Ooh hard question today, not because it doesn’t apply but because I have so many writers I admire, both professional and amateur (and I use that term very loosely because the line is so very, very thin and jagged.)
15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!
First, I have to determine how I define my “admiration” of a writer. Is it their work ethic, their body of work, their background / obstacles overcome, amount of influence they’ve had on my work, my own personal experiences with them? So many different ways I could tackle this question.
One reason this is difficult is because I’ve only just expanded my reader’s world into the writer’s world. Before, I thought about the book first, author second, and honestly, that’s how I still think it should be for readers. I’m not typically buying the promise of talent when I make a book purchase from an author who is new to me, but THAT book, that story specifically.
Some authors impress me book after book, though the more I read by a single author, the more of a writing pattern I see emerge that tends to erode some of the polish. Fair? No, but that’s how it is.
To name names though, I’d start with Charlaine Harris because I’ve read nearly everything she’s written. Some I read because I had to finish out the series, not necessarily because they were outstanding on their own stand alone merits. But in every series, she created a unique and interesting main character and that’s what kept me coming back (especially Harper Connelly). Plus she writes primarily in first person, past tense like me.
One of my earlier favorites was Anne Tyler, though it’s been many years since I read her works. I could always count on Anne to really get to the emotions and motivations of the characters, no matter how quirky.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jane Austen. I don’t even think I need to explain the why of her.
On the humor front, I’ve always loved Erma Bombeck, read all her books. Same with Jean Shepherd. Many may not know Jean as an author, but most are familiar with the movie A Christmas Story, based on his book, and with his distinctive narrator’s voice as the grown up Ralphie.
For thrilling action, I can always count on Michael Crichton and John Grisham. I love a thriller set in a professional arena, just do, because that’s akin to my own background.
On the short story front, I devoured almost everything O’Henry and Guy de Maupassant wrote. They were the kings of the twist ending. I make no apologies for my flash fiction stories imitating their styles. Short story purists may say the twist ending is a hackneyed technique but I really don’t care. That’s what I liked about their short stories and what I strive for in the ones I write.
In the romance/chick lit genre, I’ve been impressed by many writers that I’ve read lately: Julia Quinn, Loretta Chase, Jennifer Crusie, Sophie Kinsella. Going farther back I read Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Betty Neels. Nothing like a good gothic romance or large stoic Dutch doctor.
This next group contains writers whose works I might never have purchased had I not run across them at Absolute Write. I shudder when I write this because it’s scary how tragic it would have been to have deferred discovery of such talents. Plus there is the added element that they are closer to being real “people” to me versus celebrities. Right now I’m reading Annelise Ryan’s Working Stiff and what a treasure that book is. Wonderful, wonderful and more wonderful. I will definitely be buying the next Mattie Winston mystery when it comes out. Ditto Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series I devoured one after the other. The fourth (and fifth?) ones can’t be released soon enough. Jill Myles’s Succubus Diaries series also grabbed me as being sinfully delicious fun to read and I’ll only have to wait a few more months for book number three. I just finished Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF and wow, that was every bit deserving of its pre-release hype.
Then we have the unpublished (for now) group of authors who’ve shared their talents with me in their earlier stages and humored me by helping me with my fledgling attempts. (For a hint as to who some of them are, for there are many, check out my blog roll.) They write in many different styles, some of whom have only shown me their short stories or blog excerpts. Other than talent, the main trait they share is they are all incredibly hard workers, who are devoted to learning and improving and helping others. (One in particular has the most amazing work ethic, is so prolific, she shames me. Trace the link to see who. Ha ha just kidding, I meant this one.) Traits to be proud of, published or not. Writers just as worthy of admiration as the collective body of works of all the other authors I’ve mentioned. I’m honored to have known them “when”.