The Authors that Influenced Me

Sep 20, 2010

There are a lot of books in this world that have influenced me in one way or another-- in my writing, in my perceptions of the world, etc. But there are two particular authors who have influenced my writing, and not just through their books.

And I was lucky enough to go meet them both again at a book signing on Saturday.

Brandon Sanderson is an author I have loved since I read his first book, Elantris. Last Christmas, my husband bought me his most recent book-- and it was signed, which always makes me happy. In addition to the signing, my husband told me Brandon was teaching a class at BYU the next semester, and anyone was invited. Thrilled at the prospect, I went. And it was one of the best thing's I've ever done for my writing.

Not only did I get some of the best writing advice from Brandon, but I learned about the publishing industry. I was motivated to write more than I had in years, and rediscovered my love of it. And I decided I was going to seriously pursue this dream of becoming a published author.

The other writer who influenced me that I saw on Saturday is Dan Wells, author of the amazing I am Not a Serial Killer. Last April, I attended the Storymaker's Conference and signed up for a hardcore early-morning bootcamp critique group. Each group was led by a published author, and Dan was my group leader. Thanks to him (and the great group members like Angie!), I learned a great deal about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. It was another pivotal moment in my writing.

To my surprise, Dan remembered me at the signing. Apparently, I asked him the most interesting question he's ever gotten in a critique group-- I asked if a character with red hair was a cliche. Like my MC in the work we were critiquing. We decided that the hair was fine, but if she was "spunky" or if it was just used as her single defining trait, it was definitely cliche.

The things I learned from my experiences with these two authors helped shape my writing. So, friends, what about you? What authors, experiences, or books have shaped you as a writer?

P.S. Many thanks to Madeleine from Scribble and Edit for the Creative Blogger Award!
I'm passing this on to A.L. Sonnichsen, Jenn Hoffine, Taffy, Naomi, and Chersti. Go check out their blogs, they're wonderful.

21 comments:

Bekah said...

I don't think one writer shaped me. I just had to find the courage to sit down and write the stories that I had wanted to for a while. Once I did, I didn't feel so shy or scared anymore : )

M Pax said...

Many of the classics influenced my idea of great story. Authors I know in life help me grow my craft these days. Their advice is a lifeline. They helped me do well with my pitches in August. So, I am grateful for their friendship. None of us write the same genre, but I find that useful.

David P. King said...

It sure was great to meet you at Authorpalooza, and you have a fantastic blog here. Love the layout (partial to blue). I made mention of our meeting and your blog on my blog, so I hope you don't mind. I look forward to reading your work someday. As far as authors and experiences that shaped me, I give credit to Orson Scott Card and Dean Kootz - and Mr. Sanderson, of course. In one form or another, they've encouraged me to write and to keep on trying.

Elana Johnson said...

I love Brandon and Dan too. What a great tribute post. I wish I could've gone to the signing. Alas, I was at the League of Utah Writers Roundup. But that was fun, too. :)

Angie said...

I got to see them both on Saturday too. Too bad we weren't there at the same time. It's great how they have influenced you. I thought boot camp was the best part of the conference, although I had to get up unnaturally early for it! (Thanks for the link!)

Julie Musil said...

That is unbelievably cool that you got to sit with two of your favorite authors. How many writers get the chance to do that? Amazing.

I'd say the author that's really had an impact on me is Jodi Picoult. Her books leave me breathless, wondering how in the world she spins a tale that makes me wish the characters were real.

Anne said...

I never thought of red hair+spunk as being cliche but I suppose that's true. Is your character an orphan named Annie? Then it might be an issue. :)

Jackee said...

Wonderful post! I really only know writers online so their influence has been great there. Someday I would LOVE to meet, speak, (and hug!) some authors I know online. Then learn at their feet. :o) Thanks for sharing your great experience. (And I agree Angie is amazing. hee, hee.)

Congrats on the award!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Thank you so much for the award, Shallee!

That IS a good question about the red hair. My first novel's mc had red hair. It makes me wonder why I made her that way. The whole ms was filled with cliches, so I wouldn't be surprised if that was just another to add to the list. :)

Great post and thanks again!!
Amy

Christina Lee said...

Oh, too many to count. What a cool story--I can't believe you were able to take his class!

LeishaMaw said...

Dan and Brandon are awesome. There are way too many amazing writers that shape me. You'd think with all this shaping I'd look better in jeans. Sheesh.

Joana said...

When I think about it, I think I can cite one specific book that influenced my writing: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. I write YA queer lit, which is a genre overflowing with characters who take drugs, are raped, commit suicide, and all the other nastiness of the world, just because they're gay or lesbian. Levithan's book, however, was lighthearted and fun, and never got TOO serious. That's the kind of thing I'd like to publish, when the day comes.

Terresa said...

Wasn't LDS Storymakers great last spring? I can't wait to attend again next year.

The big-heartedness of fellow writers and authors have influenced me in my writing journey, tremendously.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm always amazed at how receptive established writers are at helping out fledgling ones. It's part of what makes me want to be a part of this industry. :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Simply awesome experiences. I love meeting people I admire.It never fails to inspire me.I wish I got to do it more ofen!

Madeleine said...

You are welcome Shallee,
I'm not sure of one, single author that influenced me. I have a favourite author, Andrea Levy and books that at different times have provided me with different experiences and I plan to add these on my weekend novel blogfest this weekend, so I hope lots of people hop along and join in the fun on Saturday. :O)

Myrna Foster said...

I loved Elantris. It's still my favorite of his books.

Good luck with your 250 words over at Elle's. They made me want to know more about the world you'd created.

Shelley Sly said...

You're so lucky to have had such wonderful experiences! I haven't read books by either author, but I'll have to check them out. :)

Chersti Nieveen said...

Thanks so much for the award, Shallee! I feel honored.

Michelle said...

Shalee, thank you for sharing some great blogs to follow! This is very helpful to me as I ponder what to include in my next round of edits, as I work to expand a 28,000-word MG into a 60,000-wore YA.

Krista V. said...

Great post, Shallee. At this point, I'd say the single biggest influence on my writing career has been my son - or rather, my son's birth.

After having him, I quit work, and I suddenly found myself with all kinds of uninterrupted naptime. (Yeah, sleeping is his superpower:) ) I hadn't written anything other than college papers in years, but I decided to give a full-length manuscript another crack. Three years later, I'm still cracking (though not on the same manuscript), but I feel like I've grown so much as a writer in that time. It's always great to rediscover a past love:)

 
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