If you write, who or what influences you to do so? Are you inspired by the works of other authors that you’d like to in some way emulate or, conversely, have you read something that was so bad that you decided you could do it better and you set out to prove it? Do you simple look at all of the things that happen in your every day life and imagine how you could turn them into a story? If you’re like me, your writing influences are probably some combination of all of these things.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a mystery lover. It started with the ‘Encyclopedia Brown’ series when I was in grade school and rolled right on through the ‘Hardy Boys’ and ‘Nancy Drew’ when I was a pre-teen in junior high. My love of mysteries would eventually find me reading everything from pulps, to hard boiled, to thrillers and so much more. I’ve read a literal A to Z of mystery authors covering hundreds – if not thousands – of books and I’ve loved almost every last one of them or, at least, found something of value in each even if I found the story to be somewhat lacking or even too formulaic.
In my years after high school and, especially after my first four years in the military, I discovered the legal thriller through writers like David Baldacci, John Grisham and Scott Turow. Their primary works are similar to my beloved mysteries with plenty of suspense but oh so different too because of endings that often don’t nail down the villains but, rather, have them getting off Scot-free. Oh but to be able to write such an engrossing novel myself! Sadly, with zero legal background, there’s no way I’d ever be able to pull that off plausibly at anything approaching their level of writing.
My personal influences include the likes of those three legal thriller writers above plus mystery and thriller writers like Kim Baldwin, Agatha Christie, Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell, Michael Crichton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Janet Evanovich, Dick Frances, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, Ellen Hart, Gerri Hill, Dean Koontz, Sara Paretsky, Robert Parker, James Patterson, Lisa Scottoline, Ellery Queen and so many others. Now, that’s not me name dropping. That’s me telling you what’s at the core of why I’m attempting now to write books – mystery books. The work of all of these writers has influenced many of the stories rolling around in my head, waiting to be told. My first book, Relic, isn’t half the story that any of their work is but, given time and healthy doses of great writing from all of them to influence me, I plan to get a lot better. I certainly hope that I do.
So, whose writing influences you to write? Please tell me about it. I’d love to hear your story too!