The same way that matter cannot be created from nothing, neither can stories. Every author has influences–known or not–that have changed the way they view the world. I have been reading all my life, but not until high school did I find stories and authors that moved me enough to create my own.
Lee Child was the very first thriller author I ever read. Two of his books, Killing Floor and The Enemy, had been gifted to my dad, and I picked them up one day and was hooked. He introduced me to a new genre–one filled with the guns, explosions, and bad-assery that filled the action movies I already loved. And because of his main character, Jack Reacher, I began to devour more books, eventually buying the rest of the series (and now pre-ordering them as they come out) and collecting a library of other authors in the same genre.
In the summer of 2012, I went to a writer’s conference in Manhattan. As a last minute decision, I signed up for an intensive writing course that accompanied it taught by Steve Berry and his wife, Elizabeth. I enjoyed the class, but, still in my extremely shy phase, I didn’t speak up much, just soaked everything in. This apparently caused them some concern. After assuring Elizabeth Berry I loved it, we talked and she even offered to introduce me to Lee Child the next day. Having been a fan for several years at this point, I was ecstatic. When I arrived, she did just that, and the four of us–Steve and Elizabeth Berry, Lee Child, and I–stood around for a good 30 minutes talking and laughing like old buddies. I went home from that conference with a renewed determination to be an author–and with a Steve Berry book.
James Rollins is another author I follow religiously and have enjoyed his books for many years. His books are actually where I got the idea for my own series. While his are thrillers with a heavy science component, mine have a technology twist. I also love the chemistry between his characters and the dynamic of having a larger team be the main characters, so I have built my own team in my books.
At the writer’s conference in New York, Lee Child mentioned I should check out Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder. Unfortunately, I was riding too much of a high (I mean, I was talking to my favorite author after all–in person) to remember to pick it up afterwards. It wasn’t until two years later when I ran across his name (and that exact book) again in a store that I bought and read it. I was immediately sorry I hadn’t done that two years ago, because I flew through it in three days. It was amazing. But, his books also introduced me to the thrillers that have a “regular guy” as the main character, yet retain the same high-octane rush as the ones with police/military/spies as the mains, which I’ve also used for some of my short stories.
I have had the privilege to meet all four (and many other) in person at various book signings (if you’re anywhere near Houston, check out Murder by the Book bookstore) and conferences, and they are as incredible in person as they are on the page. Each has encouraged me and others to continue writing–even when the process is hard to break through.
What authors/influences have impacted you? Let me know in the comments!