Yesterday, several writers posted about their favorite writing books. Today, you will read about fiction and poetry books that impacted writers when they were younger.
I think this is such a hard question! When I was 7 or 8, my parents hired a friend to be a writing tutor for me — he introduced me to the idea of ‘reading like a writer’ at a very young age. I feel so lucky to have had that. That said, my very favorite writer of all time is Frank O’Hara — he uses words so powerfully and joyfully. Here’s an example: TODAY
Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about
still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.
From The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright © 1971 by Maureen Granville-Smith. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Amie Rose Rotruck
Author of “Young Wizards Handbook: How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters” and “Bronze Dragon Codex” (as R.D. Henham)
I don’t have a favorite writing book, I find them a bit overwhelming with various ideas that I’m not always able to follow (such as getting up early and writing first thing in the morning….shudder!). I usually look to favorite books for inspiration.
I can name quite a few books that I wish I’d written: Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn,” Kirsten Cashore’s “Fire,” Lois Lowry’s “The Giver,” Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydain,” Carrie Ryan’s “The Forest of Hands and Teeth.” The latter is one that honestly feels like it could have come from my brain…in a parallel universe, since, while I like zombie books and movies, I never had any desire to write one. The book I’m going to talk about, though, is one that isn’t nearly as well-known as it should be and I want more people to read it!
My favorite middle-grade fantasy stand-alone novel is Anne Lindberg’s “Three Lives to Live.” The author is the daughter of Charles and Anne Lindberg. She wrote a few books about children from the modern world finding a pocket of a fantasy world somewhere. The first book I read by her was “The Hunky-Dory Dairy,” which I found in middle school. My senior year of high school, I found “Three Lives to Live” and it’s been a favorite ever since.
I don’t want to say much about the plot because there are a LOT of twists that I don’t want to spoil. It is written as the main character’s autobiography, which starts out as a school project and quickly spins so out of control that she ends up having an edited version (not portrayed in the book, although I wish it had been now that I’m thinking about it) and the one she writes for herself. The main character, Garet, has such a fun, original, sarcastic voice, and the other characters are very original and fun, even the adults (who so often aren’t in MG fiction). The plot is something that I’ve really never stumbled across before, and that’s saying something!
When I was working on my masters in Children’s Lit, I decided to look up Lindberg and see what else she’d written, maybe do a paper on her. I was much saddened to learn that she passed away in the late 90s. A shame, because each book she wrote was even better than the last and I think, had she lived, we would have seen her on a Newbery list at some point.
While I’ve never considered myself a humor writer, I think that “Three Lives to Live” really helped me put the funny into “Young Wizards Handbook.” The voice I used in that book is similar to Garet’s in the book; small wonder, since I’ve read that book about once a year for the past 20 years!
Marcie Flinchum Atkins
Children’s and Young Adult Writer
I read ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery over and over again as a kid. What impacted me most about this book was that I loved character of Anne and the setting Montgomery set for her. I loved the setting so much that we made a trek to PEI about ten years ago. I think it was one of the many books that made me want to create a world as a writer that other people might get swept up in. My personal copy is worn and yellowed, and the spine is cracked. This is one of the books of my childhood that entranced me so much that I knew I had become a writer.