Here’s another installment of FanLit Asks. Instead of asking one author several questions, we’ve asked several authors just one question. Please leave a comment or suggest a question for us to ask in the future. We’ll choose one commenter to win a copy of Jack Vance’s The Eyes of the Overworld (one of my favorites!) on audio CDs (or, if you’ve got bad taste, something else from our stacks).
Question: Which speculative fiction writer has had the greatest influence on your own writing style and what, specifically, do you find most inspirational about that writer’s style?
Alex Bell: Definitely Terry Pratchett. His Discworld novels got me through the horror that was secondary school. I loved them for their escapism, warmth and humour and the way they put a smile on my face and made me feel better able to cope with real life!
Erin Bow: Ursula LeGuin. I love many things about her, but as a writer I’m most inspired by the real-ness of her invented worlds. Narnia might well fit in a wardrobe, but Earthsea could fill an ocean and not neglect the whales.
Chris Evans: Tolkien‘s classic fantasy construct showed me the power of myth and complex layering in world building while George MacDonald Fraser gave me insight into the bond between soldiers in time of war. My style is very much a reflection of these two authors’ approaches to grand geo-political concepts on the one hand, and intimate portraits of human (or elf and dwarf) character under extreme duress on the other.
Kevin Hearne: Neal Stephenson taught me that you can write an incredibly brainy book full of ideas and still appeal to a wide audience with deftly written action sequences and a nuclear bomb riding in a sidecar. His spec-fic kung fu still impresses me to this day — and Snow Crash, particularly, is looking eerily prophetic these days.
Matthew Hughes: It’s Jack Vance by a long shot. I am drawn to his minimalist description, his ironically detached dialogue, and the way he implies humor without reaching for the pig’s bladder. He is the only author that I knowingly reread.
Mindy Klasky: My writing style has been most influenced by one of my early fantasy idols — Katherine Kurtz, particularly her first six Deryni books. I devoured those volumes in middle school, reading them so often that I had large portions memorized. Kurtz’s writing often alternates witty, expository dialog with richly-detailed descriptions (particularly of ritual and architecture). Unconsciously, I adapted a similar style for my own books. Except, um, my writing doesn’t often focus on architecture; I tend to describe food :-)
Ken Scholes: Hand’s down, it was Ray Bradbury. His stories started wowing me in the second grade and at 13, I discovered his essay “How to Keep and Feed a Muse” in the textbook On Writing by Writers. I knew after reading it that I had to be a writer. I wrote him soon after and he was kind enough to write back and recommend some books on writing for me, advising me to write 1,000 words a day. I started writing my own stories then and thirty years later, I dedicated my third novel, Antiphon, to him.
Please leave a comment or suggest a question for us to ask in the future.