You know those books you remember fondly. The ones that you may read repeatedly, or that you remember from your youth. The books which inspired you to become a reader, a writer, a librarian, a publisher, an agent, or an author? Yeah, those. We all have them.
For me, several books inspired me to become an author.
But be warned, when I share them, you’re probably going to say, “This chick is weird.” Hey, that’s okay. The kitchen sink recipe, made up of seriously polar-opposite reading ingredients, came together and over time shaped my interest in the romantic suspense genre.
Of course I, like many children, loved the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. These series got me hooked as a reader. But what shaped my interest in writing in my genre were surprisingly four other books that I read in my early to later teens, and one in my twenties. Ironically, they don’t align with one another. In fact, they’re all over the place. But I distinctly remember the impact they made, because after reading them, or at least studying them (explanation to follow) I pulled out my notebook and started writing stories.
So, here are the books that started it all—for me.
Hail, Hail, Camp Timberwood by Ellen Crawford was the first book that made me appreciate sweet romance. Of course, it’s super sweet because the protagonist is only thirteen. But when she’s off at camp, she experiences her first mean girl encounter and adorable romance. Following that up with Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, I was hooked by long-drawn-out romantic tension. Yes, you read that right. Romantic tension.
Now you’re probably wondering how books written for young children would have that element? They do. Buried within both books is the “Could it be?” “Should it be?” “What is this?” inner dialogue stream that pulses between the protagonists. Cute for youngsters, but as I got older, I found the banter and tension fun and hence, my love for romance.
Turning to suspense, this is where things get even weirder.
Two books changed the landscape for me. First, My Russian Reader. Yes, you read that right. My parents were world travelers, and when my father returned from Moscow with his tales of intrigue (no joke, there’s quite a story here), it propelled me to learn the language so I could return with him. Hence, I learned the Cyrillic alphabet and conversational Russian, which also inspired me to write a story set in Moscow.
The second book was taken straight from my dad’s bookshelf. Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games became one of my favorite go-to reads. Additionally, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming, and the Capital Crimes books by Margaret Truman, seasoned my taste for suspense.
While there are many other books that I recall fondly having an impact on my author’s journey, I could easily say the aforementioned started it all.
What about you?