Top Ten Influential Authors

I was the type of kid who would go to the school library every day, pick out a book, read it in a night, and be back the next day for a new book.  Throughout my formative years, I devoured a healthy diet of sci-fi and fantasy. There are certain authors I go back to, time and time again, these are top ten authors from my youth who influenced my writing.

10. Anne McCaffrey

Long before How to Train your Dragon, the Dragonriders of Pern definitely dominated as the quintessential work on riding dragons.  It's no surprise McCaffrey is regarded as a grand master of science fiction.  The world is certainly at a loss from her passing.

9.  Tamora Pierce

Circle of Magic Trilogy, is a series of young magic users learning to control their powers.  This series was published before Harry Potter was released in the US.  The mages in this book series have a certain elemental focus to their magic manifestations, which was definitely in the back of my mind as I developed the mechanics of magic in Centernia.

8. Stephen King

I remembered standing by the pool in my backyard when my friend Stephanie brought a copy of Carrie to my house.  My mom told her that it was inappropriate for en eleven-year-old and I was absolutely not permitted to borrow the book. Of course, that made me want to read the book even more.  It took several months of pestering before I was allowed to read Carrie, which though an awesome read, I hardly thought was worth the ban. Subsequently, I read through all the dark, gritty Stephen King classics.

7. Tanith Lee

I'll admit, there's only one book of Tanith Lee's that really stands out in my memory, The Silver Metal Lover.  It's a tale of ill-fated romance in a slightly dystopian society and features attractive musicians...and robots.

6. Anne Rice

Vampires, before they sparkled.

5. Bruce Coville

Hailing from my hometown of Syracuse, Bruce Coville is an amazing story teller.  His books range from sci-fi to fantasy.  Though the target audience is children and YA, I can still re-read his books and get pulled into the rich worlds.

4. Marguerite Henry

In third grade I hit the horse-crazy age, even though I had never ridden and had no hope of ever going riding ('too expensive!'  'too dangerous!'), I convinced my parents to order the Misty of Chincoteague series from Scholastic book order.  The story centers around a wholesome family as they raise Misty, a wild pony from Assateague Island, Virginia.  This book series has a similar feel to classics such as Black Beauty and Where the Red Fern Grows.  

3. Kevin J. Anderson, Timothy Zahn, Roger MacBride Allen, Barbara Hambly, Kathy Tyers...and just about every other author who penned a book in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Star Wars was the series that taught me that you can have a ridiculously rich and detailed universe that never stops growing.

2.  Wendy and Richard Pini

When I was about nine years old, I remember standing in my neighbor's driveway on a summer afternoon.  My friend Paul had an older brother who was a teenager and owned a car. On this particular sunny day, his brother opened the trunk of his beat-up sedan, revealing a mountain of comics. He let each of the neighborhood kids pick a comic, for free.  I took two titles, Thundercats, and this interesting looking comic called Elfquest.  Though I thought the Thundercats was really cool, I had no idea how amazing Elquest would be.

Wendy and Richard Pini are the force behind Elfquest. These two self-published comic creators made a series regarded as unmarketable in the mid-70s.  Rejected by the publishing giants, the Pinis founded WaRP graphics and brought their elaborate world of the wolfriders to life.  In the decades later, DC, Marvel and Darkhorse would all come courting at the Pinis' door.  I admire the Pinis as artists, worldbuilders, and self-starters who didn't seem to worry too much about established norms. They had a rich story to tell, and they told it no matter who listened.

1. Mercedes Lackey

My friend Maria handed me The Last Herald Mage in high school and pretty much ordered me to read it.  She said Centernia was really similar to the style of world and I would like it.  Since that time, Mercedes Lackey has been my go-to author whenever I need a book guaranteed to be a good read.  I think I learned a great deal of character depth from Lackey.  She excels at portraying a beautiful realism to her magic users, locking them into a constant struggle. Also, her Valdemar series features magical telepathic white horses, so it's really a double-win.


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