Early Influences

Writers who have influenced me

I grew up reading stories by Fredric Brown, Philip K. Dick, E. A. Poe,  J.R.R.Tolkien, Robert Heinlein,  and Anne McCaffrey, and I am happy to say they also helped shape my writing.  

Fredric Brown was a pulp novelist back ‘in the day’ and if you ever get your hands on “The Best of Fredric Brown” or “The Very Best of Fredric Brown” buy it, and more importantly read it.  The man’s wit and ability to turn a story on its ear is breath-taking.  If you like mysteries, the two I’d recommend are “The Deep End” and “Night of the Jabberwocky.”

“The Deep End,” is literally a roller coaster ride of a murder mystery and “Night of the Jabberwocky” will give you whiplash with the twists and turns.  (My one piece of advice if you’re going to read both, read the Deep End first, because after Night of the Jabberwocky, you’ll know the twists and turns to expect from Fredric Brown.)

If you can only read one of them, go for “Night of the Jabberwocky.”  (and I will warn you, you’ll probably learn more about linotype, typesetting and printing a newspaper in the 40’s-50’s than you could ever want to know.)

Fredrick Brown has influenced my writing in two ways.  First, the man had a way with a short story.  His writing showed me that you can do a lot with just a few words and how you handle the ending can make the story haunting or humorous, sometimes both.  From his books I learned the importance of  a well timed twist in the story where you think you know what’s going on, only to discover that things are never as they seem.

Philip K. Dick – Another of the old masters.  Philip K. Dick, the author who gave us  “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” and “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” Movies based on his books include: Blade Runner (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”), Total Recall (” We Can Remember it for You Wholesale”), Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau.

What more can I say?  Philip K. Dick’s writing is well thought out- socially concious and he taught me the importance of a good title.

J.R.R. Tolkein  – As writer, his fiction affected me on a very profound level (as in I found myself making up names based on his stories, and even unwittingly stole one or two which, of course, I changed. )  As a linguist, he inspired me to study language and

I never believed someone could do the story justice and Peter Jackson, thankfully, proved me wrong.

J.R.R. Tolkein’s influence comes in in world building.  I learned that if you are going to write about an imaginary place, you need to give it depth and history- even if you don’t use it directly in the story- its weight can be felt.

Robert Heinlein – The man who brought you “grock.”  The first story I read by Heinlein was “Time for the Stars”.  It was also the first SciFi/Fantasy book I read with Telepathy that wasn’t fantasy.

It remains one of my favorite stories to date and I keep in mind that one of the best things you can do as a writer is mix things up.

Anne McCaffrey – Dragonmistress.  The first story of Anne MacCaffrey’s that I ever read was “The Ship Who Sang”  given to me as a gift from a friend who said “I think you’ll like this.”  They were right.

From Anne McCaffery I learned world building and the importance of character.