FanLit Asks… About style

We often post our chats with authors on Tuesdays, but we’re trying something new today. Instead of asking one author several questions, we’ve asked several authors just one question. Please leave a comment and let us know how you like this format. We’ll choose one commenter to win a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver on audio CDs (or 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?fantasy book reviews Daniel Abraham The Dagger and the Coin 1. The Dragon's Path

Daniel Abraham / M.L.N. Hanover: Walter Tevis, the author of the original book The Man Who Fell to Earth and the underrated classic Mockingbird, also wrote the pool-shark novels The Hustler and The Color of Money and the best chess novel ever, The Queen’s Gambit. He was able to control information and create suspense without resorting to overt violence, and it marked him as a master.

Alex Bledsoe: Charles de Lint showed me that it was possible to combine the real world and fantasy and not have it sound like a bad attempt to write a storybook. Along with Alan Moore, he also demonstrated to me that nonhuman characters were capable of the same emotions as human beings, and thus were not that different, whether it be crow girls or Swamp Thing.fantasy book reviews Blake Charlton Spellwright 2. Spellbound

Blake Charlton: Neal Stephenson. The elegant complexity of his prose mirrors that of his subject matters.

Leanna Renee Hieber: Edgar Allan Poe. When I first read him as a child, my world suddenly made sense, and exploded with artistic possibility. (Yes, I’ve always had a bit of a dark side) His language rich and beautiful and oh-so-haunting, it set me up to love Gothic, fantastical things. And now my career is in Gothic Victorian Fantasy with strong strains of light Horror, and the more I write, the more his influence becomes evident.

Jim C Hines The Princess Books 1. The Stepsister SchemeJim C. Hines: All of them. I find myself learning from pretty much every book I read, whether it’s Peter David’s use of humor, the warmth and heart of Janet Kagan’s work, the action and pacing of folks like Simon Green or J.K. Rowling… I can’t really point to any single author who’s had the greatest influence on my own writing. I try to learn from them all.

Eileen Kernaghan: Over the years I’ve learned from many writers, and I’ve experimented with  many different voices, but Ursula LeGuin is the writer who has had the greatest influence on my style. I  most admire in her work what I can only strive to emulate  in my own — the precision of her language,  the grace and clarity of her sentences, and her poet’s ear for the cadence of the lines.

book review E.E. Knight Vampire Earth Way of the WolfE.E. Knight: “Style” can mean many things. If you restrict the meaning to prose style: clean sentences, vivid verbs, precise nouns, a nice cadence to the paragraphs and so on I’d have to give the laurels to Robert E. Howard.  If “style” has a broader meaning, say “who influenced me to do genre-blending” I’d probably point to either Ray Bradbury or Richard Matheson as being the most influential. If you mean whose writing I try to emulate in its perfect combination of plot, character, and setting, it would be Richard Adams in Watership Down.

Skyler White: Marion Zimmer Bradley — for introducing me to the idea that old stories could be re-envisioned, Emma Bull — for heart and brio, and for the revelation that the old stories could live in modern context, and John Crowley for setting such a (damn) high bar of imagination, subtlety and beauty.

Janny Wurts To Ride Hell's ChasmJanny Wurts: Roger Zelazny, for the genius of pursuing maverick originality, Dick Francis, for the value of characterization, Dorothy Dunnett, for sparkling prose, depths and layers of meaning and stunning plot twists, and J.R.R Tolkien, for demonstrating the power of original myth. No, these are not all “speculative fiction,” but since I read the fiction library regardless of genre, I have been inspired by too many authors to list.


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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

View all posts by Kat Hooper

6 comments

  1. WOW!! I think we can call the first FANLIT ASKS a hit. I loved it.
    Thanks to all the authors who participated for their very sincere and intresting answers. You-all ROCK!! \m/

  2. SandyG265 /

    I like this format. It’s interesting reading the different author’s answers.

  3. Sabrina /

    I also like this format. I like being able to easily compare the responses to a single question and hear the different takes on it. Indeed it is very interesting.

  4. Yeah this is a good column. Very interesting to hear all their takes.

  5. I like this format. Sometimes it’s nice to read little tidbits from several authors rather than one long interview of one author. Especially if they’re pointed questions about things we really want to know…like the ones you asked today. Great!

  6. Sandy, please send me your address and I’ll send you Quicksilver (or something else from our stacks).

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