Who are your influences?

When I grow up – and I hope to do so this year – I’m going to write like Deborah Wiles.

Wiles is one of my heroes. I met her at the 2011 Western Washington SCBWI conference in April of 2011. She was the keynote speaker. I’ve been a fan of hers since I listened to an audio recording of her book, “Love, Ruby Lavender.” My twins, 8 at the time, and I were driving from Seattle to Portland. The book was so good that we got to our hotel and sat in the car, still listening. The characters that inhabit Wiles’ books are so rich and vivid that you just don’t want your time with them to end. I believe this is referred to as a book hangover. 

During her speech, Wiles asked the audience, “Who are your influences?” Besides her, here are a few of mine.

Stephen King. His book, “On Writing” is my favorite writing book. My office walls are covered with quotes from this book. My current favorite: “Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction, can be a difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub.”

James Thayer. I have read nearly all of his fiction; I especially liked “Five Past Midnight.” But it’s his book on writing, “The Essential Guide to Writing a Novel,” that is always within arm’s reach. My copy is full of passages I’ve highlighted with whatever pen I could find at the time. His writing is tight. No extra words. I like that.

I’m such a fan of Ray Bradbury that I wanted to name my son after him. (My husband, Chris, said no). Bradbury’s book, “Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius within you,” sits on a shelf next to my dictionary and King’s book. Favorite quote: “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

Elizabeth George. Reading her book, “Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life,” taught me to keep a journal of whatever I’m currently writing. George does this to remind herself that whatever difficulties she’s facing with her current work, she’s triumphed over these challenges before. A favorite quote from her:  “Writing is a job like any other. You succeed by virtue of working at it.”

Speaking of which, time to go to work.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. This next part gets bumpy. Tomorrow, I write about my favorite villains: bullies and bankers. Image

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