Thursday, September 4, 2014

Influenced By . . .

Who do you consider your literary influences? It's something I've been thinking about lately as I get ready to market my current WIP, The Abyssal Plain. Although I still have about 60 pages left to edit, I'm giving serious thought to my query letters, synopses, and anything else I can put together that can describe both my book and who I am as a writer.

Last night I made a list of all the authors I believe have had the most influence on my own work. In no particular order, they are:
  • Victoria Holt
  • Mary Stewart
  • Daphne Du Maurier
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Ursula Undset
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Jean Rhys
  • Katherine Neville
  • Doris Lessing
  • Willa Cather
  • Angela Carter
  • Velda Johnston
  • Shirley Hazzard
  • Luke Jennings
  • Arturo Perez-Reverte 
  • Yukio Mishima
  • Haruki Marukami
  • Ray Bradbury
After making my list, I wanted to know what it was these particular authors had in common and/or why they appealed to me so much. I narrowed it down to these categories:
  • Language. Rich, lush, yet also straightforward in meaning. Strong sentences that when read alone could almost be mistaken for poetry.
  • Gothic suspense. Characters and plot lines filled with a sense of foreboding and the darker side of human nature.
  • Details. Dress fabrics, tea ceremony rituals, the dust on Mars--I love experiencing every little nuance transporting me into a world I can see, hear, taste, smell, and until the oven timer rings and I have to choose between burning dinner or finishing "just one more page."
  • A brooding sense of melancholy. Although I enjoy a good conclusion to a story, I've never insisted any book I read end with "happily ever after." I'm just as comfortable with  open endings, characters who end up wiser but not necessarily happier, and anything that leaves me on a philosophical note regarding human nature.
  • International and historical settings and culture. One of my favorite things about reading is the chance to travel through both space and time without leaving home. From medieval Sweden to modern-day Japan, I've gone there just on the strength of my library card.
  • Genre description: literary fiction. I enjoy reading a wide variety of genres, but I always seem to come back to what I call "literary page-turners," books that don't necessarily follow strict (or any) genre guidelines, break a lot of the "writing rules," and yet manage to hook me in so I never want to stop reading. All of the authors I've listed above fit the bill perfectly.
I'm sure there are many more connections I could make between my authors-of-influence, but for now that seems to be a good start to understanding why I write the way I do. And speaking of writing, it's time to get back to work--hoping to turn those 60 pages into a nice round zero before the end of the month!

Tip of the Day: Making a list of "where you came from" is a great exercise for developing your personal brand and marketing materials. For extra credit, why not share some or all of your list under "Post a Comment"? Inquiring minds would love to know! Happy memories, everyone--looking forward to reading your findings.


Emmy said...

I so love that you have Victoria Holt and Haruki Murakami in the same list! Two of my favorites too :-)

Valerie Storey said...

Great to meet a kindred spirit! I also realized I left one of my all-time mentors off the list: Phyllis A. Whitney. I enjoy both her novels and her how-to books. Thank you for visiting!