View Full Version : What author inspired you to write?

10-26-2012, 01:44 AM
I've always been a storyteller. Once I was able to pick up a pen and write basic sentence structures, I began scribbling my first written works. I've always been fascinated with suspense, the supernatural, and any story that has that "bump-in-the-night" feel. I was raised, however, in a very religious home, and those kind of stories were frowned upon, so I read The Boxcar Children and Teddy Jo series, simply because I was unaware there was anything else out there. When I was 12 or 13, my cousin (the black sheep of the family...a title which I now hold) gave me a stack of R.L. Stine's Fear Street books (on the very down low). I read them all in a week. It became my mission to read all things R.L. Stine, including the Goosebumps series. Just after I turned 14, his adult novel, Superstitious, was released. I read it in one afternoon. I read it again the next day.

I can unabashedly say that R. L. Stine was my inspiration to write horror. As I've aged and my reading tastes have diversified, I can add several more authors to the list (Lovecraft, especially), but Stine will always be held in a very special (though dark and twisted) space in my writer's heart.

Can you remember what author (or book) first inspired you to write? Or perhaps introduced you to a genre that made your world seem a bit more complete?

10-26-2012, 01:46 AM
I was more inspired by movies and other artistic mediums to be honest. I was a writer long before I was a reader. But if I had to choose one, I'd say Kentarou Miura. And I'd leave it at that.

Also, not sure if this is the right place for this thread?

10-26-2012, 01:51 AM
This is absolutely the wrong place for this thread. I mean to post it to Basic Writing Questions...but apparently my brain short-circuited. I hope a kindly mod will move it for me. My apologies. :Shrug:

10-26-2012, 03:49 AM
Ann M. Martin was my first favorite author, and Francine Pascal. Then I moved onto Nick Hornby, and now I'm obsessing over Stephen King.

I know, diversity, huh? ;)

No one inspired me, really, though--perhaps with the exception of Pascal. I mean, ever since I was able to hold a pen, I've been writing. I still recall the moment I realized it's what I'm meant to do: I was 9 I think, in my classroom, and as if someone turned the switch on a lighter, I knew.

Surreal, but here I am, 18 years later.

Paperback Writer
10-26-2012, 03:57 AM
Douglas Adams, I remember reading on his website "Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds.." Also the whole bit about being a researcher for the h2g2/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy website helped out a lot, and influenced my good grades in the English department during college.

10-26-2012, 04:00 AM
Poul Anderson, followed by Alan Dean Foster.

10-26-2012, 04:14 AM
I can't say that I was inspired by any thing in particular. Ever since I was little my mind was subject to a constant stream of ideas. I'd tell them to anyone who would hear them, which, sad to say, was none since no one could stand my presence. I simply talked too damn much! I decided to write them down instead. That was six years ago. Today I have a fine command of the English language and since I am more older I now have the liberty to share my writings with anyone who would lend an ear (or eyes).

August Talok
10-26-2012, 04:19 AM
"Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" and "The Hobbit"

10-26-2012, 04:43 AM
I'm with a couple others here who've said they didn't have an author to point to, they just started writing. Same here. It's just innate.

But if we're going to just list authors who've further inspired us...Lian Hearn has to be a big one for me. I always go back to her. Michael Crichton, Stephan Baxter, Ben Bova, and dozens of other books I read in middle school whose authors I've forgotten over time.

That's a quiet tragedy, forgetting the title and author of some book that you'd love to reread...I feel like my whole mind is like that, a big dusty library with half-formed images, plots, and such from books I read in middle school and will never find again. :cry:

10-26-2012, 07:51 AM
Well, J.K. Rowling was the first author ever to make me want to write. My first novel, however, was more influenced by The Hobbit with a good sprinkling of Super Nintendo RPG's. I have since broadened my reading horizons.

Post 2500!!!

Griffin Hayes
10-26-2012, 07:58 AM

10-26-2012, 08:07 AM
Christopher Paolini

10-26-2012, 08:07 AM
Well, J.K. Rowling was the first author ever to make me want to write. My first novel, however, was more influenced by The Hobbit with a good sprinkling of Super Nintendo RPG's. I have since broadened my reading horizons.

Post 2500!!!

Got to love a little Final Fantasy!!!

10-26-2012, 08:17 AM
The writer who inspired me to write was my high school English teacher, Anne Morin.
/enter sappy music here

There are many who I love to read though, and every single time I read a good book it inspires me to write something. It doesn't matter if it's a classic or a short story. Also, I am presently enamored with Chelsea Cain. I haven't read her yet - just picked up her latest book a couple weeks ago and it is on my "to read" pile, but I heard her speak at a convention and decided I want to be like her when I grow up.

10-26-2012, 08:55 AM
All those who wrote historical fiction: Dumas, Dickens, ....

10-26-2012, 09:15 AM
Welcome to the Forum!

10-26-2012, 10:38 AM
Nice question.
For me, believe it or not, it was Louisa May Alcott. It was her "Jo" who made me first think about writing down any of the stories I used to tell myself before falling asleep.
It was a long way from there, but one day I started.
Next should be finishing one of my manuskripts - actually I need to do a lot of rewriting still.
But I still remember Jo.

10-26-2012, 10:50 AM
Great question, WritingWithoutFear. At least it's interesting to me. :)

I could hear your passion for R.L. Stine come alive in your own answer. I imagine that bodes well for your fiction.

Dan Simmons and George R.R. Martin are my own inspirations. I worship at the altar of excellence, and those two showed me how great genre fiction can be (though I lament even the tiniest hint of apology my wording might imply).

I've read other great authors, of course, but Messrs. Simmons and Martin make me want to write and to write well.

10-26-2012, 12:38 PM
The first story I read where I thought "Damn, I wish I'd written that story!" was Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba (its a manga series). The plot and characters and pace is so fantastic! Though like rwm4768, I would also say J.K. Rowling. Though it's more her writing style I like, I'm not that into fantasy, more sci fi/suspense.

10-26-2012, 01:28 PM
Porting over to Roundtable

10-26-2012, 02:11 PM
Clive Barker, Edward Lee and Chuck Palahniuk. I know it's a bit of a weird mix, but they inspire me the most. :)

10-26-2012, 10:36 PM
I'm happy to see so many people respond to this question! I find it intriguing to see what kind of authors inspire other writers. One day I hope an aspiring author scribbles my name down on a list of inspirations. :)

Porting over to Roundtable

Thank you for the move, regdog. My apologies for the inappropriate post. I pinky-promise to be more careful where I post my threads from here on out.

The writer who inspired me to write was my high school English teacher, Anne Morin.
/enter sappy music here

Love this answer!

That's a quiet tragedy, forgetting the title and author of some book that you'd love to reread...I feel like my whole mind is like that, a big dusty library with half-formed images, plots, and such from books I read in middle school and will never find again. :cry:

I feel ya. There are several books I remember bits and pieces from, but have forgotten title and author over the years. That's exactly why I started my "favorite books" journal. When I read a book that I thought was exceptional, I jot down the title and author. Then I make notes on why I thought the story was so great (i.e. characterization, pacing, plot, suspense, etc). I read SO much, including some lousy or mediocre books, that I want to make sure I always remember the great ones. If only I had started this journal in middle school....

Clive Barker, Edward Lee and Chuck Palahniuk. I know it's a bit of a weird mix, but they inspire me the most. :)

I :heart: Edward Lee. The first book of his I read was Flesh Gothic and I was hooked. His writing is so...disturbing (which IMHO, is a very good thing). I am in awe at the way he can weave a tale that makes the reader both nauseated and aroused. I love Richard Laymon for very similar reasons.

10-26-2012, 11:09 PM
Honestly? Steven King. When I was a kid I used to read my mother's books because I found the children's books she bought me boring.

Wisteria Vine
10-26-2012, 11:49 PM
Andre Norton & Carolyn Keene

10-27-2012, 12:17 AM
Robert Sheckley, Arthur C. Clarke, Mark Twain, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.

10-27-2012, 01:07 AM
No one, really. I've just always been a big reader and daydreamer. One day I decided to start writing my own stories. And here I am.

10-27-2012, 01:47 AM
Ray Bradbury. "The Veldt." Blew my mind. :)

10-27-2012, 08:42 AM
I was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. When I was younger I wanted to write just like him. I still haven't quite managed it. :D

10-27-2012, 08:54 AM
Looking back (a loooooooong way, I must confess), I would say, in chronological order:

Mark Twain
H.G. Wells
William Golding
Ray Bradbury
William Faulkner
Joseph Conrad
Kurt Vonnegut
John Irving (helped that he was my graduate thesis supervisor)
Willa Cather
James M. Cain

All of these helped me become the writer I am today, which is . . . . . . sob . . . .


Susan Littlefield
10-27-2012, 08:57 AM
Laura Ingalls Wilder (when I was a child), V.C. Andrews (when I was a teen), Stephen King and Ray Bradbury (both when I became an adult), to name a few.

I've Edgar Allan Poe from day one, and love him to this day. I always wanted to write the dark scary stuff.

I am inspired by many different authors.

10-27-2012, 09:00 AM
No one, really. Just started writing.

Complete with preschool misspellings and crayon illustrations.

Richard Paolinelli
10-27-2012, 10:12 AM
Edgar Allan Poe

10-27-2012, 10:19 AM
Wasn't inspired by an author--I liked to write in school and realized that I really liked it and I wanted to write stories. But there were authors who inspired me to keep writing when I was a child, specifically with other writing female characters like Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Jo in Little Women.

Paperback Writer
10-27-2012, 11:09 AM
All of these helped me become the writer I am today, which is . . . . . . sob . . . .

Aww don't be so hard on yourself.

Rubay H.
10-27-2012, 11:56 AM
The writer who inspired me to write was my high school English teacher, Anne Morin.
/enter sappy music here

Heh, same here, it was my English teacher, Mrs. Watson, who inspired me.
She left during my junior year in highschool, but in my senior year she came back one day and I ran into her as she was walking out of the school office. I asked what she'd been doing lately and I guess she had run off and become a successful author of erotica.
She didn't tell me the name of her books of course, but she definitely wasn't embarrassed by it.
I'm quite proud of her now, although at the time my girlfriends and I got quite the giggle out of old Mrs. Watson writing erotica. :tongue
But she was the one that inspired me to write and told me I ought to pursue it.
I wish I hadn't waited so long to finally take her advice. Twenty years later and here I am giving it my best shot. :)

10-27-2012, 03:55 PM
The first name that came to mind for me was C.S. Lewis -- I read and re-read the Narnia series many times in late Elementary school. Later on, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Milan Kundera were inspirational/influential, along with a lot of others.

10-27-2012, 08:04 PM
I can't think of any one author. I write in multiple genres, so the list is very diverse. I get inspired by fantastic writing and an engaging story.

10-27-2012, 09:13 PM
Can you remember what author (or book) first inspired you to write? Or perhaps introduced you to a genre that made your world seem a bit more complete?

Such a wonderful question. I'm really enjoying reading everyone's answers!

My parents read extensively to me from my earliest days and throughout my childhood, and the inspiration that comes from deeply connecting with a book has happened so often and from such tender years that it's really difficult to be selective.

Betty Smith's A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women were the first novels I read as a girl that I recall truly wishing I'd written. In fifth grade, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders had me seething with jealous inspiration when I found out she'd written it when she was in high school. JRR Tolkein, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, Phillipa Pearce were among the fabulous fantasists that expanded my early understanding of where and how far from home books could take me.

The epic scope, rich historical detail and majesty of TH White's The Once and Future King, the passion of the Bronte sisters, and the vivid characterization, social conscience and storytelling of Charles Dickens all inspired my adoration of British literature, history and Britain itself. Both my first and second novel take place in the United Kingdom. Vladimir Nabakov's Lolita and Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man rocked my world for their extraordinary styles and their unique approaches to narrative and structure.

Yikes, I guess that's a bit long... I couldn't help it! And even this list excludes so many, including all the poets... John Keats, William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, Walt Whitman-- and good God, Shakespeare!!

11-01-2012, 08:54 PM
My response to the OP is probably kind of odd.

Generally, when I read good books, I don't get inspired. The opposite - I get discouraged. I think, "Man, I can never write something this good." It could be a good book with:

1. A great story (I can't match the imagination)
2. Interesting information (I can't match the knowledge)
3. Great prose (I can't match the command of language)

However, when I read something that is successful and it is bad, I get encouraged. It makes me feel, "I can write better than this!"

After racking my brain, I think the only author who is good and somewhat inspirational to me is Philip K. Dick. I really like his original, odd ideas. It makes me want to come up with something cool too. But so far I've failed. I just don't have his creative mind. So I feel bummed. It's a double edged sword.

Al Stevens
11-01-2012, 10:22 PM
Bill Mauldin. I was drawn first as a teenager to his editorial cartoons from WWII. I was an aspiring cartoonist. Then my Mom got one of his autobiographical books, A Sort of a Saga, which, of course, he illustrated. I read it and became an aspiring writer.

11-01-2012, 11:29 PM
Not to start any kind of flame war or put anyone down, but I find the answers that say "well no one inspired me, I just like to write" a bit disingenious to the question posed. As King puts it in On Writing "If you want to write, read" (Bloo's paraphrase). I'm not saying that you don't read, so please don't take this as such, but I think we all have a few authors that inspire us to provide better (i.e. this is so bad I know I can do better [to me that's Christopher Paloni]), or to be better writers(i.e. I want to write like this person, this is who I want to be when I grow up to be a writer.) I think as writers (or at least novelists, or whatever) we should read authors who will teach us. I learned to love to read from "Franklin W. Dixon" and "his" Hardy Boys books, Nancy Drew, and Encyclopedia Brown. As I grew up, so did my tastes as a reader. In late elementary school and Junior high, it was Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas, Dickens, and Twain. In high school and college it was King, Grisham, Leonard, Clancy and MacDonald. Later it was F. Scott and Ernest. Last spring and this fall as I reentered college and studied literature, I started reading a lot of Kate Chopin, rereading Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, Austen, the Shelly's, and Byron.

I think all writers SHOULD stand on the shoulders of those that came before and that's why I love this post. I learned how to write dialogue from Elmore Leonard and Gregory MacDonald. I learned plotting from King (and how to end a book thanks to his many "non-endings"). From Grisham, I learned the importance of setting and writing about where you know and love.

I cite these authors because they were who I was reading when I really decided to take writing seriously. I had always played around with writing prior to them, writing Encylopedia Brown and Hardy Boys style mysteries, but to me that was fun, nothing to take seirously. But when I started taking things seriously MacDonald, Leonard, King, and Grisham are who I looked to, in turn they learned from those who came before them and those who came before them.

Wow this turned out a lot different then I intended, I really just meant to come on here and say Gregory MacDonald and Elmore Leonard.

11-02-2012, 02:19 AM
My first thought was Tamora Pierce, namely because some of my first serious writing was heavily influenced by her series. Of course, if I want to go back to my little kid writing, I guess you could say the guy who wrote the Redwall series (Brian Jacques? Spelling?) also had an initial influence. But really... it was probably a lot of writers combined.

CJ Knightrey
11-02-2012, 02:33 AM
It was actually a really good friend of mine in grade six that started me writing. I wasn't much of a reader let alone writer then, but I always played make believe and role playing games (elves vs demons anyone?). So on the rainy days that we had to stay inside for recess and couldn't run around and play our games, she suggested that we write about it instead. That was the start to the first story I ever (co)wrote, and I haven't turned back since.

11-03-2012, 05:37 AM
When I was about ten, I read an interview with Judy Blume. I'd always loved her 'Fudge' books, and when she mentioned that she'd spent her summer vacations as a kid just coming up with stories by herself I realized I'd done that for years, and maybe I had the potential to be an author too.

11-03-2012, 08:20 AM
I started reading when I was four and even before that I dragged towers of books over to any willing adult. I would listen to stories until their throats went hoarse. Stories have always been my first love, and I don't remember a time before I wanted to be a writer. However, I do know that a collection titled Fairy Tales of Sweden, as well as The Lord of the Rings and the Myst games are what drew me to fantasy. The idea of creating a story so interlaced with ideals and set in a world that would allow me to explore anything I could possibly conceive was too seductive to resist.

11-04-2012, 04:12 PM
The amount of work Tolkein put into his world of middle earth is what inspired me.
The appendices in the back of return of the king, the silmarillion it just shows how much thought he put into it. It was this partnered with music that made me start writing.

Manuel Royal
11-04-2012, 05:00 PM
Let's see, it's been about forty years since I started thinking about being a writer. If there was a single author who inspired me in that direction, it might have been Isaac Asimov.

11-05-2012, 05:57 AM
Stephen King. His On Writing kind of helped demystify the craft and get me thinking, "Maybe I can do it."

11-05-2012, 08:51 PM
I've literally been reading and writing since before I started school. It drove my early teachers mad, having one kid needing way more advanced books than any of the others. My inspirations for writing were always the books I was reading, so I started out writing my own children's early readers and then moved on to emulating Alistair McLean and Desmond Bagley.

When I started high school there was suddenly a much bigger library available. The primary schools I went to were all quite small, but high school had all this amazing stuff I'd never seen before. There was science fiction and fantasy! This was the book equivalent of letting a kid loose in the sweet aisle and saying 'go nuts'. My writing style shifted from action to a blending of sci-fi and fantasy, influenced by Douglas Adams, David Eddings, Isobelle Carmody and a bunch of others I wish I could still name.

In terms of what I write now, I'd have to say my biggest inspiration was Isobelle Carmody. That blending of "we know it's sci-fi but the characters all act like it's fantasy" is my favourite place to be.

11-10-2012, 02:11 PM
Gene Roddenberry

As a child, I developed an interest in Star Trek, which led me to create my own stories using Star Trek Micro Machines that I collected. One day, I decided to write these stories.

I still write science fiction. Over the years, my writing was refined with the help of J. Michael Straczynski and Anne McCaffrey.

11-10-2012, 05:43 PM
Also an Ann M. Martin person. I was a precocious reader, so BSC was my obsession in Kindergarten and first grade.

We had the gift of an assignment to write a Young Author book every year in school as a final project. After second grade, I realized that my teacher wouldn't make me draw pictures, which I'm terrible at, if I filled the whole page with words, so I started writing what were essentially long short stories to fill the little books. My first books followed Martin's style--a series of characters in an intermingled world, each of whom narrated a book in first person. I wrote 5 in total, and even wrote a "super special" with switching POVs when I was 13.

I slowly broke away from that style and really taught myself to write, but it was a great start. The really funny thing, looking back on it, is that after decades of writing my own stuff and even publishing some of my short stuff, I got into writing fan fiction, which I really enjoyed for a few years. But back when I was little, it never occurred to me to actually write about Kristy, Claudia, et. al...I made up my own characters but copied Martin's style.

Edited to add: Just wanted to express my delight at a great question! It's fun reading everyone's answers.

Chris P
11-10-2012, 06:13 PM
I've had favorite writers since I started reading, and I've always wanted to write, but it wasn't until my late teens when I discovered Vonnegut that I said "That's it! THAT'S how I want to write!"

Since then, I've taken a lot of hints from Dennis L McKiernan (although I don't write fantasy) and more recently Dave Eggers and Tom Perotta.

11-17-2012, 09:39 AM
Who actually motivated pen to paper was Oscar Wilde- he showed me writing could be fun and witty while telling an incredible story with the power to break hearts.

When I wrote silly stories as a kid- the Amelia Bedelia books did it. :)

11-19-2012, 04:51 AM
I've always written, as soon as I knew how. I love to read, but I don't think any individual writer influenced me into writing. I draw a lot of inspiration from my writing heroes, of course. Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and less well known authors, of course. I think whenever I see a particularly clever phrase or well-written scene I just fill up with the desire to do the same.

11-19-2012, 08:54 AM
I spent a lot of time in the library as a child, but was particularly moved by the books from Beatrix Potter. I must have read her biography in the back of a book or somewhere, but her life, writing about Peter Rabbit in letters to a child sounded magical to me.

I was also inspired by Uncle Remus and his tales of Brer Rabbit. I must have had a different mind as a child, because I tried to read them again as an adult and found them incomprehensible.

Rabbits seem to be a theme for me, because as I got older, I found inspiration in Alice in Wonderland. I must have read it a dozen times. Again, after reading it as an adult, it was a different experience.

Whenever I see a rabbit, I pay attention. I have never written a story about a rabbit though, although I started out trying to write picture books.

11-19-2012, 09:01 AM
Mostly books that didn't go the way I thought they needed to go. Lol! But also L.J. Smith (90s L.J. Smith). I used to love her writing. Her books are what really got me into fantasy and that's when my writing really took off. Before that, I wrote ghost stories and chick lit. Which I like just fine, it's just not what excites me at the end of the day.

11-19-2012, 11:37 PM
I was probably 12 and I was in the bookstore, but I wasn't in my usually area. Prior to this day, my reading consisted of The Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins and those television type adaptations for kids about Lassie or Fury.

So I was wandering around and the cover of this book caught my eye. This dark haired wild man perched upon a hill of dead people with this scantily clad woman at his feet. What the hell? I picked it up and it was "Conan the Adventure" by Robert E Howard. I also noticed a novel about a Character I loved watching from movies on Sunday afternoons: Tarzan. So I went home that day with "Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

These two books amazed and astonished me. I had no idea this kind of writing was out there. Real adventure! people dying! Action! I was hooked. And because if those two books I became a voracious reader of spec fiction. Bu more that that, the writing made me think, "this is what I want to do! Tell stories that entertain!" So it wasn't long after reading these two books that I also started writing.

11-21-2012, 08:10 PM
Tolkien and, of all people, Beverly Cleary (The Mouse and the Motorcycle). I don't know how many times I've read them. Of course, I haven't read the Mouse and the Motorcycle since my boys were babies! :) Good memories....