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Sunday, October 31, 2010

15 Authors Who've Influenced Me (expanded version)

I made the mistake of joining in a non-Zynga FB game yesterday. Why do I do the things I do not want to do?

Anyway, after taking the required 15 minutes to list the authors, I took more than 15 minutes to figure out who to tag, and almost didn't get my hair done, but that's my personal hell and one of the dangers of FB.

Returning from my busy Saturday of election volunteering (vote this Tuesday and don't be stupid), I found I was not the only sucker to take part in this game.

I enjoyed jumping around people's walls, for once not looking for virtual sheep, and stumbled across C.L. Dyck (of Scita Scienda)'s note.

Not having enough to do with being a mom, wife, writer, editor and Canadian, she upped the ante by listing reasons these authors were on her list.

Thanks, Cat. 'Preciate it.

Well, I don't want to repost my FB note. I don't want to remember who I tagged. It was hard enough to think of them the first time.

But I do want to play with the revised rules. I may have done this before, but if I can't remember, I suspect you can't, either, so here goes.

I'm listing the rules in case you want to play this silly thing during your FB time. Yes, you can tag me.

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag at least fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what authors my friends choose.

These are not listed in order of importance, just as they come to me.

1) Anne McCaffrey - Pern stories, but almost anything, really.
My writing style, my linking of worlds, and my fascination with psychic powers all started here, with the itty bitty book Dragonsong, which appeared on my shelf by teleportation because no one I've questioned seems to remember putting it there. As I've aged, I've learned to appreciate her subtle treatment of the more -ehem- adult themes of her books. As a child, I had no idea what she was writing about, and I hope I can master the technique should I need it.

2) Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice.
I've read her other books, but they seem pale imitations of this one. I love the civility, and the way the meanest things are couched in the most polite terms. I could also wish for Lizzy's spunk and Jane's serenity.

TT: Hey! I just realized Dyana and Glorya could be Lizzy and Jane. Hmm.

3) C.S. Lewis.
Narnia, anyone? How could you not be affected?

4) George MacDonald.
He could thumb-wrestle Anne McCaffrey for number 1. How many times do I bring up The Lost Princess? If you haven't read it, and you know a brat, find the book. If it doesn't change your life, you're dead. Go lie down. Love his short stories, love The Princess and Curdie, love Lilith. Have no idea what Phantastes is about, but read it regularly anyway 'cause it was one of the books that inspired C.S. Lewis.

5) Wendi and Richard Pini
Elfquest rocks! These are not listed in order of importance because these guys would be number 1. Maybe. This comic book series formed most of my opinions about love, long-term friendships, tribal loyalty, leadership, parenthood, the "quest," tall women as villains, and the drawbacks to immortality. Pretty much everything I think. Thanks to Wendi, none of my drawings had five fingers until I was in my 20's. And, Cat, they're Canadian, too!

6) Robin and Stephen Cosgrove.
You may know them as the illustrator and author of the Serendipity books. I assume they're going strong, but my library contains older works like Little Mouse on the Prairie, the Saveosaurus and Nitter Pitter. For years, I called my lamb a "furry Eyefull" thanks to these people. Beautifully illustrated stories with animals as main characters and a tidy moral lesson at the end. It was the illustrations, mostly.

7) Piers Anthony Xanth novels
My favorites were Castle Roogna and Golem in the Gears, although A Spell for Chameleon was pretty cool. How often have I remembered that giant adult spider teaching the young boy in a man's body how to act like a man? How to think ahead and be prepared? Plus, it was a world unto itself, but it followed rules. Creative, unique and never-ending. He's written, what? 100 of them? Moving on.

8) Frank Herbert
Dune is the only book I've read more than once, and I wish I'd never read any of the others. It was a huge story told in a little book. Families that control entire planets? An emperor who rules the galaxy? A bunch of women who rule everything except the Quisatz Hadirach? Talk about scale. Now that I'm grown up, I think Herbert had issues with wives and Muslims, but as a child I just loved Paul and wanted good things for him.

9) Antoine de Saint Exupery
The Little Prince is all about love. How one rose among a million others can mean more because it is your rose. How to tame something makes you responsible for it (I learned this one too well). How two separate minds can link through the miracle of imagination. What more is there to learn?

10) Peter S Beagle
The Last Unicorn is a nearly perfect book. He sweated, he bled, he cursed, he wished for death while he was writing it, but in the end, he loved it. So do I. A unicorn that regrets. Can there be a more tragic tale than that? So many quotable lines, too. "Butterflies remember only songs and bits of poetry." "Your death sits in that cage." "If she touches me, I will never belong to myself again."

11) Robert Jordan, may he rest in peace.
I loved Conan the Destroyer, but discovering The Wheel of Time plunged me into despair almost as great as Stuart Stockton's Starfire. Jordan truly created a World. I don't know how he did it. I don't know how he kept it going. I do know he died so he wouldn't have to finish it 'cause he didn't know how. Actually, I don't know that, but I've suspected it for a long time.

12) Robert Aspirin's Myth Adventures
Itty bitty witty books again illustrating diverse friendships, coming of age, the benefits of loyalty and pitfalls of success. I don't know how many he finally wrote. I've read 10 or 11. I picked them up for the cover art and kept buying for the friendships.

13) Lloyd Alexander
I read Taran Wanderer over and over for years without realizing it was book four of a series. Yet another coming of age tale showing the benefits of hard work and craftsmanship.

TT: You know, with all these coming of age tales in my background, you'd think I would have grown up a little faster.

14) Dodie Smith
The original author of One Hundred and One Dalmatians - a fabulous book, if you can find it. I have no idea if she ever wrote anything else. I could taste the hot buttered toast and sweet milky tea. I ran with the dogs as they escaped, and cheered as Perdita the wet-nurse's eight liver-spotted children pulled the little carriage so faithfully with the tiniest puppies in it. I smelled the wet hay of the barn they slept in on the way home. Good writing should stay with you, and it has.

TT: I will point out here I will not watch the Disney movie because they got it wrong. Pongo's mate's name is Missus, as in Missus Pongo. Perdita was the liver-spotted Dalmatian brought in to help nurse Missus' fifteen original puppies. She stayed home with the Darlings while Pongo and Missus went to find their children and helped them cope by constantly licking their hands, "forcing them to use copious amounts of hand cream to prevent chapping. Fortunately, she loved the taste of this." I didn't look that up. I remember it from 30 years ago. That's good writing.

15) Barbara Hambly
I can't believe I almost forgot her (and got her name wrong to boot. Sheesh)! I know I've posted about Those Who Hunt the Night before in my "TUTAW: Some Authors Only Write One Book." I love her because she uses words I don't know. That almost never happens for me. I love her because once in every book is a perfect sentence. I search for them. And I love her because as boring or unintelligible as she occasionally is, she got published. She gives me hope.

There're my way too long reasons for choosing these authors.

Now I have to get back to that real life I'm trying to have.


  1. Dodie Smiths's first book is called "I Capture the Castle" and I loved it. First saw the movie, which is also very good, but book is better, of course. Now I'm going to see if the library has "101 Dalmations"; plus a few of the others you recommended.

  2. Robynn, you amaze me and I raised you. This was a wonderful read and over the top in interesting me. It is so much fun to be your Mom..you have always fascinated me and this is just another reason why. Live long and prosper my wonderful daughter

  3. Sweet! This is very cool. (A) I'm going to have to look up the Pini's, and (B) I'm glad to have been introduced to the truth about the Dalmatians. Lines that stick for 30 years...worth looking for.

  4. Is that HilT the mom of a Padawan, Irish Rose and He-man? I'm honored by your presence (if not the same, I'm still glad you're here). I will be looking for "I Capture the Castle."

    Thanks, Mom! Peace and long life to you!

    Thanks for stopping by, Cat. I'm not bitter. Really. Just took me two hours of potential farm time, but I'm not bitter.
    Good luck with finding original Elfquest. I have my copies locked up and I won't let them out of my house. My Dear Friend will attest to this.

  5. Now I REALLY miss facebook, Turtle!
    Boo hoo...
    What a great author's list!
    And how in the world can you be the only person who's ever heard of the original author of 101 Dalmations?
    Surely that kind of knowledge will not go unrewarded. ;)

    Great post!

  6. Hello, Warrior Woman! Welcome! Anytime you want to list your 15 Most Influential Authors, my blog is open to you (so is my email)! Keep checking that spam folder.

  7. Yes that is me, Robynn. I'm always looking for good books to read!


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