The top authors who inspired me to write when I first got started:
- J.R.R Tolkien: I love how he created stories, developed worlds and cultures. As a linguist, he had a fine understanding of not only language, but culture itself. I am still in awe that he created a language. It’s quite a bit tougher than it sounds. My own efforts in that direction were never all that successful beyond words and concepts.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley: Her Darkover series is a masterful creation of a culture, which she then pits against humans in culture clash. Although the series became darker than I tend to like to read, she has had a considerable impact on my writing and my story building over the years. I voraciously read any Darkover novels I could get my hands on.
- Julian May: Her Pliocene Exile and Galactic Milieu series were incredibly intricate, interwoven through six million years of history. Each character (and there were a large number of them, long before George R. R. Martin appeared on the scene with large numbers of disposable characters) was meticulously drawn, down to the sub characters and characters who appeared only for several arcs in the story, then disappeared. Even after reading that series more times than I can count, I could never manage to find any holes or consistency errors. That intricacy and interconnectedness of the story has always been something I’ve aspired to.
- Katherine Kurtz: Deryni series. Historical novels set in an alternate past England-ish. I adored this series when I was a teenager. She followed several characters in different story “arcs”, offering clash between humans and humans with “extra” psychic abilities, something that inspired me and made me realize you didn’t need to follow one set of characters to keep a story interesting. As I’ve read more about the actual Earth history of the region, the attention to detail, the historical and political accuracies always made that series feel so realistic, and is something I’ve always wanted to reach toward. I want you to think you could meet my characters walking down the street, or I wouldn’t have done my job as an author.
- Jennifer Roberson: Chronicles of the Cheysuli. This series made me more interested in dynasties (as did my endless fascination with English and French aristocracy). Although this series got rather darker than I liked, it definitely left an impact on my writing and the dynasties I created in my culture.
By the time I was in college, much of my writing style and story was formed and the authors I read, while quite enjoyable, were no longer as influential on my writing. They still inspire me now, though, and there is nothing more I love than a series that gets my creative muse whispering in my ear.