Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Influence

It's one of the most commonly asked questions during author interviews. "What novelists would you say influenced your own writing when you were growing up?" Most of the time the answers are comprised of the usual suspects, high profile writers who've sold oodles of books. For me it would be Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ed McBain, Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane, Pat Conroy, and many many more. But every now and then there are a few who make the list who...well let's just say they've flown under the radar.

There's another question that's asked in a lot in these interviews, and its "What was it that made you want to become a writer?" For me, the answer to that question is forever linked to the first.

I write because I love the feeling of seeing how my words/story affects others. I adore pulling at my readers heart-strings, making their heart race, forcing their hand to fly to their mouth in shock, or how they're unable to suppress a laugh in a quiet room. In my own small way, I am influencing them.

Some would say that influence can often lead to imitation (which could have easily been my I word today). Though it is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, I'm not trying to imitate the way that King, Koontz, McBain, Christie, Spillane or Conroy write. I'm trying to imitate the way they made me feel when I read their work. Every one of them held me hostage, manipulated my emotions, and left me the better for it. That is the nuts and bolts of why I write.

It's beyond my wildest dreams to become as influential as the writers above, and many others like them, but to be one of those authors who fly under the radar and possibly influence some other future writer? That would be a gift indeed.

Did you know that I'm running a contest over at my regular blog, Cruising Altitude 2.0? No? You can read all about it HERE, then you can hop right on over there.



Unknown said...

Great post! My own influences include King, C.S. Lewis, Harper Lee and J.D. Robb aka Nora Roberts.

Susan Scott said...

Lovely post thank you! Pat Conroy is the best - those South Carolina marshes .. (I live in South Africa and have a dream to visit these marshes).
This was a lovely post thank you and you hit the nail on the head when you say it matters as to how the writer makes you feel.
I think that writing for me means sharing stories that have value and thinking about things in a way differently to how one may 'usually' feel.
Susan Scott's Soul Stuff

Alternative Foodie said...

For me she has always been Pearl S Buck (Sai Zhenzhu), her "Good Earth" alone has great influence in shaping the way I process my thought.Not in a million years that I could ever write like her, yet writing is becoming like a meditation for me. A good place to be.

Very apt choice for I, Hammons. Congrat.

Anonymous said...

My influences for writing poetry is my family and places I have visited,


DL Hammons said...

@Melissa - Excellent authors all!

@Susan - The Great Santani was one of my favorite books growing up!

@Foodie - Thank you.

@Yvonne - No better inspiration!

Jolie du Pre said...

Toni Morrison and Alice Walker

Julie Jordan Scott said...

What a great post. I enjoy the idea of thinking about how you make your readers FEEL and taking that into your writing (and your reading!)

I am influenced not by novelists as much as non-fiction writers and poets and the occasional triple threat, non-fiction & poet & novelist writing artist.

I love Alice Walker - who fits that bill. I love Mary Oliver and Natalie Goldberg, Diane Ackerman.

I love Denise Levertov. May Sarton. Anne Lamott.

Thank you for an evocative post to start my day!

Happy A to Z-ing!
Julie Jordan Scott
Our Literary Grannies from A to Z:I is for Isabelle Eberhardt
tweet me - @juliejordanscot

Anonymous said...

I would not say influence but Inspired...Yes !! My I is done for today


Tina said...

Great words for thought. Love what you said about emotion...and creating that in your readers.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought about this question before. Will be pondering it today...

Ali said...

The authors who have inspired me most are probably Peral S. Buck and Larry Niven, but ever book I read influences me in some way. :)

I haven't finished I yet but my H post is HAGS and other High School Yearbook Clichés

Arlee Bird said...

There's not much better compliment to have someone tell you that you've influenced them.

A Faraway View
An A to Z Co-host blog

DL Hammons said...

@Jolie - Excellent writers and role models both!

@Julie - For me, if you can't toy with your readers emotions, then why bother?

@Capturedalive - Both. I'm both influenced and inspired by the people I read most, but what I intend to do mostly is influence.

@Tina - Thank you. It is very important to me.

@Anothercleanslate - Not while your driving I hope! :)

@Alison - Can't say that I've read either of those.

AJ Lauer said...

Mmm..Yes. Though for me, when people ask me what made me want to become a writer, the answer is more 'I have always been one' and the ability to influence others is what makes me want to become a *better* writer. Good post, DL!

AJ Lauer
#atozchallenge helper minion
Twitter: @ayjaylauer

Patricia said...

This is a good post to help me keep things in perspective. I'm not a writer as much as I'm a product reviewer, but this has really helped me remember what's important when it comes to blog hops such as these. :)

- Patricia at Bookish Geek> - come visit me, I'm new and lonely!

Unknown said...

Awesome post! As a writer, I have so many influences that I wrote a thesis on them. lol

Jessica at Scary-Simple-Smitten

Amy Saia said...

Wonderful post! Also, thank you for the kind words at my blog.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I don't even know how to answer those questions. I read everything I could get my hands on (that Mom would allow) when I was a kid and I have a very active imagination. It just spills out on paper...

DL Hammons said...

@Arlee - Don't you know it!

@Ayjay - That's a good answer to the question! I hope you get asked it in an interview some day. :)

@Bookish Geek - I'm happy I could provide some perspective!

@Jessica - WOW! That's some serious influences!

@Amy - Thank you...and you're welcome. :)

@Patricia - I hope its not messy! :)

Tami Von Zalez said...

One writer that comes to mind for me is John Irving. He has such a unique way of weaving a tale and drawing the reader in.

Carrie-Anne said...

I've written literally as long as I've been able to write, so it's just something I've always done. It's kind of hard for me to relate to people who only came to writing later in life or in response to a trendy book like Harry Potter or Twilight.

My greatest writing inspiration, and one of my heroes as well, is my favorite writer, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, may his memory be for a blessing. I'm also influenced by my other favoritest writers, Hermann Hesse, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, and Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev. Other writing influences include Ida Vos, who, among other things, inspired me to use present tense, many years before every other writer decided to use present tense. At least I'm original by using third-person present.

Unknown said...

My writing inspiration, although it has since included famous authors who wrote books - my first and most prominent writing inspiration came as a kid from Reader's Digest. My mom had a subscription, still has one and it was one of the first things I remember reading and being affected by in a profound way. It expanded my world and let me see what else was out there beyond my small town. As opposed to the children's books I read, Reader's Digest wrote about real people, real problems and the real world. I wanted to write after reading the magazine. I wanted to contribute to the education and entertainment of the world through writing.

Great post!

Rita A. said...

I love to hear how authors answer these and other questions. They are all so varied and yet somehow the same.

Unknown said...

The books that has stayed with me from school would be Orwell's Animal Farm, Blakes' poetry and Macbeth. Now I have so many favourites in different genre, currently I love Clive Barker and Tom Robbins. Books can change you in ways no other medium can, thanks to all the writers.

Kathleen Jennette said...

I'm influenced by so many things, good and bad. All shows me a better way.
KaTy Did at: Life's Ride As I See It

DL Hammons said...

@Tami - The World According to Garp was an amazing book!

@Carrie-Anne - I began writing in high school and then the desire went dormant for many years while I raised a family and pursued a career. It returned when our kids were old enough to not need their dad so much.

@J Keith - To be honest, I developed a negative feeling for Readers Digest because it was in every doctor and dentist waiting room you went to. Guilt by association! :)

@Rita - No one's path is quite the same, but they are all headed in the same direction! :)

@Maggie - I totally agree!

@KT - You're right, I've been negatively influenced by some books as well.

Rob Z Tobor said...

Don't Read, Cant Write, But Can blog....

Rob Z Tobor

Susan Kane said...

Music influences me, creates a mood. But James Michener was a big influence. I love the layers he put into his books.

Unknown said...

Awesome post. I'll be sure to stop by your contest! And I love King. Used to love Koontz, but I feel he's really gone downhill over the last six years or so.

I liked what you had to say about why you write, about how those books held you captive and how you want your stories to do that with someone. I feel the same way. I guess we all do.

#1Nana said...

I'm thinking I should be writing my A-Z posts a day late so I can be inspired by other writers. I struggled to find an I topic and yours was a good one! What are you doing for J and K????

Kathe W. said...

I dont thnk any writer has influenced me- life amongst creative people has influenced me and consequently how I write.

My "I" can be found here:


Sheena-kay Graham said...

What influences us strongly affects both our writings and who we are. I too hope to write my own path and pull in readers.

Ali said...

I is for Injury - EPIC Injury

Andrea said...

I have to be inspired because I am not very creative on my own!

DL Hammons said...

@Rob - One out of three ain't bad. :)

@Susan - I listen to music every time that I write.

@Karen - I have to agree with you about Koontz, although, King has disappointed me recently as well.

@Nana - I think you'll be surprised by my post tomorrow. :)

@Kathe - Inspiration and influence can come from almost anywhere.

@Sheena-Kay - I wish you luck!

Anstice Brown said...

"I'm not trying to imitate the way that King, Koontz, McBain, Christie, Spillane or Conroy write. I'm trying to imitate the way they made me feel when I read their work."

^ That is a brilliant way of putting it.

Anonymous said...

My own influences probably include the writers I loved in high school: JD Robb, LKH, Anne Bishop, Lois Bujold. I still love most of them.

Sonia Lal

Kristen said...

Great word! There are always people who influence you more than others, but many people influence you in one way or another. I wonder if we even recognize all of our influences. We could have many small influences that add up, or combine.

#atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

Sanderella said...

Loved this post, and I do think we are influenced by other authors and we want to "wow" our readers like those authors "wowed" us! It is not imitation, no. It is why people write! An actor wouldn't step out on stage and never get an applause! Same thing.

Bob Sanchez said...

A big influence for me has been David Daniel, a longtime friend and much-published mystery writer living in Massachusetts.

Shannon Mashinchi said...

I for Insanity...

DL Hammons said...

@Alison - Okay?

@Andrea - Don't sell yourself short!

@Anstice - Thank you very much!

@Sonia - I don't think we'll ever lose our love for those original influencers.

@Kristen - My list was certainly only a partial. There are way too many to list here. :)

@Sandy - Excellent point. Thank you!

@Bob - Most everybody has someone like that they can point to.

@Shannon - Sure...why not. :)

MunirGhiasuddin said...

Very nice post. Most writers are influenced by one aspect of their life or the other or even aspects of other people's lives.

Michelle Wallace said...

Great post!
I is for Intertrigo

Writer In Transit

Anonymous said...

And the game of catch up continues...I truly enjoyed this post yesterday, DL...and again today. Narrowing it down to choose a favorite author - not so much. However, I do believe the A - Z Challenge influences a lot of bloggers:) Best of the day to you!

Anonymous said...

I might be an odd-ball, but I got my writing influences from tv. I wanted to do superhero books based on watching X-Men when I was a kid. It wasn't until reading The Outsiders that I tried to imitate a writer.

Unknown said...

This is fabulous. I really wanted to write about something regarding the Indie world but I ended up having a weird reaction to medication and started craving corn and ended up writing about Iowa so I could write about corn *faceplant* LOL I have enjoyed reading your stuff this month!
I is for IOWA whicih means CORN GREAT post again!

DL Hammons said...

"But eating people alive, when does that get fun?"

Such a great character!! :)

Ann Hinds said...

I was reading in bed when my husband rushed in to ask me what was wrong. I had no idea I was sobbing. That's good writing. Everyone is different but the influence and inspiration of writing from the heart helped me realize I want to write that way too.