View Full Version : Books that made you want to become a writer

02-19-2007, 11:05 PM
For me it was Treasure Island, which I read when I was about eight, Lord of the Rings, which I read when I was about ten or eleven, and Cry, The Beloved Country, which I first read when I was fourteen. Later there was Lucky Jim and The Sun Also Rises and a host of other books I encountered in university, but the seed was already planted by that time.

These were books I found so wonderful that I asked myself whether I could do it too.

Anyone else remember a book or books that inspired them to become a writer?

02-19-2007, 11:14 PM
What a great idea for a thread.

I don't know what book it was. It was a mixture, I guess. My childhood was absolutely inundated with books, books, and more books. And when they weren't books, I was learning the value of a decent story told in a movie, or on television, or in theater. So it's hard to pinpoint.

I can remember the first books that floored me, that really just knocked me off my feet (A Stitch in Time) and I can remember the first book that I pointed to and said "I want to write THAT. I want to do THAT for a living." (it was, ironically enough, a Star Trek series of stories summarizing the original series' three seasons, by James Blish. I have the volumes around here somewhere, slowly turning into pulp.)

aka eraser
02-19-2007, 11:20 PM
It wasn't a particular book or books that made me want to become a writer -- seems to me I'd always wanted to be one. But the writer I wanted to be was J.P. Donleavy. The man can make words dance and paint and tickle.

Nope, didn't make it. Not even close. But he inspired me to get as far as I have.

02-19-2007, 11:24 PM
When I was younger, I always really wanted to be A.C. Crispin. I thought he was such a cool guy.

Sheesh. :e2hammer:

02-19-2007, 11:40 PM
I can't remember not wanting to write. My mom still has stories I wrote before I knew how to write them in cursive, so it's hard for me to say what started the whole mess. I do know that feeling, though, of closing a book and thinking, "That was glorious. I could never be good enough to do that. I have to do that."

What's terrible is that the first time I recall thinking that was with a book whose title I no longer remember. I was a staunch conservative Limbaugh-worshipping teenager and about as far from a tree-hugger as you could get, but I stayed up hours past my parent-enforced bedtime to finish this book in bed. When I closed it, I found myself weeping over the demise of a tree that got cut down by evil loggers. I had just enough self-awareness to realize that this book had made me sympathize with a cause I didn't remotely support. So, once the tears dried, I was blown away suddenly, not by a sudden conversion to tree conservation, but by the idea that an author could move someone else so profoundly using mere words.

If study, hard work, and perserverance can allow me to do that, I'll keep trying because I have to do that.

Azure Skye
02-20-2007, 12:18 AM
Anne of Green Gables

02-20-2007, 12:21 AM
I can't remember a time I didn't want to write, either.

But if we're talking about books which made childhood magical, there's only one for me - C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

02-20-2007, 12:24 AM
But the writer I wanted to be was J.P. Donleavy. The man can make words dance and paint and tickle.

Nope, didn't make it. Not even close. But he inspired me to get as far as I have.

I love JP Donleavy's books. Dance and paint and tickle, indeed.

02-20-2007, 12:27 AM
I always wanted to write, it was just those above books that gave me direction on what I could do with writing.

02-20-2007, 12:36 AM
These were books I found so wonderful that I asked myself whether I could do it too....Anyone else remember a book or books that inspired them to become a writer?

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. I found the paperback on the shelf of the bookstore that employed me at the time, and read it in about a day. I realized then that I wanted to make readers feel the way that book made me feel, to draw in a reader as I had been.

Cav Guy
02-20-2007, 12:40 AM
The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming. Not what most consider high literature, but he painted such vivid pictures. I first read it when I was eight or nine, and that got me started.

02-20-2007, 01:27 AM
I have no idea if I ever wanted to write when I was young. I have no memories of it, other than the typical stuff, like writing a Safety Poster in class. I was very disappointed when I submitted mine, "Don't walk from between parked cars, or you'll get some mars" and the teacher said, "kids might think they'll get a candy bar."

Thanks for squelching my creativity.

And I remember having a toy printing press. You had these metal bars in which you'd insert backward rubber letters to make your sentences. Then these bars were placed on the press and you could create newsletters by turning it. I think I had my own newspaper.

But wanting to write? Having the desire to be a writer? That didn't come until I read my first Tarzan and Conan books. When I read those it was like handing me the key to a door that had been hidden from me all my life, a door that opened upon this vast wonderful new world of heroic adventure. And that's when I thought, "hey, this is what I want to do."

02-20-2007, 01:31 AM
Mein gott, I had one of those printing presses. I made such a mess with it. And I put out....stories. And tried to sell them to people for a quarter each.

02-20-2007, 02:15 AM
Yup. The Chronicles of Narnia and Anne of Green Gables did it for me too. I know they weren't the first books I ever read, but they are the first ones I remember reading and at that point I wanted to be a writer.

It's taken me a long time to get there. Well, technically, I'm not sure I'm there yet, but at least now I'm making an effort.

02-20-2007, 02:37 AM
I can't pinpoint exactly what made me want to write, but I think it was a decision being subconsciously made over a period of years. I didn't like math and science required math.

The first time I ever consciously decided I wanted to write was when I was about 12 or 13. But I had been writing stories since I was about eight or nine. After I made that first conscious decision to write, I quit hating school so much and decided if nothing else I was going to keep my English and History grades up.

02-20-2007, 03:02 AM
Huck Finn, Mark Twain
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
The October Country, Ray Bradbury


02-20-2007, 03:51 AM
Sometime in college I wanted to write SF, as I was reading a lot of it, and for the first time the idea of writing fiction was something I seriously considered. Asimov occasionally wrote about writing in his editorials in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (now just ASF, and R.I.P. IA), and Heinlein told of writing and selling (!) his Very First Story "Lifeline" in his book of essays and short stories "Expanded Universe" (and likewise R.I.P. RAH). But I think I knew even back then that it was very unusual (!) for an author to sell the very first story he writes and submits.

The next book to give me the idea of writing was "The Bridge Across Forever" which I read years later, and I described in this thread shortly after I found the AW Water Cooler, here:
After over two months and four FF challenge pieces later, I'm still here, so maybe there's some promise.

The Scip
02-20-2007, 04:06 AM
When I was much younger it was comic books and anything by John Bellairs

02-20-2007, 04:21 AM
It was a book of my mom's and when she caught me reading it, I was in BIG trouble... of course I found and finished it: The book Sybil written by Flora Rheta Schreiber was so graphically there for me at age 12.
I wanted to be able to give shivers to readers as she did to me. Still do.

02-20-2007, 04:24 AM
There have been many books which compel me to write, but none more so than the book I just finished.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion


02-20-2007, 04:26 AM
I always loved to read, but the book that made me want to write was A Wrinkle In Time

02-20-2007, 04:56 AM
The book Inkheart made me really want to become an author. Mainly because the idea of something I've written coming to life just struck me as the most amazing thing in the world. That someday maybe people will fall in love with one of my stories and just not be able to put it down.

C.J. Rockwell
02-20-2007, 04:57 AM
This is a great topic, I wish I'd thought of it.

I was a bit of a picky reader growing up, and it wasn't until I started reading the Harry Potter books that I realized how powerful and fun books can be. Say what you will of her adverb use, etc. J.K. Rowling knows how to tell a story, and while I was always writing, it was reading her books that made me want to share stories with others too.

Aside from the Harry Potter series, my other favorites include A Rat's Tale by Tor Seidler, The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens, Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, and Blondes have more Felons by Alesia Holliday.

There are many more, but these are some of my top picks.

02-20-2007, 05:24 AM
There was no book that made me want to be a writer, but I do clearly remember the first book that taught me how powerful fiction can be. It was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. There was blood on the deck of the Nautilus, and I almost jumped out of my seat when I realized I actually smelled the blood.

02-20-2007, 06:31 AM
It wasn't a book...it was a story in my head that drove me crazy until I put it on paper.

02-20-2007, 08:30 AM
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wanted to write like that, I wanted to make people feel the way she made me felt. I read it for the first time in the second grade. That same year, I also read the book "The Pinballs" by Betsy Byars. I loved that book so much I wrote a continuation, sort of fan fiction, even if I didn't know what it was. I also loved The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom and the Betsy, Tacy and Tib books by Maud Hart Lovelace. This was all second grade. I knew from then on I wanted to be a writer.

02-20-2007, 08:43 AM
Oh, Poul Anderson's Virgin Planet just knocked me over--my first SF novel ever. Ice Rigger by Alan Dean Foster--wow, yum

And I''ve always, don't know why, remembered very fondly, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, by Spielberg. And I thought that if he could write something like that for a first book, then I could too.

Everything after that was icing, and away I went.

02-20-2007, 08:49 AM
Clockwork Orange. . .

and anything by michael chabon. . . .

02-21-2007, 07:48 AM
Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale.

I can't read his nonfiction, but his novels ... Good Lord, to be able to do that for five minutes would be the best thing ever.


04-14-2012, 03:03 PM
I was think about this the morning, and thought I would resurrect the thread. :)

Okay for me, the book that started my writing was The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner.

But I would also add that Eagle of the Ninth had just as an important influence on my writing.

04-14-2012, 03:59 PM
I'm glad you brought it back. :)

For me, I always loved to read. Some of my favorite memories are of the times my parents read to my sister and I when we were little.

But what really did it was the first Simpson's Treehouse of Horror episode. (I was 12 years old at the time.) They did a segment on Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, and it really stuck with me. I then went out and read every story and poem of his I could find. I spent years wishing I could write like him.

Ginger Writer
04-14-2012, 07:17 PM
I always loved to write. But Charlotte's Web at 6, Harry Potter at 9, The Two Princesses of Bamarre at something like 11/12, and Stephen King's Desperation at 14 really inspired me and have stayed with me all these years.

04-14-2012, 07:44 PM
Someone else mentioned it way back in 2007(!). C.S. Lewis Narnia series. As a pre-teen, I remember composing little stories within similar worlds.

Also at a similar age - The Hobbit. And I remember thinking that when I grew up and wrote books, I wouldn't put in any of the boring stuff (like Beorn the Hunter) :tongue

04-14-2012, 07:49 PM
Thinking back to earlier years, I know she's horribly out of fashion for good reason, but I've got to give props to Enid Blyton. I remember reading a Famous Five novel that had been poorly published - it had blank pages in the middle. With my best handwriting I painstakingly wrote the "lost" paragraphs. Lashings and lashings of ginger ale, eh?

04-14-2012, 08:38 PM
My family didn't have lots of books growing up. Although my family didn't read, there was a lot of story telling. Celtic stories, stories about the little folk and banshees. My dad was from the countryside. When I was four(the day before I started school) we moved a house about 50 or 60 meters from where Bram Stoker was born, so of course my older brothers took an interest in horror and scaring the life out of me.

The first book I remember picking up myself was Snow White and my next significant read a few years later was The Silver Sword at 9. After that I read all the time. I think I was always a story teller and a writer for fun from young age but deciding to become an author came much later.

04-14-2012, 08:59 PM
Harry Potter Series and The Long Hard Road Out of Hell. Its hard for me to say which one inspired me the most.

04-14-2012, 09:00 PM
I read loads growing up, but always non-fiction. My dad would always try to get me into it but I was all "what's the point in reading fiction? It isn't real, so what a waste of time! I could be learning facts." I'd always buy facts books and read through those, so I knew way more random bits of info than the average 8-or-so-year old.

Then one day I just decided to read this old fantasy novel we had lying around. I can't remember anything about it, except that it was very long and there was a bit about a wizard's tower (narrows it down, I know). I just read it because it looked pretty lonely, and I'd no idea how it got into my house as my parents never read any fantasy (my dad was into horror and classics, my mother romance/literary and classics.) I must have been about 11 then.

After that I started on my dad's Stephen King collection and must have read the lot by the time I was 14. When I finished all those I read some Clive Barker, which were great, and when I ran out of those Chuck Palahniuk...who I didn't think was very good, but I'd run out of other horror stories by then.

I also read some Tom Clancy because my best friend at the time came from a very military family and they were big fans. I read Rainbow Six and thought it was ok, but got a bit same-y after a while.

Then I got a bit more serious, and started to read Philosophy books alongside some more famous titles. Catch-22 was a mindblower for me, I fucking loved it! I tried Charles Dickens but didn't get into it as much as my dad. I read Gothic horror, such as Frankenstein and Dracula, but sadly found them very boring. I made a point of seeing Shakespeare plays. Other big and little names that made an impact on me in my late teens were Melville, McEwan, Coetzee, Murakami (although I read it initially to impress this girl I liked. It worked ;), good story too though), Dostoyevsky (The Idiot was simply brilliant, there's a scene in it I'll always remember), O'Brien (The Things They Carried may take top spot as my most favourite book of all time), Mishima, Koestler, Huxley, Orwell and Pirsig. It was around about the time of Catch-22 that I did my first bits of creative writing, poetry and short stories, but then stopped again.

In the last few years I've read all of Chekhov's short stories and personal letters for a dissertation, and continued on to Camus. Now, that I have a bit more time, I've done some writing again :)

Drachen Jager
04-14-2012, 09:55 PM
I was always inspired to be a writer, but most of the books I read seemed impossible for me to write. It was only when I'd read a few bad, but very commercially successful, middle-grade books to my son that I thought, "Hell, I can do better than that!"

So I won't share the titles, because I don't like slagging other authors online. Suffice to say, the one that really got me going was turned into a successful movie franchise a few years back (and no, it's not Twilight).

I found it interesting reading Stephen King's, On Writing, where he talks about a similar incident starting his career (and he feels most other writers started that way as well).

04-14-2012, 10:21 PM
Goosebumps by RL Stine
Remember Me by Christopher Pike
Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

But I read EVERYTHING. Used to go to garage sales and by a dozen books a week and read them all.

I loved books and always wanted to write one myself.

Justin SR
04-15-2012, 02:17 AM
I've always wanted to write, my mom pulled out a story I wrote when I was 5. It was pretty full of deus ex machina (I remember that the ending especially made me laugh. It went something like "And then some ninjas jumped out and beat up all the bad guys and everyone was happy the end").

But the books that actually kicked my ass into gear and made me write? Tolkien when I was a teenager and Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles as an adult.

04-16-2012, 01:06 AM
My elementary school had a little book publishing station in the library (this was in 1970) where you could make real-looking books with covers and I loved that and started using it as soon as I could write. My mom really encouraged me because she knew I love stories.

I read THE BOOK, a children's book, that inspired me to do this as a life-long obsession, when I was about eight or nine called The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House.

The MC is a total brat at first who got in trouble all the time - something maybe I could relate to. It featured a haunted mansion, time travel, the number seven, transfiguration, ghosts and portraits that moved and were real (she felt the silk of a dress in the portrait instead of canvas). Shades of the moving portraits in Harry Potter, except Wicked Ladies was written by Mary Chase in the 1960s.

I began writing stories based on the book, not knowing it was fan fiction (well, I was eight). I still love this book. And ghost stories. And I've been obsessed with writing ever since.

04-16-2012, 02:18 AM
Cliche as it is, Harry Potter. The imagination that went into that book just made me awestruck.

Sol Quince
04-16-2012, 04:13 AM
Wasn't really into reading tell I read the "Warriors" series by Erin Hunter...even since I wrote fan fictions and then started writing on my own stories :)

04-16-2012, 04:52 AM
Probably "the call of the wild" by Jack London, when I was a younger :)

04-16-2012, 07:20 AM
When I was really little I used to write what I think today would be called My Little Pony and Smurfs crossover self-insert AU fanfic?? Haha so no matter hard I try to deny that I've ever written fanfic, my 7-8 year old self is GUILTY!!!

I remember devouring A Little Princess and The Secret Garden over and over again when I was 10. The character in The Secret Garden was 10 too and I remember thinking to myself, 'I'm going to write a book about a 10 year old girl when I grow up and a 10 year old girl will read it and she will love my book just as much as I love these!' I also remember trying to find more Frances Hodgson Burnett books in my tiny library but there weren't any. later on I found The Making of a Marchioness and was like "Eww... What is this??"

04-16-2012, 07:25 AM
This book did :3...


04-16-2012, 07:28 AM
I read voraciously as a child and teen - everything from mom's trashy paperbacks to Tolkien to Marguerite Henry to cereal boxes. But the book that made me want to write was something by Truman Capote. I don't recall the book, or what it was about. All I remember is the way he wove words together that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. That was when I wanted to write.

I didn't actually start writing until about five years ago. It's going to be a long time before I get remotely near the likes of Capote.

04-16-2012, 07:48 AM
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It took me a couple months to finish it but when I was done I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to make people feel the way I felt after reading HP. There was just something so cool about being able to make up your own worlds and having people care about them. The feeling's still with me now and I honestly feel like I owe J.K. Rowling a lot. Who knows who I would be now if I hadn't fallen in love with her books?

Chasing the Horizon
04-16-2012, 09:14 AM
I was always inspired to be a writer, but most of the books I read seemed impossible for me to write. It was only when I'd read a few bad, but very commercially successful, middle-grade books to my son that I thought, "Hell, I can do better than that!"
This is how it was for me as well, except in my case it was terrible fan-fiction instead of terrible middle grade, lol. I figured even I could exceed the average quality of fan-fiction, and then was quite shocked to rediscover how much I enjoyed writing, and also that I wasn't quite as bad at it as I'd thought I was as a teenager (because, naturally, at the age of 12 I expected what I wrote to be of equal quality to Stephen King and ripped it up when it wasn't). I needed to set the bar low in the beginning to keep from getting frustrated, lol.

04-16-2012, 11:59 AM
No book ever made me want to be a writer. It took me a while to get into reading and start enjoying it. I started with Snoopy comic books. My Mum didn't like that it was all I would read but since she struggled so hard to teach me to read she was happy I was reading period. I didn't read anything else until middle high school when I started romance but it wasn't until Star Wars and Harry Potter I was really hooked. I started writing because I was lonely and bored and told myself stories to entertain myself and one day just started putting pen to paper.

04-16-2012, 07:29 PM
It's weird, it was a lack of books for me.
I never had anything I actually wanted to read, so I just wrote something of my own.

Maze Runner
04-17-2012, 01:53 AM
It's weird, it was a lack of books for me.
I never had anything I actually wanted to read, so I just wrote something of my own.

I think that can be powerful.

For me it was writers like McMurtry, Chabon, Mailer, Budd Schulberg, whose work showed me what words can evoke.

Storm Surge
04-19-2012, 12:58 AM
I don't think there was any one book that suddenly made me want to write but more of a string of them that led up to it. I do remember where it started though: with Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert Heinlein. My mom read it to me when I was little. It was my first taste of SF.

04-19-2012, 01:18 AM
I've kind of had a desire to write for a while, but it was particularly focused when I read books like Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Dan Ariely's Predictably irrational. I knew that I wanted to be a non-fiction writer of renown, and make people think about things; no matter the cost.

However, I would also say authors like Ray Bradbury always made me want to write fantasy/sci-fi. But that is not that strong of a desire.

04-19-2012, 01:45 AM
Watership Down. I must have been 8 or 9 and thought THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO WHEN I GROW UP.

04-19-2012, 01:58 AM
... since joining this site I've answered this question twice. Here goes number three, with the same answer:

Dostoevsky's, Crime & Punishment.

The protagonist, Raskalinkov was a writer. Axe murders aside, he seemed like a cool dude. He was an outcast, stayed to himself, and on top of that he was a writer who had gotten an essay published in some journal. So that seemed to me like a good thing to do. The writing; not the axe murders!

04-19-2012, 04:38 AM
I wanted to write ever since I was a child because my mother went through a major writing phase when I was young, and I wanted to be like her.

However, I distinctly remember that I found what I wanted to write about when I read The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. I wanted to write about princesses, dragons, and all the wonderful magic that made up the fantasy genre. While the book lost its magic for me as an adult, I still want to write.

04-20-2012, 01:06 AM
Little Women started it off for me - I realised when I read about Jo March that books didn't just spontaneously appear on the shelf - real people wrote them. Real people who might possibly be like me!
I vividly remember squatting by the 'R - S' shelf in the school library, looking at the Mary Renault and Rosemary Sutcliff books, and wishing with all my heart that I could write half as well as them! (I think I got my wish!)
Later, I discovered the Deryni books by Katherine Kurtz. I have a strong interest in medieval history, and here was the first fantasy I'd read which made the fantasy world read as if it was history. I wanted to do that.
So those are the main influences.

04-21-2012, 10:23 PM
Green Eggs and Ham, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, A Separate Peace and The Chrysalids.


04-23-2012, 10:21 PM
The Dungeons and Dragons player's handbook, 2nd edition.

My brothers and their friends used to play D&D, and sometimes they let me tag along if they were short. I wasn't very good at playing and they were terrible storytellers, but the idea of creating a whole world and having people actively engaged in it was deeply compelling to me. I must have read every D&D manual, cover to cover, at least a dozen times over each.

I began to create my own campaigns, but nobody would take me seriously since I was the "little brother." I was flat-out told that I could never do it, that I wasn't cut out for it, and that I'd just embarrass myself. The one time they let me DM they sabotaged the whole effort to show me that I can't handle it (cutting me off mid-sentence, turning on the TV, drinking malt liquor). Now that I think about it, I don't remember getting past the opening words "you arrive in the town of ..."

Creating a story that others would be able to enjoy has been my goal to this day. I guess that's also where I get my doubts from, that little voice that keeps saying I'll never be good enough and just embarrass myself if I submit my work. I'm slowly learning to get over that, so hopefully I'll work up the nerve to send my stuff in sometime soon.

04-23-2012, 10:41 PM
When I was young, it was some Nancy Drew book (I wrote my first book at 9- self-illustrated too, about a girl detective named Martha Newman).

In college, a defining moment. The Memory of Eva Ryker by Donald Stanwood-- the plot twists and turns were monumental, and the writing wasn't bad either. I was hooked. The cool thing? I wrote him a fan PM, and he's now one of my Facebook friends. Yay!

The last and most recent was Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. I did NOT want the book to end. I could see all the historical detail so lovingly drawn, and it inspired me to want to do the same. It was because of this book that I chose fictionalized bios for my oeuvre. The research, the language, the making someone actually believe that they are there, watching these actual events take place was the final puzzle piece in place for me.

04-23-2012, 10:49 PM
I loved books from the start - but I think the first one I read that I thought was magic might have been "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Other books ("Ballet Shoes" for instance) made me want to be whatever the MC was - but I think "The Secret Garden" might have been what I wished I could write. Perhaps because bad-tempered Mary struck a real chord...

04-23-2012, 11:45 PM
When it took almost an entire summer in junior high to finish The Stand by Stephen King (the long version), I put it down and dubbed it the 'coolest book ever'. It was the first novel that made me really wonder what writing that book was like for the author. Where did he start? What were his work habits? How did he bring it all together at the end without getting lost? Now, much to my chagrin, I get to answer those questions for myself.

04-23-2012, 11:51 PM
The Fear Street Series by R.L. Stine
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Tunnels of Time series by Mary Harelkin Bishop
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Pandora by Anne Rice
Misery by Stephen King
Homeland by R.A. Salvatore

Each one of these had their own unique way of setting fire under my skin urging me to write.

Off topic but sort of on topic, Dog City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_City) was probably one of the biggest motivators in making me want to write. Now that I think of it, the show was most likely the inspiration for my first "novel" idea. A detective on the hunt for a jewel theif...I know super original.:e2smack:

04-24-2012, 12:43 AM
Where the Sidewalk Ends