KAK's 5 Authors Who Influence My Writing:
- Eleanor Hibbert aka Victoria Holt -- First author whose complete gothic romantic suspense works I devoured as a budding tweenager. She had at least eight pen names--one per genre. Had I grokked the concept of multiple pen names at that time, the base librarian would never have gotten rid of me. Holt sparked my love of mysteries.
- Morgan Llywelyn -- author of Irish historical fiction and mythology, she got my attention with Lion of Ireland, lured me back with The Bard, and hooked me forever with Red Branch. When she moved way ahead in time to 1916: The Irish Rebellion and followed that up with 1921, 1949, 1972 my American education hadn't prepared me for the gut-wrenching history through which the fiction was threaded. If Llywelyn's written it, I own it, with the exception of her Young Readers books. She rules world-building and balances it expertly alongside character development.
- Sherrilyn Kenyon -- Comedy, action, romance, and the paranormal. When I decided I wanted to take writing seriously, she was the "it" author at the time, the darling, the rockstar. I read everything she'd published. It wasn't hard. These were easy, fast, fun reads centered around characters who stuck with you. That last part was the skill I was trying to develop as an author. Showalter, Cole, Sands, etc., are all part of the PNR Romance writers whose stories helped me dissect character-driven plots to get to the heart of the characters.
- Nigel Tranter -- Scottish historical fiction author (among other things). Deep, deep conspiracy-laden whodunnit court intrigue wrapped around actual historical figures. I bought the Bruce trilogy/omnibus-doorstop to take on a road trip. By the time I'd finished the tome, there would never again be a billion dollar Hollywood movie that could conjure vivid settings like a Tranter novel. I'd been spoiled by a man who got into writing fiction because of his interest in the architecture of medieval castles. Tranter was very prolific. I wish I could say I had read all of his fiction, but his works require intense focus because they are so rich. His books are like a seven-layer chocolate cake that you love, but can only eat one thin sliver at a time. I aspire to weave the kind of engaging complexities into my novels that he did.
- Bernard Cornwell -- Historical fiction author of the best battle scenes ever. While Stonehenge is my favorite of his (yet probably the book with the fewest combat scenes), Sharpe's Eagle was where I cut my tweenage-teeth on boys in battle, the build-up, and the fallout of the actual shots-fired-conflict. That love hasn't waned. In case you're wondering, Sharpe is probably the only show/series in which Sean Bean actually lives to the end.
If you haven't read at least three books by each of these authors, do it. They're very different storytellers in voice, style, and content. Yes, my influences are all...white. Yes, that is a large part of the reason I'm making a conscious effort now to read more diversely. I'm eager to learn from a wider pool of influencers.