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10 Authors Who've Influenced Me Most

  1. William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp. Authors of the Dick And Jane series, their primer for sixth graders got me through fourth grade by saving me from a bad teacher and a year of boredom.

  2. Victor Appleton, Jr. The pseudonym of the syndicate of authors who penned the Tom Swift, Jr., novels, “Appleton” inspired me to read.

  3. Margaret Sutton. Author of the Judy Bolton series, Sutton sparked my interest in mysteries and showed me how cool and tough girls could be. Nancy Drew couldn’t hold a candle to Bolton.

  4. William Shakespeare. At first, reading Shakespeare seemed almost like learning a foreign language, but his inventiveness with language gave me a love of words, and acting in his comedies gave me a place to escape and be someone else.

  5. John Nichols. Though I appreciate his writing, it was John himself who sparked my interest in becoming an author during a one-month class in creative writing in college.

  6. John D. MacDonald. After finishing my second Emerson Ward mystery, but still unpublished, an acquaintance told me my writing was a lot like John D’s. I said, “Who?” I then devoured the Travis McGee series. After my first Emerson Ward mystery was published, The Chicago Tribune said it had “all the hallmarks of MacDonald.”

  7. Wallace Stegner. The man wrote beautiful prose, but what influenced me most in his writing was his lack of story. From Stegner I learned how important story is to me.

  8. T. Jefferson Parker. Jeff opened my eyes to the fact that you could combine beautiful prose with story to make a novel bigger than its genre. Others who reinforced that idea include Don Winslow, Michael Gruber, Gregg Hurwitz, Lisa Unger, Charlie Huston and many others.

  9. Tim Hallinan. As I grew more cynical in the age of electronic self-publishing about how much crap sees light of day, Hallinan reaffirmed my faith that great stories told in vibrant, lyrical prose will cut through the clutter and find a wide audience. Hallinan, though, does it with magic—there’s no other logical explanation for it. As a bonus, he’s become one of my biggest cheerleaders.

  10. All of you who have befriended me here on FB and at conferences for constantly reminding me that we write for the love of it.


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