Edgar Allan Poe fascinated me in junior high and high school. Stephen King was natural progression. True, the dark themes were intriguing, especially at that age, but it was their writing that kept me coming back. The way they eased into every scene, taking care to reach all my senses, making it feel as if I stood right there. I found it hard to read anyone else, at least for pleasure. I doubted I’d ever enjoy any writer’s work as much. Then, in college, I was introduced to Anne Rice.
I didn’t simply read her book, INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, I studied it in Contemporary English class. We were covering existentialism. I loved her style and courage, and her plot and character development were flawless. She knew human nature so well, she could weave the supernatural into a story and make it completely believable. And, though at the time I’d never been there, she made New Orleans sound like a place I’d never want to leave. Thanks largely to her, I now spend most of my days wondering when I’m going to get back.
When asked, as a writer, who my influences are, I always mention King and Rice. No doubt the endless summers reading Nancy Drew had a hand in the creation of who I am, but I spent the majority of my formative years with the top horror writers of the 80’s and 90’s. I don’t read near as much as I like these days, but, in my teens and twenties, I gobbled up as much as I could. And it shows. From King, I learned how to craft a story, build suspense, and tell the truth. Rice added to what I’d learned, teaching me the importance of backstory, description, and emotion, and – because she’s a woman – gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could really do this. Her First Street Witches series cemented my love for New Orleans. Her Sleeping Beauty Chronicles took erotica to the next level, stripped away my fear of going too far or saying too much, and showed me how to write sex scenes like no one else. I feel her in almost every word I write. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Today, she inspires me with her Facebook posts. Through the articles she shares on the trends of the publishing industry, I’ve learned more in the past year than I did in the previous 45. Working in a vacuum as I do, she keeps me up on current events, makes me think about politics (even when I don’t want to), shares relevant, “insider” news on the Catholic church (which helps with the Malta book), and shows me every day that a successful author can still be accessible. I might never have considered self-publishing CKR had it not been for her in-depth discussion threads on the subject. If it sells, I’ll have that to thank her for as well.
If we are our heroes, I’m glad I picked good ones. My challenge, now, is to make them proud.