One of my readers asked me not long ago to discuss which authors inspired me to become an author. So, here I am, trying to think of my early life. I began learning to read before I ever entered school. I think some people in my family thought I was going to have a difficult time learning my letters and numbers in school, so my education began very early. I seem to remember still living in Denver when my mother first showed me how to write my name, which meant I would have been 3-years-old at the most. Sesame Street taught me letters and numbers in English and Spanish, while older family members taught me to read English and German simultaneously. Unfortunately, I never used those languages enough and now I only have a minimal understanding of them now. I can get by with understanding the written words but conversational speaking is very difficult.
The first book I ever remember reading was a small, square copy of Cinderella. I don’t know if it was a Disney book or not but I remember that story as one I never tired of and the book soon had to be held together with masking tape. The idea that a girl who came from nothing could rise to something greater was very appealing to me and, truthfully, still is. I will never tire of this story. Early versions of Cinderella go back as far as ancient Greece and spread throughout antiquity, even in China. The story we know today closely resembles stories in Europe of girls named Cenerentola, Cinderella and Aschenputtel, all the same girl but different versions. This story is so old and retold with so many local variants that it has become as mythological as any great story of antiquity.
As I got older and improved my ability to read, I drifted into stories that took place in the nineteenth century because they gave me a sense of home that other stories did not. Of course, I read James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web and The Witches like the other kids in school but I never loved them as much as I did the Little Women and Little House on the Prairie series. I can truthfully say that it was Louisa May Alcott’s entrance into my life as the moment when I thought, “Wow, I want to be a writer too.” I still remember reading Little Women in the fourth grade and I even skipped recess for several days because I couldn’t put down the book. I knew nothing about the author herself but the natural narrative voice she used made me feel like I was sitting on her knee listening to her read the stories directly too me. It was a powerful realization that people could create stories that were enthralling and taught new ideas, moral lessons, or showed the way to love someone you never thought you could love. I began writing short stories because of Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Three authors that have kept me going when I have lacked inspiration or wanted to quit are Lynn Austin, Catherine Delors and Anne Rice. There was a time after my first novel when I took a break from writing in order to enjoy reading again but found myself painfully frustrated with the decline of American literature. I nearly lost all hope and considered not writing anymore because it appeared that no one was interested in reading anything good.
By divine order, I first became attracted to Anne Rice because her narrative voice is so thick and rich with the lyrical quality of the English language. She taught me to appreciate beauty in Victorian horror. Additionally, I came to appreciate Lynn Austin because of her ability to tell a thoroughly engrossing and lifelike historical story without being dry or inaccurate. On a similar vein, Catherine Delors also has the ability to tell a well-researched, fleshed out, interesting, relevant historical story without preaching to the reader. These are qualities that I try to emulate as well.
There you have it – a smattering of the books and authors who inspire me to be an author. I doubt I will ever reach a point in which I will influence new, up and coming writers. I merely write stories that I would personally enjoy and if other people enjoy them too, then that’s just an added bonus!