Trying to get my art mojo back on, so here’s a few pumpkins, sketched in digital pencil from life, as I have a couple of small ones sitting on my desk.
Today on Sarah Sawyer’s writing blog, she had a post about the five foundational books for all Christian fantasy writers. You can read her list there.
It got me thinking about what books were the most formative for me, as a writer. The books I read in my tender years stand out the most, probably because I read them over and over through the years. But they’re not fantasy. I didn’t dabble much in fantasy just because I didn’t think much about it. I obsessed over wolves and horses, like any other girl.
In no particular order, the books that I think have impacted my writing style the most:
The Cooper Family Adventure series, by Frank Peretti. He taught me about how to build a story setting, like setting up blocks. And he taught me how to smash it all in a spectacular, entertaining climax. And he gave me night terrors for years.
The Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright (The Saturdays, the Four Story Mistake, etc.) Her characters and crystal-clear prose has stuck with me for years. You know how most people talk about Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimbly with nostalgic fondness? I’m that way about Randy, Rush, Mona and Oliver.
My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara. Her prose went beyond purple to absolute poetry. It was years before I understood Ken from an adult’s perspective, and realized that he did have a serious psychological problem going on. As a kid, I sympathized with his daydreams, and I mourned with him as he was forced to violently grow out of it through his suffering with Flicka, his horse.
White Fang, by Jack London. This and Call of the Wild taught me how to write a great animal fight. I read so many wolf books, by Walt Morey, Jim Kjelegaard and others, that I thought ripping out a jugular was a reasonable way to kill someone, and never batted an eye at gore. It’s taken me years to get re-sensitized to violence.
The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald. One of those beautiful stories that I had to read over and over. It’s like an expanded fairytale, and there’s so much weird symbolism that I kept going back to puzzle over it. Like her grandmother’s lamp that she can make shine so bright that it overwhelms the walls around it and hangs like a globe in the sky.
Notice that I didn’t put in Lord of the Rings or Narnia. Everybody lists those. And you know, I liked those, but they didn’t impact my psyche as deeply as the above-listed books. I think books like Swiss Family Robinson and Bambi struck me deeper, as a writer.
I think that’s one reason I’m attracted to modern fantasy now. I grew up with my imagination running rampant on Earth, seeing the drama and magic of real life and the animal kingdom. So my fantasy reflects that.
Do you find that what you write has been impacted by what you read? What are your top five?