Writing Influences

Paul Cezanne, Painter at Work
When I was in art school, I had a painting instructor who worked very quickly. Like me, he could finish a large canvas in one furious non-stop day. Unlike me, he charged upwards of thousands of dollars for such paintings.

Once, we talked about the relationship between time and cost. People want to measure price with something tangible, like hours of effort. It makes sense, right? A large part of our workforce is paid by hourly wage, but this same model is problematic when quantifying art. This particular instructor had spent thirty years perfecting his drawing skills, and practicing painting. He’d lived in Europe, which he claimed to be formative to his craft. He had mentored with a famous photographer, another formative experience. He had fallen in love, and had his heart-broken, and fallen back in love again. And his point was that the day he spent on that large canvas was a sum of all of his experiences. His answer when asked how long a painting took him? A lifetime and a day.

That’s a rather long way of saying that I believe, as artists, writers, singers—as people—we bring the whole of us to everything we do. Looked at that way, my writing influences range from an early childhood in Brazil, all the way to the walk I took around the neighborhood this morning, shuffling through a blanket of leaves here in Northern California. We are the sum of all our experiences.

Now that I’ve gotten all Wayne Dyer on you, I’ll be a little more specific about my reading tastes & influences:

LOYALTY:  I’m very loyal to authors I admire. I adore Jane Austen (Persuasion is my favorite). Kristin Cashore, MT Anderson, George RR Martin, Laini Taylor, Dave Eggers, Holly Black, Neal Shusterman… I will follow them anywhere.

OBSESSION: My most reread book is The Count of Monte Cristo, by far.

VARIETY: Sometimes, I like a ripping fast and fun read, like say a Nelson DeMille book. Sometimes, I like something totally off my usual radar. This spring, I read Matterhorn, an 800 page novel about the Vietnam War. Not my usual thing, but I thought it was brilliant. I’ll go from non-fiction to beef up the old gray matter, to indulging in a straight-up great romance, like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I like variety. It makes me happy.

PATTERN: I have always loved speculative fiction; it’s the one constant in my reading habits. When I read ENDER’S GAME many years ago, I couldn’t read another book for months afterward because I wanted to hold onto the aftertaste of that mind-blowing and truly unique novel. I went through all of Tolkein in high school, and then George RR Martin in college. I mixed books on Arthurian legend like Mary Stewart’s THE CRYSTAL CAVE throughout both. Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy swept me away, as did Lian Hearn’s TALES OF THE OTORI. A recent favorite fantasy novel is DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor. Transport me to another world and give me real character drama and action, and I’m there. Throw in a great romance and beautiful writing, and I’ve got all I need.

Those are some of my influences. What about you? What book have you reread more than any other? What’s the flavor you just can’t do without when you pick up a book?


It's Bookanista Thursday, so check out these rec's if you're looking for your next read!

Elana Johnson REVEALS something awesome!!!
LiLa Roecker  announces a winner - plus a Past Midnight series giveaway
Christine Fonseca  reveals books she cannot wait to read
Beth Revis interviews My Very UnFairytale Life author Anna Staniszewski
Shannon Whitney Messenger interviews Skyship Academy-Pearl Wars author Nick James & agent Jennifer Rofe – with giveaway
Jessi Kirby twirls for Audition
Shana Silver burns for Circle of Fire
Carrie Harris devours Deadly
Stasia Ward Kehoe travels to The Day Before

Also, check out this behind-the-scenes video of the making of UNDER THE NEVER SKY!


When looked at in that way, well heck, it's no wonder artists tend to be some of the most complex, complicated yet paradoxically simplistic people I know, myself included


Snickering about the Wayne Dyer thing...

So true, Angela. And Beth, glad I could make you snicker. Thanks for coming by, you two!

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