I always find it interesting to find out what writers have influenced other authors, so I thought I’d post my own list for those who are curious about such things.
1) J.R.R. Tolkien – Because I read The Lord of the Rings at the age of 12 and decided that I wanted to be a writer then and there.
2) Raymond Chandler – The king of the crime novel, yes, but also the king of snappy dialogue. Words are more dangerous than bullets in his books. I learned everything I know about the rhythm of dialogue from Philip Marlowe.
3) Richard Russo – Nobody’s Fool ranks as my absolute, #1 all-time favorite novel. I’ve never read a more perfect and complete character study in one book, and I’ve also never laughed so hard while my heart was breaking.
4) Jim Butcher – He is one of the gutsiest writers going right now. Every time I think I’ve settled comfortably in Harry Dresden’s world Butcher does something completely insane. Grave Peril was a major game-changer for the whole series, and it goes without saying that after the last book (Changes) that Dresden’s world will be a lot different. When I’m writing and I reach a point where I’m not sure if I should push Maddy’s world any further I think about the stuff Butcher has done to Harry and realize I can do a lot more.
5) Charlaine Harris – I just love the way she can sum up the essence of a character in one sentence or less and her mastery of first-person voice is unparalleled.
6) Jane Austen – I read Pride and Prejudice at least twice a year whenever the itch comes on. Her dialogue, her sense of pacing, her development of character – there is a reason why this book is timeless.
7) Jim Thompson – He was writing some of the rawest noir out there at a time when American culture was still pretty straight-laced. Even in our totally violence-numbed contemporary culture his work still has the power to shock. I love writers who can do this – the ones who make me want to cover my eyes so I don’t see what happens next, but are so compelling that I have to peek through my fingers and see how it all turns out.
8 ) Stephen King – There is still no better writer out there at building atmosphere. He’s also one of the most patient writers I’ve ever read. He’s willing to take the time to build a world and the characters that inhabit it. And just when you think he’s not quite up to his past level he releases a book like Cell or Under the Dome, two of his best books ever in a catalog filled with greats.