As I sit here on the couch enduring a terrible cold and wishing for the life of me that I had some cough drops, I find myself reflecting back on the books that inspired me to write. Over the last several weeks, I’ve noticed that I am naturally drawn to writing and reading dark fiction, fantasy, and monster genres. Perhaps it is an unconscious desire because that is the kind of fiction I grew up with, the kind of writing that I wanted to be able to imitate but also make my own some day. And while the Monstrum Chronicles and my other projects do have more adult themes, I can’t help but realize now that my inspiration to write these is drawn from five very important authors and their works that I read in my youth. So today, instead of music, I will be sharing with you my top five favorite books from my young adulthood and what it was about them that inspired my current writing style. Enjoy!
Goosebumps – How To Kill A Monster: R.L. Stine – Oh, yes. The Goosebumps series. What horror writer hasn’t attributed some of their childhood time to reading several of these bone-chilling tales? I will admit outright that I had a couple favorites from Stine’s series that I re-read over and over. Two in fact. And while my brother devoured several of the other books, I continued to go back and read How To Kill A Monster and It Came From Beneath The Sink over and over and over. Why? Both books featured female protagonists, something that I have always strived to write but, so far, haven’t been able to do. My fascination with the unknown, monsters in particular, also kept Monster in my classic children’s book archives. It Came From Beneath The Sink stayed on my mind more because of how the “evil sponge” (yes, I realize how weird that sounds) is defeated, not by violence but by showing kindness instead, the direct opposite of the ending to How To Kill A Monster.
Animorphs – The Visitor: K.A. Applegate – Unlike most who read the iconic series about five kids with the ability to turn into animals, I didn’t start with book one but rather book two. It was my first Animorphs book and the one that ultimately initiated me into Applegate’s world of animals and aliens. The Animorphs series was brilliant. Alien slugs that take over people’s minds (Sorry, Stephanie Meyer, you’re a bit late to the race on that one) is just one of the creepiest things to make as your enemy. It instantly turns your family members and friends into enemies and makes everything so much more personal for our protagonists. Add to the fact that the animal morphing comes with strict guidelines such as how long you can stay in animal form, and things become a whole lot more dangerous. This series also introduced me to character duality, the inner light and dark of a character with it’s David trilogy. For me, this trilogy was also significant because it focused on Rachel (my favorite character), how she dealt with David’s betrayal and developed her own personal vendetta against him.
His Dark Materials – The Golden Compass: Phillip Pullman – Continuing right along with our list of female protagonists, I’ll move straight into Pullman’s fantastical The Golden Compass. What spoke to me most in this series was not our protagonist but instead one of the antagonists, Miss Coulter. Her ruthlessness through out the book really spoke to me in later years when I was trying to develop some of my female antagonists (ie: Tyra, Sybil, etc…) The use of language in this book and its complicated plot points were also inspiring to me. Having various subplots and juggling multiple characters so expertly inspired me to want to do the same in my books.
Green Trilogy – Green Angel: Alice Hoffman – I remember this book vividly because of how dark and painful it was. It dealt with a tragedy much like the one that occurred on Sept. 11th, using a young woman as a protagonist. She loses her family and begins to turn toxic, drawing black tattoos all over herself, basically losing her desire to live. Only through the kindness of others is she finally able to heal herself. I remember taking this book out from the library, how the pages smelled like green tea, how I practically devoured it in one night. The language was spellbinding and the character’s journey haunting. I attribute Green Angel to introducing me to deep pain in protagonists and how it is something that can always be remedied, no matter the level of tragedy that one goes through.
Kingdom of the Golden Dragon: Isabelle Allende – Also the second in a trilogy of young adult books, this final inspirational book features a male protagonist who is dealing with the fear of his mother dying from cancer. This fear takes a backseat to his adventures in the Himalayas with his grandmother and best friend, Nadia. What spoke to me most about this book was that it subtly layered the action/adventure portions of the book with internal struggles as well as keeping several characters highlighted. It also wasn’t doused with a lot of flowery purple prose. It was well-written, kept momentum going with the plot, and was enjoyable from start to finish.
Do any of you fellow writers attribute your writing to what you read when you were a child/young adult? Tell me about them! Next time, we will return to Inspiration Through Music, and discover some new tunes to groove to while writing! Stay tuned!