What writer influenced you the most?

I’ve spent my life reading, so from a young age, “story” seeped into my conscious mind and steeped there until I began writing. In that way, all of the writers whose books I have ever read have influenced me, but if I had to pick a single author, it would be Taylor Caldwell. Caldwell told wonderful stories that showed history in the context of fiction, and I’ve tried to do the same. She also used a hundred words when a single sentence would have sufficed, and I’ve tried to do the opposite. And she overused words. In one novel, she used the word “inexorable” about a hundred times, and a couple of times I used the word in my own writings as an homage to her and a reminder to myself not to repeat unusual words. Such echoes resound in readers minds, as “inexorable” did in mine, and detract from the overall impression of the book.

Here are some responses from other authors about the writers who influenced them the most. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .

From an interview with Rami Ungar, Author of “The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones”

I’d have to say Anne Rice, Stephen King, and James Patterson. I discovered the first two when I was in junior high and high school, and they blew my mind. I knew after reading them, horror was what I wanted to focus on. I discovered James Patterson shortly before graduating high school, and I think he was the one who taught me how to write thrillers. To this day, I think of Alex Cross and James Patterson when I think about how I was able to write my thriller novel “Snake”.

From an interview with Juliet Waldron, Author of “Roan Rose”

At the moment, I’d say Cecelia Holland.

From an interview with Sherrie Hansen, Author of “Love Notes”

Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy Tacy books, set in fictional Deep Valley, Minnesota, my home state, greatly impacted my life as a young person. (Think Little House on the Prairie but set during the Victorian era.) Maud’s main character, Betsy Ray, longed to be a writer, and set the stage – really formed the expectation in my mind – that I would write a novel one day. The Betsy Tacy books are wonderful (and back in print thanks to Harper Collins). One of the guest rooms at my B&B is named “Heaven to Betsy” in honor of the tomes.

From an interview with Noah Baird, Author of Donations to Clarity

I picked up Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins when I was about 21. It was the book which really spoke to me. I’d always enjoyed reading, but it was the first book I felt like it was written to me. I loved Steinbeck, Twain, etc, but they were from another generation. Woodpecker was the literary equivalent of hearing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit or Don McLean’s American Pie for the first time. I felt like someone else out there saw the world like I did. Christopher Moore, Tim Dorsey, and Carl Hiaasen are larger influences on me now, but Tom Robbins was the first to knock me down the rabbit hole.

What about you? What writer influenced you the most?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire http://patbertram.wordpress.com/author-questionnaire/ and follow the instruction.)

13 Responses to “What writer influenced you the most?”

  1. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I was influenced by Michael Shaara. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning “The Killer Angels” which became the movie “Gettysburg.” I liked his books, but also liked him as a teacher. he was my creative writing instructor in college (Florida State). We met once a week at his house and sat around on the livingroom floor with coffee and snacks and talked about storytelling. His son and daughter were young then and came out for the snacks. Now they’re grown and writing their own novels.


  2. dellanioakes Says:

    I can look at several influences in my work. Andre Norton highly influenced my sci-fi/ fantasy writing. I fell in love with her work when I was in the third grade. I also can look to Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Richard Brautigan, James Thurber and Donald Westlake for their influence in my work. I learned pacing, dialogue and humor from these men. They all crafted totally different stories, all of which added to my own voice.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I didn’t have any particular fondness for Ray Bradbury when I was young, but later, after I started writing, I developed an appreciation for his lyrical style. He used words unlike any other writer.

      • dellanioakes Says:

        Some of my friends used excerpts from his books for speech contests when I was in high school. I fell in love with “Dandelion Wine” and discovered his other work after that.

        • vampirebirdie Says:

          I got Dandelion Wine as a Christmas present a few years ago. I like it as an early work but I love Fahrenheit 451. I especially likwe the idealistic ‘book’ people.

  3. B Y Rogers Says:

    John Irving, Harper Lee, Joseph Conrad, Victor Hugo and Upton Sinclair. Each for their own reasons.

  4. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    Arthur Conan Doyle would be one of my earliest influences. Elementary, Pat.

    Anyone who has written any dark fiction headed toward horror has been influenced by H. P. Lovecraft whether they know it or not. Lovecraft influenced King and so, if you have been influenced by King, you have also been influenced by his mentor Lovecraft. So I’ll put down Lovecraft as an influence as well as Robert E. Howard.

    When I had just left high school there was Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    Over the last decade I have been influenced by Terry Pratchett and also by Lewis Carroll. Friend and novelist Lyn McConchie has been an influence along with Barbara Custer and Pat Bertram.

  5. Cathy Gingrich Says:

    Hi Pat,
    I love to talk about the books I remember from my youth. If I don’t count comic books or novels like “Little Women”, I think the first “adult” book I remember reading was “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William Shirer. I was profoundly changed by that work…it shook me out of my misty adolescence of the 1960s and into the land of the sad reality of human nature. What I liked about Taylor Caldwell was her belief that mirrored my own thoughts…that humans were corrupt, but, in the end, we could count on God to sort things out. It’s also what I loved about JD Salinger.

    I also fell in love with books my mother read. Frank Yerby and his romantic tales of the Old South. What a ruckus when the public found out he was black! Their obvious prejudice made me laugh, I have to admit. And, no list I could ever make would be complete without “Angelique”, the fantastic series written by Serge Golon. “Angelique”, was my hero if she danced with kings in France or skinned bears in the New World, and I envied her as I washed diapers and burped babies. I think much of the travails of “Angelique”, of her grit and determination to survive, has seeped into my own book, “The Darque Princess Chronicles” which will soon be available on Lulu. Thanks, as always, Pat, for the opportunity to share. Elaine Garverick.

  6. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Thanks for sharing Pat. I really appreicate it.

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