I remember the first time I discovered an author whose voice grabbed my attention and held it to the point that I had to go to the library and seek out anything I could find of hers. I remember the first thrill of falling into another world through the words of another, then feeling crushed when I had to return to my own at the book's end.
It's a powerful thing to find someone who seems to put to words that which you have not yet been able to yourself. To recognize yourself in the voice of another, like finding a resonating tone to the one you already hear. It's also powerful to discover one you did not know even existed, thereby shifting your range even further and growing not only as a reader or writer, but also as an individual.
It is for this reason that I wanted to list (for the sake of space) a top ten, each one representing a facet of my own voice that their work has inspired or awakened. Like a literary lineage tree, each author has in one form or another presented a turning point in my own writing, personal perspective or creative process. To honor the literary voices that bring clarity to your own is not only an exercise in recognition of those who inspired you, but also a reflection of how you utilized that inspiration.
It's an ever-going process, and I am thrilled as the list continues to grow. That's part of the magic of listening to (or in this case reading) storytellers, for each thread they spin can become part of the larger picture that you then sew.
Top Ten Literary Inspirations and the Work that First Hooked Me
(in no particular order)
- Charlotte Bronte - "Jane Eyre"
- Ernest Hemingway - "Now I Lay Me"
- Mark Twain - "An Innocent Abroad"
- G.K. Chesterton - "The Man Who Was Thursday"
- Susanna Clarke - "Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell"
- Kathryn Lasky - "Beyond the Burning Times"
- Diana Gabaldon - The Outlander Series
- Janet Evanovich - The Stephanie Plum Series
- Agatha Christie - "Crooked House"
- Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials Trilogy