My Favorite Authors and Literary Influences (Pt. 1)

Here is a list in no particular order of some authors that I’ve read, and books that have really influenced me as a writer. I had a hard time coming up with this list in the first place, but at the end of the day, if my house was burning down and I could only save a few books these ones would be pretty high up on that list.

Since the list of authors grew beyond the scope of a single blog post, I’ve divided up the entire thing into two pieces. Today, I’ll share my influences from the early days, and tomorrow I will share more recent influences.

From the Early Days:

Daniel Pinkwater, Brian Jacques, and Roald Dahl

I can’t think of much to say about these three fellows, but they still stand out in my mind as being the most memorable writers of my early childhood. I assume that readers of my generation probably encountered most of the same books I did at Grade 3 and Grade 6. I mean, we all read Animorphs and Goosebumps. But, all the telling details that inform my writing in unseen ways definitely took root when I read the Pinkwater, Dahl, and Jacques triad. In no particular order, these are the books that I’d recommend today.

By Pinkwater:

Lizard Music

Roald Dahl

The Witches

Danny, the Champion of the World

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory


All of the Redwall books, but these are my favorites.

William Sleator

I read Interstellar Pig and The Boxes at a time when my primary fantasy consumption was with authors like David EddingsRobert Jordan, and Terry Brooks. (circa Grade 8,  I’d guess.) These books were weird, dark, off-center, and scratched my itch for new fictional milieus that I wasn’t getting from the epic fantasy genre. Don’t get me wrong, I still do read the occasional fantasy novel, but more than anything I’d read in my childhood, these books pointed to my eventual adult writing influences.

Garth Nix

I’m sure everyone remembers one book very vividly from their childhood, one that inspired a eureka moment when they discovered that they were fantasy fans for life. Most people might point to Lord of the Rings or the Wheel of Time. And sure, I read Jordan, Tolkien, Brooks, and Eddings. But Sabriel was the gateway drug, the one book that hooked me, made me a fan for life. To this day, some of the most vivid scenes that form the fictional tapestry of my childhood stories come from Sabriel. Besides, the story features a badass necromancer heroine who fights dead spirits with swords and seven magical bells. What’s not to like?

How about you all? Which book first got you interested in sf & f? Or reading for that matter?

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