newbie writers I met through that site.

In recent years, I've taken inspiration from Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE (my first exposure to urban fantasy, to which I had the reaction "You can do that?!") and Guy Gavriel Kay's brand of quasi-historical fantasy. I wouldn't call them big influences, but they definitely widened my conception of fantasy, and I'm exploring those new horizons now.

Welshcake said...

Timothy Lea, who wrote the seminal ‘Confessions’ series.

My personal favourite is ‘Confessions of a Literary Agent’.

Anonymous said...

Jacques Cousteau

THE SILENT WORLD

davec said...

At a very young age I began reading Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike because they both came to speak at a literary festival near where I lived. I had no idea who they were, I was merely a sophomore in high school. But I started reading them, probably not picking up very much in those days but there was some pretty explicit stuff in there for a relatively naive high-schooler! Anyway, as I grew older and majored in English, etc. I gained a deeper appreciationg for these and many other writers, especially Ernest Hemingway and some American poets.

From people I know, I think I am encouraged by the inspiration I get from knowing good people. I don't particularly look for my family's or my friends' validation; rather, I think of them as inspiring figures who by their very existence make me want to write.

tanaudel said...

CS Lewis, who showed that books don't have to end.

Lloyd Alexander, who showed me happy endings are sometimes the saddest.

Shaun Tan, whose stories are like his pictures (jewel-bright and strange) and who said the best writing advice anyone ever gave him was "Finish".

Anonymous said...

Ummm, Mya?

Elwyn Brooks White was a man.

Kate said...

Kate DiCamillo, because when I read Because of Winn-Dixie I finally understood voice, and I thought, "I want to do this too!"

Lupina said...

My second grade friend, Joanne Beeson. After we moved to another town that year I assuaged my loneliness by writing letters to my former classmates. She wrote that she liked my letters because my stories made her laugh. Somehow it stuck in my head that I had an ability to amuse people through writing, and although later reinforcement from teachers, editors, etc. was also crucial, I will always owe Joanne for planting that seed.

Katharine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia convinced me that her audience was also the right one for me.

Wendy Melchior said...

Flannery O'Connor, Amy Hempel, e.e. cummings, Kurt Vonnegut

Carley said...

Author: I'd have to say Jane Austen...because on those dark & frustrtating days, when the rose colored glasses fall off, I always think of her, writing the brilliant stuff she did at the age she did, with the education & life experience she had, and then I say, hey if she could do this, so can I.
People: My daugher, who is always reading over my shoulder as I type, hungry for more, in her sweetly biased way. Best cheerleader ever, albeit not the most objective!

Maureen said...

My high school English teacher when I was a freshman. He encouraged me to keep writing and to study journalism. I worked for a few years as a reporter and a columnist. While I enjoy writing I soon came to see that I didn't have the agreesive personality required to be successful as a reporter. That was when I turned to fiction.

A great many published writers have influenced me from John Steinbeck to Marcia Muller.

AstonWest said...

My mother, who as an English teacher, beat into me the importance of proper spelling and grammar...

It's served me quite well as an engineer. Most of the engineers I come across can't spell or use proper grammar to save themselves.

:-)

Anonymous said...

One of my New School University writing professors who liked my wild style. Melanie Rae Thon. Margaret Atwood.

And the editor who published a chapter of my memoir, paid me, and nominated me for a Pushcart.

all the people who've read my work and say they want more.

Sue said...

the theater (and the wonderful people in it) and my own burning desire to create something special that could be passed from generation to generation (I hope)

Marion said...

Heinlein, Issac Assimov, Andre Norton, Jules Verne, and many others for Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. for murder mystery/suspense.
A whole host of Romance writers.

My main inspiration of course is an ancestor of mine who was my great grandmother's cousin...James Fennimore Cooper. Nothing like someone famous to motivate you to try your hand at writing. I grew up as a child with that reminder and have tried my hand at all types of writing. My first start was with Poetry, then three act murder mystery plays, then Sci-fi and Fantasy, then Romance, then commercial fiction and on and on. With a University education I also learned how to write non-fiction and to lecture. Writing is such a huge field of opportunity to express whatever strikes you as a good story. Language and how it is used in all genres is a subject of endless interest to me. I'm alos a Edgar Allen Poe fan as well. Nothing like a good horror or creepy story with things that go bump in the night!

Richard Mabry said...

Two people: Robert B. Parker, the prolific novelist and former English professor whose work has taught me so much, and James Scott Bell, a successful writer of fiction who has mentored me by example and direct encouragement.

Kitty Bucholtz said...

Specifically, Susan Day, 6th grade teacher. I really need to find her and tell her how far I've come. I was unhappy and bored and she found out I wrote stories in my notebooks. She told me she'd give me extra credit for each one I turned in, and suddenly I was rushing through the boring "regular" school work to get to my story writing! In a backwards way, my mom was the other encourager. She had to keep her writing a secret from her dad and her husband because they thought it was stupid, but she never stopped writing. Mom encouraged us kids to tap into our own creativity and tried to help us not be afraid to let it out. Great women, both of them! :)

Gail Goetz said...

My son...he gave me a computer and said, "Okay, Mom. Write your book." I have no idea why he said that, but since that day I have written eight novels, none published, but I have had a wonderful time creating all those stories and the characters who inhabit them.

A Paperback Writer said...

My writing style has been most influenced by Mark Twain, Erma Bombeck, and Salt Lake Tribune newspaper columnest Robert Kirby.
My desire to write was probably most spurred-on by a college student who came to practice teach for just a few days at our school when I was in 6th grade. I don't even remember her name, but I recall that she gave us two lists of vocabulary words and told us to choose one list and use the words in a story. She said she'd read the winners from each list aloud. I wrote a vampire story. She read it aloud -- and the other kids laughed in all the right places! Wow! I was a hero for the day! And I wanted to write more stories where people would laugh in all the right places.

Daniela Soave said...

How long have you got? As a child in Scotland, Robert Louis Stevenson, Enid Blighton,and Ruby Ferguson (Jill Has Two Ponies etc - an author who talked to you informally; something totally new). As a teenager, poet John Donne, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins.H E Bates. Hunter S Thompson. As a parent Alan Ahlberg, Clive King and Roald Dahl. More recently Jonathan Coe, Kate Atkinson, Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, Joan Didion, Gayle Brandeis, Alice Sebold, Elinor Lipman, Patrick Gale, David Mitchell. But also, many music journalists, contemporaries of mine, and musicians. Conor Oberst. Noel Gallagher. Neil Young. Neil Halstead. James Yorkston. The guys from MGMT, Death Cab for Cutie, Hot Chip. Ed Harcourt. Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley.

All of these things, including the weather, and the countryside, and the insanity that is Glasgow, and my former life in London. Everything influences me, more than I can list, and everything in the future will leave its mark. But most of all, the thing that influences me is the feeling of being apart, of experiencing everything through a glass partition.

How pretentious is that? Sorry.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

The first influence was Jacqueline Carey's first Kushiel book. It's the first book I ever read and actually said, wow, I wish I wrote that.

Biggest influences: Anaïs Nin, DH Lawrence

Ely--Kisses to you! mwah! You should be taking a big cut of that pie!

Anonymous said...

Some great secondary school English teachers and a childhood spent reading magical tales by the likes of Enid Blyton, thanks to a book loving mother.

Bethanne said...

Nora Roberts.
I know! it's become cliche... I can't help it. I read her books and want to be just like her when I grow up.

I love Romance Divas and Charlotte Dillon's Romance Writer Community. I couldn't have better support.

A Paperback Writer said...

And by the way,
it is really heart-warming to see how many of you credit teachers for inspiring you.

Anonymous said...

Azzy,

I totally agree with Gabaldon.
I'd also add K. G.'s Wind in the Willows,
Jerome's Three Men in a Boat,
and PG Wodehouse...

JES said...

Aw, jeez -- what a question. And like many of your questions, I see it's provoked an avalanche.

Great to see so many teachers mentioned (and often named) as personal influencers. I'm guessing it would be a teacher in my case, too, and probably I'd have to say the first was 6th grade, Miss Pearson. Later teachers, too, sort of handed me along to where I am now. (Mr. Krause, Mrs. Kaness, Mr. Harkins, Mr. Lombardi, Dr. Mitchell...)

Writers: I just went through an exercise of building a "pantheon" of writerly influences as a link category on my blog. The surnames in that list are Watts, Dillard, Schneier, Ackerman, DeLillo, White, Thurber, Evanovich, Shepherd, McPhee, Heller, Vonnegut, Kael, Reynolds, Pirsig, and Pynchon. And it was hard to limit it to just them. Kind of a mish-mash, eh wot? :)

Adam Heine said...

Most influential author: Orson Scott Card. I've read nearly everything he's written, including Characters & Viewpoint and How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Most influential person: Professor Baron, my close friend who convinced me to take his poetry class. For the first time in 25 years I understood poetry, I figured out what imagery was, and I learned that anything can be improved with revision.

Margay said...

The most influential person in my life was my seventh grade English teacher, Miss Black. She was the person who put a name to my passion: writing. At the end of the school year, she gave me two pieces of advice: Have a great summer and Keep Writing.

I just want to say: Thank you, Miss Black. I did both.

Jeff said...

Tennessee Williams

Julie said...

My 6th grade reading teacher who inadvertently stuck the idea in my head that I was going to be a writer some day.

And Kelley Armstrong, Author, who's website and online writing group have been invaluable tools in my ongoing quest towards being a good writer and publication.

lotusloquax said...

My mother probably more than anyone. She was always reading something and instilled that love of reading in me.

A college professor in my creative writing class read out my first assignment as a great example of capturing a scene. The other students were spellbound by it, and I was hooked on writing ever since. It's a heady thing to capture an audience's attention.

Some of the authors that have influenced me most are Chaim Potok, Leon Uris, Louis L'Amour, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Sarah Dessen, Orson Scott Card, Jane Austen, and Karen Hesse. A nice eclectic mix, eh?

I really enjoyed King's "On Writing."

Some authors like Steinbeck and Dostoyevsky stop my writing cold and leave me chanting in my head, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy." Ah well. C'est la vie!

Timothy Fish said...

Nolan Porterfield, the author of Jimmie Rodgers The Life and Times of America's Blue Yodeler. I knew him as an English professor at Southeast Missouri State University. He brought a copy of his book to class and told us that he was getting just about enough from royalities to pay for a nice dinner every once in a while. I thought at was cool. The publishing industry is always looking for books that will sell many copies and yet here was a guy who was content to get a royalty check every once in a while for a book without a huge readership.

jbrian said...

Tolkien first.
I remember "The Hobbit" as the first book I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed. And it wasn't even a school assignment. After that I devoured "The Lord of the Rings." Many years later, I'm still a huge fan.

Hemingway second.
For his perspective of the gritty side of life. It was because of Hemingway I was a Journalism major and not an English major.

Heinlen third.
For showing me the possibilities of thinking outside the box.

Anne Granberry fourth.
My high school senior honors english teacher. Before she died (way too early in her life) she taught me a pure love for literature in all its many genres.

Anonymous said...

Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor - the original Southern Goth girls.

Rena said...

A little white mountain goat ...

And yes, I am serious. Inspiration comes in many forms.

RED STICK WRITER said...

Though blessed with a number of excellent teachers in high school and college, Pat Avery (later McCoy) taught me sophomore and junior English at Broadmoor High School in Baton Rouge and made literature alive and fun for me for the first time. I suppose everyone has one teacher cool enough to hold class under the trees on nice days, and she was mine. Dorothy Tooke taught me both senior English and journalism the next year. I learned more about writing from her than any other person I have ever known, most importantly how to make the written word interesting. There is no doubt that feisty little lady would spank my wordy self for straying from the journalistic economy she stressed if she was still with us today.

Though not personal acquaintances like my mentors, three others put their stamp on me by using the Deep South as the canvas for the stories their words paint. They are Greg Iles, John Grisham, and Pat Conroy. Finally, no writer’s domain is complete without a copy of On Writing by Stephen King.

rookie sam said...

My first comment! This blog is great, I'll try to get more involved and leave comments when I can't stand doing any more revisions.

As far as authors go, I grew up loving Jack London and read every Hardy Boys book ever written (might go back and read a few again just for fun). I'm a total sucker for adventure, and me and my brother ran around the neighborhood pretending to do it all. As I got older I found that my taste for adventure matured, loving Lord of the Flies in middle school and Heart of Darkness in high school.

My AP English teacher and my mother influenced me to start writing by challenging me; that's usually when I do things best. The whole "you're wasting talent, you slacker!" arguement worked wonders on me. One of these days soon maybe I'll start sending queries out; my first novel is done, just applying some polish, as Nathan says.

Marilyn Peake said...

What a fantastic question! I've loved reading and writing since I was a young child, but really fell in love with it when I was in high school - both through an English Literature course that included the poetry of Blake, Keats, Byron and Shelley, and through a wonderful Creative Writing course. I started writing poetry then, had some published in a local newspaper, and was offered my own column in three local newspapers. I started college as an English Literature major, later switched to Psychology and went on to get my Masters in Clinical Psychology, but continued to love writing.

There have been many writers whose work I've loved, beginning with Dr. Seuss, the authors of the Nancy Drew series, moving on later to the English Romantic poets, John Steinbeck, T.S. Eliot, Albert Camus, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Hermann Hesse, Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Mark Z. Danielewski (love House of Leaves!), Paulo Coelho, Margaret Atwood, Rohinton Mistry, Cormac McCarthy, so many others! I love well-written books, not only for great stories but for the beauty of well-crafted language.

Writing novels and short stories always feels to me like stepping into brand new realms, looking around and transcribing scenes into words. Winning awards for my writing, hearing from readers and reviewers that they like my works are additional thrills. My goal now is to improve with each and every piece I write, to become the best writer I can possibly be.

Anonymous said...

Garrison Keillor - now there's a man who knows how to tell a story; both verbally and written.

Kellie said...

My Mom, she is a librarian and can read at the speed of light. She gives me a book and I read it. 100% accurate on my taste. She has yet to give me a book that makes me say... meh.

My little sister Becca helped me write a 74,000 word book by simply texting me the word "more" or "nom nom nom" everytime I would send her finished chapters.

Jinx said...

It all started with my grandfather, who told the most wonderful stories about growing up, working in the coalmines, and courting my grandmother. My over-active imagination. I wrote my first book when I was 8-years-old, after my grandmother gave me a typewriter and taught me how to type. When I reached high school, it was Poe and Stephen King who held me in captivity with their stories. My mother, who is an avid reader, and my biggest fan (but not much help in the editing department because she gets too involved). My husband, who constantly keeps me going when I start to lose momentum or faith in my work, and who doesn’t hold it against me when I sit and write for hours and ignore the rest of the world while I create my own worlds. My writer friends, who encourage, edit, and demand the next chapter. My high school senior English teacher, Mrs. Christensen, who told me one day to keep writing, and who gave me a handmade vest (which I still have) because she thought I would like it. Various college professors, but most recently my criticism professor, and oh… the voices in my head.

manaicscribbler said...

Author-wise, it's the Romantic poets (especially Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth), plus fantasy authros like Tolkien and actually the Grimms Brothers.
As for personal influence? Probably my friends...They support me when I need it, and put up with my sometimes crazy rambling.
Yeah. That's me.
ManiacScribbler =^..^=

kdjameson said...

First, my personality influenced me as a writer. Shy as a kid, unable to make friends, being a loner. My head being a preferable, more controllable place to be than my real surroundings. Being able to have such tiny handwriting that I could fit 30 lines on a 2 x 3 notepad and therefore could write stories undetected in most of my high school classes.

I had 2 self help books published in 4 years and although I'm proud of them, writing them was more like a job and I'd stopped writing fiction. Until I discovered Nanowrimo. It changed me as a writer forever. It stopped the shaming critical voice that told me what I was writing should never be shown to anyone, that I should feel embarrassed or ashamed of the kinds of things I wrote about. I fell in love with writing like never before.

I'm drawn to permission giving voices and outsiders. Re books on writing: Anne Lamott and Chris Batty for their humor, not taking themselves too seriously.

As a child, "National Velvet" showed me a horse story could be more than a kid's book,could be gritty and real. As an adult Mary Gaitskill's "Bad Behavior" proved that the frightening stuff can and should get said. "Wuthering Heights" showed me deeply flawed people were fascinating and their portrayal shouldn't be sugar coated.

And now, of course, my influences are people I've never met, never laid eyes on, like the people on this blog. And our very good host. Just wish I could get a decent glass of wine in here;-)

Lynne said...

Whoa! Asked a loaded question!

My parents got us hooked. We had books everywhere, starting with monthly installments of Dr. Seuss, bedtime stories from Winnie the Pooh [can you say hell, hell, hell, heffalump!] without laughing till you cry?

It was such a naughty word, and my Dad laughed as hard as we did. Two encylopedias, which we read for fun. Heck. We read cereal boxes!

Mum had oceans of books delivered each month. National Geographic, Scientific American and magazines everywhere. We were reading *junkies* & got a weekly fix at the library, accompanied by sugar-loaded pastries. 5th grade teacher [enabler] offered a prize if we read a book and handed in a report. I won. The prize? A new book! Yay! The problem is, if you read a lot, you start to write and people notice. School teachers, Sunday school teachers, and Lawd help us, it moves right along to 'college and beyond!' [Think Buzz Light year.]

Problem? No one noticed I was rotten at arithmetic. [Makes me sick!] Singing: "I can't Math, don't ask me!"

Great thing is I've never had to triangulate the anything of an anything but made reasonable money as a journalist.

Fiction lures a writing junkie down a dangerous road. It's hard not to follow. Scrap that. Impossible! Gotta get the next 'fix.' Rehab is for quitters.

kai said...

Great minds...

I just blogged about this very subject:

http://cleanwriter.livejournal.com/

Kai

Anonymous said...

Gerald Durrell, whom you posthumously represent if your list of client books is truthful.

But it is him, hands down. What I love is that he didn't even want to write; he did it to finance his zoos. His brother Lawrence (whom you also apparently posthumously represent, to my continued puzzlement) was quite jealous of this.

Gerald Durrell was one of the most gorgeous authors I ever read. I was given his Corfu books when I was a kid of similar age living in Greece also as an ex-pat. I've read everything of his since. Droll, descriptive without being annoying, and clever.

Anonymous said...

My family did nothing to encourage writing. In fact they did the opposite. And yet my brother and I wrote.

He became published and let the family find out when his name appeared in a magazine my Dad subscribed to. (Sweet.)

Honestly, the first thing that came to mind, for me, was Kahlil Gibran, at age fifteen.

Then later, my husband influenced me. I finally decided to come out of the closet with writing to him. He is very well read and he encouraged me and I found out I affected people with my writing. Wow.esoejwtu

Anonymous said...

That would be Daffy Duck, my friend.

Anonymous said...

First, my father, who taught me to love reading and how to write.

Stephenie Meyer. I haven't read a word she has written, but her success inspires me. In many ways she reminds me of myself: 30-something mother, three children, little prior writing experience. If she can do it, why can't I?

Amber said...

When I was younger, Gabaldon, King and Poe.

Now, Rowling and my children. I've always written or made up stories for them. Now, I want to read to them from my own books ;)

I've always written, here and there, but I did NaNo last year and actually got down to the butt in chair every (almost) day since then.

Love NaNo.

Sophie said...

Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' was a big revelation to me because of the deceptive simplicity of the prose.

Other inspirations have been people writing/talking about their work.

My husband suggested I start writing again. It seems to be a common theme. Do you think its about wives finding something to do that keeps them happy at home and near the kitchen sink?

What's NaNo?

Ben Jamin S. said...

I enjoyed your post about exclusives and literary agents very much. It was very enlightening like the majority of your blogs!! I was wondering Nathan, because your writing is so genuine and intriguing, have you written anything yourself, story-wise that is? (If that is a word!) I do have a novella that I have completed and I realize that the sure-footed marketplace for novellas ended ages ago, but I must admit in today’s fast paced society that novella compilations are what I am interested in reading and as an aspiring author, writing! So, question, as an agent are you interested in authors who enjoy writing the shorter storylines? I am also surprised and saddened that no one knows or acknowledges who Methuselah is/was!!! Shall I also comment that I shall wait as long as Mahalalel lived to see the novella rise again!!! Oh yeah, life and my father influenced me the most, other than my preacher’s kid background of how I view and write about everything in the world.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Alfred Bester. I read _The Demolished Man_, and fell for a trick he played on his readers. I stopped being a passive, trusting reader after that, and it made me a much, much better writer. I also appreciated the tremendous power a writer can have.

Along a similar line, a favorite quote from William Burroughs: "If I really knew how to write, I would write something, and someone would read it, and it would kill them."

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

I enjoyed reading everyone's posts on this topic.

But I'm too tired to delve into it very deeply - I will mention the 6th grade history teacher who would bring in Agatha Christie books for me to read - he'd make a big deal out of presenting them to me, one at a time, for me to keep.

And a creative writing 101 teacher as an undergrad - severe, strict, did not mince words when it came to what she thought of your writing. So her encouraging words (hey, whole paragraphs of encouragement!) at the end of class have kept me going, still keep me going.

Literary influences: Too numerous to mention. I liked "The Velvet Room" as a kid...etc etc etc and so on to infinity.

James K said...

I was fortunate to attend an extremely small high school (though I definitely didn't think so at the time).

I had a literature teacher who decided to write a fantasy series the year after my graduation, and he invited me and a couple other former students to participate in the planning process.

Being involved in the process from beginning to end was really inspiring for me. I wrote my first (real) short story soon after and haven't been able to stop since.

Maris Bosquet said...

Byron, Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, two irascible grad school profs, and a wonderful circle of fledgling and professional romance writers(though I don't write romance).

On the other hand,there are many contemp writers who have indirectly taught me how NOT to write...

Debby said...

Hunter S Thompson

stwrites said...

I would have to say my mother. Although we had a very iffy relationship, she influenced me as to my writing. She won a couple of contests and, I think, could have been published, but she didn't believe in herself and would not submit. Every time I think of giving up,I think of her and keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama. He's dreamy and full of positivityness.

Juliette Dominguez said...

Too many to list, but--like others here, I see--Stephen King's On Writing, and Joseph Campbell's Power of Myth. Both are shaping my current writing.

freddie said...

My Dad. He gave up any hope of a writing career to become a businessman and raise a family. But I think he always lamented leaving his writing behind. (Yet I couldn't ask for a better champion for my own writing.) Whenever I get stuck I think of him and keep writing.

My writing heroes are Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. Their advice and encouragement to all burgeoning writers is stellar. Reading them is always an inspiration for me.

Jude Hardin said...

Hemingway, Harper Lee, Flannery O'Conner, Stephen King, Raymond Chandler...

Several teachers encouraged me along the way, and my grandmother read some fairly sophisticated prose to me starting at a very young age.

Mighty Mom said...

Believe it or not: I write because I had kids. Before having my girls, I lead a busy professional life. That said, my down time was mine. No one demanded anything of me, least of all myself.

The almost ceaseless demands of motherhood unearthed in me a desperate desire to hear my own voice, alone, without interruption. I began to write when they slept. Now I can't seem to stop.

A high school English teacher once warned me that if I stopped writing it would be extremely hard to get back to it. (I was dropping her course to take advanced physics-- a HUGE mistake.) She was right. It took a cataclysmic event like motherhood to get me back in the chair. But, damn it, it worked.

Bob said...

Kathleen Adams: I told a secret, she was kind.

Cat said...

My current favorite is Tanith Lee, closely followed by Scott Westerfeld. Early icons were Gary Paulsen and Avi. Childhood loves were JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Erik said...

Hesse, Marquez, and Vonnegut.

After those two I have to go with a number of columnists where I grew up; John Keasler, Leonard Pitts, and Carl Hiaasen.

RED STICK WRITER said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RED STICK WRITER said...

One of you guys from the anonymous clan mentioned Garrison Keillor having the golden touch with a story. My wholehearted endorsement of that comment won't even by you a cup of coffee, but I offer it anyway.

In my earlier comment, I mentioned Stephen King's On Writing as an invaluable possession for any and every writer. I should go on to say that, even though his subject matter is often not my cup of tea, I believe Mr. King is perhaps the best storyteller of our time. No further commentary is possible for me in this window, as I have shot my legal limit of caffeine beverages here.

j richards said...

The first person to come to mind when reading this question was Linda Jenkins, 12th grade Creative Writing teacher who was the first teacher to make writing fun for me. After her there are countless others but she put me on the path. As for authors, I write because of people like Maugham and Hugo, Roth and Holleran. They inspire me to write beyond the best-seller's list.

E. Anderson said...

Let’s see. As always, my family. Mrs. Flickinger and Mrs. Downes, two of my high school English teachers. Cruce Stark, my creative writing professor in college. My good friends Nick for always listening to my ideas, Jenn for critiquing and sharing her writing with me, and my sister for finding little grammar mistakes.

As for authors, the list is huge! Aside from classics, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman for Dragons of Autumn Twilight when I was in middle school and fueling my love for fantasy. Most recently, Jacqueline Carey and her Kushiel’s series has been an amazing inspiration.

Ryan Field said...

Khalil Gibran

Madison said...

What influnced me was the fact that a lot of kids don't like to read. I always wanted to make reading fun for those who didn't like it (and even more fun for those like me who do!) so, 11 years ago, at the tender age of 6, I picked up my pencil and started writing. I can't stop I just love it so much!

cttiger said...

My college journalism professor who actually thought I had talent....deeply hidden talent, but talent none the less.

Anonymous said...

J.K. Rowling inspired me. Yes, lame, I know, but she's just so ordinary, and she simply had a good idea for a story and went for it. The rest, as they say, is history.
Of course, I wouldn't expect to achieve even a fraction of her success with my own writing - I know my limitations - but if it ever happens I hope I get the chance to tell her, "Thank you, if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here now."

RED STICK WRITER said...

It just occurred to me that in an earlier post I mentioned my early mentors and some authors whose books I’ve read. On an everyday basis, though, it would be a flagrant oversight to fail to mention Nathan and you guys, Nathan’s army, so to speak. Reading, absorbing, and commenting here and at the all of the participants’ pages I visit from time to time could definitely result in a citation for WUI. I can’t imagine there is a fine or penalty for that. Merci beaucoup.

Joseph L. Selby said...

I started writing stories in 1st grade, but it was my 6th/7th grade religion teacher, Brother Stephen Capelle who really got me going. He wrote his own book and I wanted to write one too.

Tad Williams is the author that sunk his teeth so deep into me that I knew I had to write fantasy.

AR said...

Anon 10:45

I would say you have both good taste and good sense in reading. Keep it up.

I'm sorry about your friends. What nonsense.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Good point, Red Stick Writer.

Tom Burchfield said...

Sheesh . . . well, I guess it all started with A.A. Milne and Winnie-the-Pooh; then it was Bram's Stoker's "Dracula" . . . and here I am, forty years later with "Count Winnie, or: The World of the Vam-bear!"

Salman said...

Wow, I'm pretty much surprised and impressed by all these people who were inspired by family and school teachers. In my case family was all up about being in a "steady profession" and pushing Law on to me. And I went to a poncy private school so all my teachers were heavily career orientated. In fact the only people who ever supported my writings were my friends and people who had read my works online and demanded I write more.

My inspiration has always been the people who I read when I was younger. Which was probably Michael Chrichton and his fantastic science fiction when I was an ickle tyke at the age of 8 or so. And then fantastic authors like Virginia Woolf who just BREAK MY MIND with their captivating and unique (yet flawless) writing styles.

abc said...

Prince. Or maybe I just wish Prince.
Salinger (that bastard).
Jane Campion.
Wes Anderson. And that other Anderson (P.T.)

Yes, music and movies are inspiring, too. And pervy old men who for some reason write beautiful things but lead hateful lives. oh the humanity. Life makes me want to nap. And watch BBC movies about English people living in other centuries.

Marilyn Brant said...

Jane Austen, above all others.

Then, many, many other talented authors...from Shakespeare to that guy who wrote Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs :).

Gwen said...

Young Adult author, Anna Myers.
Anna judged a conference contest that I had entered. I didn't know who she was, but one morning she invited me to join her for breakfast. Over coffee, she asked if I had entered any of the contests. So,I told her all about my wonderful children's book. Anna said she judged that contest and remembered manuscript. She could have stopped there, but she went on to tell me it didn't have any "sparkle." Of course, I was crushed, but I spent the next few years working on my writing and I've sold seven books. Somewhere along the line, I found sparkle (Anna's term for voice). Now I'm revising that old manuscript for an editor. If Anna hadn't explained the problem and encouraged me to learn how to fix it, I might still be wandering around conferences sparkle-less.

Anonymous said...

Rex Stout/Archie Goodwin, Margaret Mitchell, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Rudolph Flesch and my brother-in-law (who used to read my letters to my sister when they were stationed overseas, and told me "You ought to try writing; you turn a good phrase....")

Beth said...

Mary Stewart. Years and years ago I was reading one of her novels (again) when I was seized by the overwhelming to write my own books. And I wanted to write like her.

I eventually developed my own voice, but she was the catalyst that propelled me onto the path.

Anonymous said...

The good nuns in grade school and high school who taught me--not only grammar, punctuation, and how to diagram sentences--but also to love the written word.

Eben said...

Mike Daniels, the English Teacher who had me write my own ending to "A Farewell to Arms" and then turned around and entered my original short story ("California Sunrise") in my High School's short story writing contest. It won, and I became aware of how it touched people -- what a thrill. Thank you Mike! ...And my fab 4: Steinbeck (for a tapestry of description), Twain (for dialect), Hemingway (for storytelling) and Dickens (for his truly unique creativity of presentation.)

NotJana said...

As strange as it may sound - television. I must have been around 10 or so when I started to take my favourite characters from tv-shows and sent them on new adventures in my head. I wrote a couple of them down just to get them out of my head again...

Then came Stargate SG1 and I discovered fanfiction a few years ago. That's when I started to write fiction seriously. I used fanfiction to improve my skills (for whatever reason I can't write fiction in my mother tongue...) and then stumbled over NaNoWriMo and suddenly found myself writing original fiction as well.

I might still be in the learning stages, but writing has become a very important part of my life!

Hal Alpiar said...

Mike Slosberg. As an assistant executive at the world’s biggest, best-known Madison Avenue ad agency, using powder in my hair to look older (and now bootblack in what hair I have left to look younger!), I met Mike. He was a prominent 18 years-older VP/Creative Director who liked that I hustled, told the truth, was sincere, and motivated (with three infant mouths to feed) . . . all slim-pickin’ character traits in that business.

Mike took months of hours to teach me about high-impact words and the creative process. He gave me secret assignments as a moonlighting writer and helped me crank out award-winning advertising copy — from airline billboards, tire ads, and a still-famous hot dog jingle, to radio scripts and TV storyboards for bacon and eggs, brochures for washers and dryers, you name it!

Mike taught me the four most important words every writer needs to hear. “It’s not good enough!” I remember him saying this, then smiling over the tops of his reading glasses. His challenge always produced better work. He made me write a billboard first for every assignment (“seven words or less—with a beginning, middle, an end, and be persuasive!”) Many years later, I still start every book, article, ad, website, brochure, script, jingle, blog post, email, and personal letter, with a billboard. “Forced encapsulation” I call it.

When I moved on to another ad agency, I arranged to have a NYC parking meter delivered to Mike with a note attached: “Thanks for the time!” and told him I’d get him a floor stand for it, which I never remembered to do. Decades later, a copy of his one and only novel arrived one day in the mail inscribed “Where the hell’s my parking meter stand? All my best – Mike”

Thanks for the chance to comment, and the prompt to remember my greatest influence as a writer! And thanks, Mike Slosberg . . . wherever you are!www.halalpiar.com

Lara said...

Lois Lowry and Avi. Love 'em both. They were the first writers I ever became loyal to and to this day I will purchase anything with their name on it without even knowing what it is.

The Crystal Faerie said...

Two people have been my main influence as a writer. Stephen King, whose book "On Writing" helped me to realize that I don't need to copy anyone else's style for my work to be good. The second person is my ninth-grade Creative Writing teacher, Mr. Schlessinger, who told me I didn't have what it takes. Since his comment, I've striven to not simply write more, but to write more quality into what I do. I take more pride in what I put to paper because he said that I was incapable of doing so.

pamala owldreamer said...

Nora Roberts/JD Robb was my biggest influence in starting me on my path as a writer.

pamala owldreamer said...

Nora Roberts,Stephen King and my husband who tole me to stop thinking about writing and write the story running around in my head.

don e. nelson said...

. . . my dog, Yankee Doodle.25 docedBo

SK Figler said...

At Oglethorpe University (in the dark ages of half a century ago) my senior English professor said, "Steve, you have a very nice way with words, you just need something to write about." I took that as an encouraging comment, whether it was meant that way or not. A year later I was in a writing class at The New School (NYC) in which the teacher was so caustic that I gave up writing fiction for decades. So, they were both influential regarding my writing.

The writers who have influenced me in style, process, structure, and thought include Ron Carlson, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Philip and Henry Roth, Alice Munro, Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Chandler, Vonnegut, Chabon, Doctorow, Malamud, Melville, and of course Nabakov. Not all at the same time, certainly, but all are behind me kicking my butt (an indulgent fantasy, but not a bad one).

Thanks for the great question, Nathan. And what a response!

Related Posts with Thumbnails