It’s really difficult to put together a list of all of the authors who have influenced my style. I think so much of the nature of influence is sort of subconscious. Still, I have favorite authors, authors who I read and think “This is what I would like to accomplish when I write.” Here are a few favorites.
From childhood to present day, I have found Stephen King’s vision, his style and his ability to tell a story that so many people want to hear nothing short of legendary. I honestly believe he is the greatest writer of the century. If I could choose one writer in the world to spend a day with and absorb whatever I could, this would be the guy.
If you read a lot of science fiction, Philip K. Dick needs no introduction. If you don’t read much science fiction, think of your favorite science fiction movies and I can almost guarantee that one of them was based on a Philip K. Dick book. He was an inspiration not only because he wrote such great science fiction, but because he wrote so much of it. He wrote book after book of fascinating, consistently different and solid stories, and that is something to which any writer can aspire.
Another fairly prolific author, his sense of humor despite a sometimes bleak outlook of humanity’s future made for many classic works. He’s another of my favorites, despite the fact that if I don’t read him in small doses, I tend toward nightmares.
Speaking of sense of humor – Douglas Adams is best known for Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, and all of the subsequent chapters of that story. It’s wonderful stuff, not just funny but laugh-out-loud-in-the-library-so-that-everyone-glances-uncomfortably-at-you-like-you’re-losing-your-mind funny. Not only that, but once I learned a little bit about physics, I was doubly impressed by the genuine science in his science fiction (between singing dolphins and whales falling out of the aether, that is.)
(RIP) Aeon was a Seattle based online science fiction magazine, and in it, I read some of the best short fiction I have ever encountered. It was my very favorite, and when it closed its doors last year, it nearly broke my heart. I don’t know if you can still get it or not, given the nature of online magazines, but if you can, you should.
In my humble opinion, George R.R. Martin is the best fantasy author writing today. His work is gritty, surprising, fast paced, and utterly engrossing. When I’m reading the latest from his Song of Ice and Fire series (which I anxiously await) I am absolutely incapable of putting it down. His other works are similarly fantastic, although I’ll admit that the Song of Ice and Fire is my favorite.
Her Deverry series is dizzyingly intricate and perfectly written. The scope, the depth and the characters of the series are nothing short of inspirational. Katharine Kerr’s work is fantasy writing at its best.
As a young girl I read and re-read the Dragon Prince series, and was surprised to find that when I picked it up recently it had the same draw to my adult self (not always the case.) Rawn’s political twists and turns, the way she turned the undying love between her two main characters into a part of the setting, the nobility and twisted evil of her various characters, and her deft skill at balancing the wide cast of characters she introduces; they make for great reading as well as raising the bar for fantasy writers.