Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Authors that Inspire (Laura)

Beatrix Potter pillows (with my kitty)
When I think about what made me want to write as a kid, I look back and see it was imitation. I liked reading books--they felt magical and special and got my heart pumping. I wanted to make books too. At first that consisted of me sitting on my dad's lap and saying, "Write this down," then "illustrating" at the dining room table for days. (Alas, I was not meant to be an illustrator.) As I got older, I found that certain authors inspired me in the same ways and also in new ways. Here are some of those authors.

Beatrix Potter
I can still remember sitting with my dad and trying to pronounce the scr-r-ritch-scratch noise of the hoe Mr. McGregor used in his garden in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I didn't understand that it wasn't a word but a sound. I loved how the books were the right size for my small kid hands, and I read them until pages started falling out. They still managed to survive with my collection.

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods was my first real book love. My first grade teacher read it to the class, and I wanted to keep reading it at home. I got a beautiful, shiny new copy that may have been a Christmas gift. It's in tatters now, but still on my shelf. On the Banks of Plum Creek was my close second favorite.

Beverly Sommers
Sommer's sweet, short novel The Meaning of Sisterhood had a special place in my heart when I was a teenager. I used to find this book by going to the same shelf in the library and looking for the cover. Then one day it had been moved, and I couldn't remember the name of the author or the title in order to find it again. It took me a few years and the help of a couple of friends to figure out what it was I had read, and another friend tracked down a used copy for me. For this reason, it has special meaning to me, but also brings me back to my childhood, to when life was simple and I still lived in the same home with my parents and siblings. I read it every Christmas. No other books I read during my teen years stayed with me quite like this one.

JK Rowling
Of course. Rowling fascinated me with her world, stories, and characters and made me want more books like hers. I was working in a library when book six of the Harry Potter series came out, and with all the frenzy around it, I decided to see what the fuss was over. I had a month off from school that August and planned to read all six books during the break. I bought them two at a time, and it wasn't fast enough.

Christopher Healy
Fairy tales and good humor are two elements I especially love to see in books, and Healy combined these impressively in his Hero's Guide trilogy. A laugh can get you through a lot, and not many books have made me laugh out loud like these books have. They teach me about bringing out the kind of humor in my writing that I enjoy, and attempting to do it alongside serious themes. It doesn't matter if my writing never reaches the league of these books, as long as they keep me stretching and striving to get better.

Laura Ruby
The first time I finished reading Ruby's Bone Gap, I immediately flipped to the beginning and started over again. A year later, I am still processing it, and I hope to one day be able to write about why it means so much to me. For now, all I can say is this beautifully written magical realism story gave me hope and tapped into a well of thoughts and feelings in me that I am still working to express more fully in my writing. Sometimes when something lights a fire in me, it takes me a while to gather the pieces and figure out what it is I'm trying to respond with. I still haven't quite gotten there with this book.

Kate DiCamillo
With her novel The Magician's Elephant, DiCamillo said something I think I have always wanted to say and didn't know how to. Now I have a copy of this book to remind me of its message anytime I want to hear it. Writers like DiCamillo remind me there are people in the world doing exactly what they should be doing with their lives, and that is inspiring on its own. She makes me want to be a better writer.

In fact, all of these authors make me want to be a better writer. The best kind of writing happens when you feel alive, like you're dying to say something and don't necessarily know quite what. You just have to figure it out, like arranging puzzle pieces until you find the right combination of words or metaphors or sometimes sounds until your message comes across. The one you've been trying to say, or maybe didn't even know you wanted to say. Writing is like being thirsty, or like having an itch on a nerve that's hard to place. It's like that for me anyway, and these authors have all made me respond in some form. They've stirred something that eventually led me to write--maybe days, months, or years later. Their work is the reason I fell in love with books and keep falling in love with books, especially children's and young adult literature. Writing is my way of figuring out what it is deep inside me that I can't easily unlock but feel a desperate need to. Just as pain is our bodies' way of telling us something is wrong, our drive to write is our hearts' way of telling us we have something to say that we haven't expressed, or that we've maybe even buried. We all have this to contribute, and these authors have helped me uncover that drive in myself. There are many others I'm sure I am not even thinking of right now, but these are some that have stayed with me. I recommend them!

What authors have influenced or continue to influence you in your writing?


The Meaning of Sisterhood: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show1054834.Meaning_of_Sisterhood
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom: http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Guide-Saving-Your-Kingdom/dp/0062117459


  1. Thanks, Laura! Fun to see some old favorites on your list, as well as some intriguing new titles! On my list they go!

  2. Great post, Laura! I absolutely agree that in large part my inspiration to write came from authors who have touched me both in childhood and more recently. I loved your story about The Meaning of Sisterhood, and I'm so glad you were able to find it again! I used to read books over and over like that, too - I still would now except there are so many new books I want to read and so little time :)

    1. Thank you, Laurie! I know what you mean about not having enough reading time. The Meaning of Sisterhood is definitely an exception since it is about 120 pages and a SUPER quick read. I have to pace myself so I don’t finish it too fast, and I’m a slow reader. :)


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