As part of my book promotion, I was asked to list five authors or books that most influenced me or my writing. It proved to be a nearly impossible exercise, since I could name dozens.
But, when pressed, I finally came up with these:
NANCY DREW MYSTERY STORIES: When it came to female protagonists, Nancy Drew was surely the original badass. Independent, brilliant, and bold, she was everything my preadolescent self hoped to be. I started collecting the series when I was nine, and I gained a whole new appreciation for it decades later when I learned most early books were ghostwritten by a newspaper reporter named Millie Benson, who lived and continued to write--with not nearly the national fanfare she deserved--in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio.
THE OUTSIDERS (by S.E. Hinton): I first read The Outsiders when I was ten, and I went on to reread it at least 20 times. It was the single most influential book that inspired me to write. Her voice, her characters, and the story she wove still resonate with me, even as an adult reader. Connecting recently with the author on Twitter, and having her congratulate me on publishing Finding My Badass Self, was a teenage dream come true.
ERMA BOMBECK: Erma was one of the first female newspaper columnists to gain national exposure and respect, with writing that captured everyday family life in both a laughable and often poignant way. As I have come to discover through my involvement in the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, she also continues to inspire humor and human interest writers across the world.
NORA EPHRON: To this day, I believe no one can write books and screenplays portraying the humor, heart, and essence of being a contemporary woman like Nora could. She was the voice of the "everywoman."
CARRIE FISHER: While best known to many as Princess Leia, it was Carrie's writing that most endeared her to me. With honesty, self-deprecation, and razor-sharp wit--and always the perfect turn of phrase--Carrie's writing taught me that even the weirdest or most cringe-worthy topics and situations are fodder for introspection and humor. Damn, do I miss her.
Your turn: Favorite writers or influential books you'd like to share?