We asked 10 authors “What author has inspired you the most as a writer and how have they impacted you?” They share their answers with us below…
MAGGIE BRENDAN: Not many writers can say the author who most inspired them and impacted them was their brother. But I can. I wrote stories as a child but years later, my brother, Jess McCreede, inspired me to complete my manuscript, a historical set in Colorado because he said he was impressed with my writing style. Jess had published numerous westerns with Pinnacle and a hardcover with Affliated Writers of America, so I took him at his word. He pointed out that I needed to work on POV and gave me an exercise to do with a highlighter, using a chapter of my story to mark every POV change until I understood the concept. At his advice I purchased Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. The book taught me scene and sequel as well. I doubt I would have continued writing without his encouragement as mentor, advisor and reader. Jess suddenly passed away in 2004 and I dedicated my first book to him, No Place for a Lady.
ELIZABETH LUDWIG: I’ll never forget the first time I opened a book by Francine Rivers. It was The Last Sin Eater, and it changed the way I looked at Christian fiction. Before that point, I had been completely engrossed with writing a good book—one that was technically perfect and told a good story. If I could also weave in the gospel, so much the better. After reading Francine’s book, I realized that I needed to write the gospel and weave in a good story. It has made all the difference.
LISA HARRIS: The first name that came to mind was Lena Nelson Dooley. Many years ago, when I lived in Dallas, I began attending a crit group with a couple friends. I remember the first time I went to Lena’s home. I was so nervous to share what I had written. While there were many words of encouragement spoken, I was told exactly what I needed to hear. The characters were flat, and I needed to go home and totally rewrite the chapter. And I did. I kept learning and writing, and growing as an author. Lena became my mentor and encourager, along with the other women in that group at the time. I’ll always be grateful for those weekly meetings and what they taught me as a newbie writer!
MARTA PERRY: Some years ago, when my children were small, we began reading the Narnia books together. The children loved the stories, of course, but I was absolutely blown away. C.S. Lewis created an entire world with his words, and he delivered a message of faith without ever saying a word about religion. From the Narnia books, I went on to the science fiction trilogy. Then I began reading the rest of his books, starting with Mere Christianity, and now I’m re-reading, again and again. I’m never disappointed. Once in a great while, a reader finds an author with whom he or she is completely in tune. That is such a magical experience, and it’s what every writer hopes for with each book. As one of my colleagues put it, “I want to be someone’s Jane Austen, someone’s Nora Roberts, someone’s very favorite author.” That’s what I found in C.S. Lewis. That’s what I hope someone finds in my books.
DIANN MILLS: Jerry B. Jenkins has taught me more about writing than any profession in the industry. His dynamic instruction, professional conferences, courses for every level of writer, and continued encouragement have challenged me to daily sharpen my tools of the craft while passing on what I’ve learned to serious writers. Jerry is my writing hero!
KIM VOGEL SAWYER: I am a lifelong reader, and many authors have spoken to my heart or inspired me in a variety of ways, but one in particular deeply impacted me. Her name is Janette Oke. When I read the final pages of Love Comes Softly as an impressionable 18-year-old with a dream of writing someday, a desire grew in the center of my being to write that kind of story—the kind with characters that linger in the reader’s heart after the tale is finished, the kind that paints a pathway to a deeper relationship with God, the kind that does more than entertain but also edifies. A few years ago I had the privilege of hearing Mrs. Oke speak, and she referred to her characters as paper missionaries, able to go places she couldn’t, carrying the message of Christ’s love. Those words inspired me anew to always stay in touch with the One who planted my desire to write and to share HIM through the pages of my novels.
CATHY GOHLKE: Lucy Maud Montgomery and Jan Karon have long inspired me for their rich characterization and natural dialogue. I expect to meet Gilbert and Anne one evening as they stroll ’round the pond, or bump into Father Tim and Uncle Billy some morning on the post office steps. I’d know them anywhere. Both writers have set this plumb line for my writing: Are my characters rich and real and interesting? Do they seem like someone I might meet, and if I did, would I know them the moment they spoke? Will readers feel the same?
JAMES L. RUBART: Dead: C.S. Lewis. Took me to worlds when I was 11 I didn’t know books could take me to. The Chronicles of Narnia made me want to try doing for others what Lewis did for me. Living: Ted Dekker. Huge inspiration, allowed me to dream I could someday do what he was doing. Showed me the kind of stories I wanted to write were possible and that there was an audience for them.
TRACIE PETERSON: Surprisingly enough, Tom Clancy has had a huge impact on my writing. I loved reading his books for the sheer wonder of him having several plots going on at the same time with each seeming equally important, only to find at the end that they all intersected into one over-arching plot. Now granted, most great novels have sub-plots that move throughout the main plot, but the way Clancy does it makes it seem like each plot is the main plot and yet all the time, he’s weaving them into a story that is so much more than one plot. I wanted to learn to do that as well, and so I just kept re-reading his books to teach myself how to do that.
SARAH SUNDIN: Many authors have influenced me, but Lauraine Snelling has had a profound impact. First, she is a gifted writer with a warm style, realistic characters, and a respect for history. Second, she’s an excellent teacher who showed me how to develop plot and character, even how to organize materials. Third, she has impressed me over the years with her generosity and care—for her fellow authors, for needy newbies (like I was!), and most of all for her readers. She is as warm, funny and genuine in person as she is in her stories. I’m blessed to know her.