In Pt. 1, I chose 7 people to serve as inspiration for what has already proven to be a major theme for 2017: RESIST. But of course, I have another major goal this year: WRITE.
This was a fun exercise because it reminded me of that classic writing question: Who are your influences? I’ve never been sure how to answer that (though http://www.iwritelike.com once described my prose style as similar to both Jane Austen and Stephen King, which, if true, is pretty awesome). There are obviously many writers I admire, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I could see them in my own work (I would love to write beautiful, lush magical realism like Anna-Marie McLemore, but I think I have too much teeth for that). I still have no real idea who has actually influenced my writing the most–my writing style can actually vary quite a bit between projects–but this got me thinking of what kind of qualities I would love to channel for my WIPs. Here are six writers whom I’d like to take inspiration from for my work in 2017. You’ll see they’re a very eclectic group:
Han Kang. I LOVED The Vegetarian–in fact, I think it’s one of my favorite books ever. I adore her prose, which is economical yet visceral and feverish, but what’s especially striking to me about The Vegetarian and her second book, Human Acts, is her astonishing treatment of the subject of violence. Her work is really very bloody, but in the most deeply and quite startlingly thoughtful profound way.
Stacey Lee. Admittedly this is largely for sentimental reasons, but I also really do like her books a lot, which have great emotional resonance and wonderful character development.
Jane Austen. I feel like without realizing it, I’ve subconsciously been influenced by Austen a lot, actually (even if it’s probably not all that obvious in my prose style). I don’t know if I’m a Janeite, but yes, I love Pride and Prejudice. Her arch wit and irony and careful characterizations remain tremendously appealing to me.
Lemony Snicket. Watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix has really made me remember how much I adored that series. I love all the weird conceptual humor and wordplay, but those books could also be genuinely thought-provoking and unsettling. ASouE is inimitable but that perfect balance between humor and darkness, high style and sincere humanism is something I’d really love to bring to my own MG works.
Vladimir Nabokov. I’m not going to pretend that I understood everything about Pale Fire, but Lolita was really the first book where I really remember being enchanted by writing itself. Obviously I’m nowhere near the level of genius that he was, but I love me some good puns and dark humor and outrageous textual richness.
David Wong. Yes, the editor of Cracked is on this list. I really do like his novels a lot–yeah, there’s a lot of sophomoric humor, but they’re actually really great genre sendups and the characterization and themes are surprisingly really damned good.
This was a really enlightening exercise, and if you’re trying to figure out how to make your WIP the dream novel that you want it to be, I’d recommend giving it a try!