INFLUENCES

Post copyright 2015 by Doris McCraw

Doris

As writing takes a bigger role in my life, I wondered where my influences come from. I’ve always loved telling stories, especially on stage. The actor in me loves bringing life to words on the page. As a writer, I want my words to come alive for my readers.

Upon further investigation, I realize there are so many that to name them all would be far longer than this post should be. In the interest of brevity I’ve limited it to either a book, or author that I still remember after all the years of reading.

The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. It was one of the first series I read as a young girl. Of course who doesn’t love horses? This link will add more about the series, in the interest of brevity of course. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Stallion

Phyllis Whitney was the next author of note that I started reading at about twelve years of age. It was her adult novels that captured my imagination and developed my love of mysteries. She along with Mary Stewart’s strong women characters and Merlin series, did much to add to the independent person my mother was raising me to be. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_A._Whitney https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Stewart_(novelist)

Later in life I started reading the work of Louis L’Amour and Dean Koontz. Both writers would spin a tales that read like you were hearing them speak. Their characters continue to live on in your life long after you put the book down. Watchers by Dean Koontz is still my favorite in that genre and Flint by Louis L’Amour I’ve read many times. Each time I read either of these books, I find something I missed the first time.

The book that I still remember like it was yesterday, which I read shortly after arriving in Colorado is Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow. It introduced me to the West and how history would add so much to a story. If you get a chance, read it! https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/calico-palace/

I could not write a post about influences if I didn’t include Marcus Aurelius and Alfred, Lord Tennyson:  http://www.biography.com/people/marcus-aurelius-9192657 http://www.iep.utm.edu/marcus/  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred,_Lord_Tennyson. Their works and thoughts are another source of reading for me.

Finally, I must include Helen (Hunt) Jackson. Her poetry, essays, novels and life have become so much a part of me, I do believe I might be much less had I not started reading and studying this author.  I have written of Helen and shared her work with you on the post in the past and will probably continue to do so in the future.

So when you read my haiku, my novels and my non fiction writing, you will see and probably feel the influence of the above authors along with many others I didn’t have room to mention. We all are what we experience, whether as ourselves or through the words of others. I am thankful for the works of such amazing people along with that of my mother and father and their parents. Although most have already passed from this world, their influence is still strongly felt by myself and I would add others also.

Originally from the mid-west, Doris now calls the Rocky Mountains her home. Doris is a writer, historian, actor,and teacher. An avid reader Doris loves to spend time in history archives looking for the small, unknown pieces of history. Many times these pieces end up in her stories or poems.

A photographer, Doris also writes haiku and combines them with her photography.
In here spare time she writes/casts and performs with a local murder mystery company.

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24 Responses to INFLUENCES

  1. It’s interesting to read about authors who influenced other authors.

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  2. Nancy Jardine says:

    I’ve read voraciously all my life since I was about 5 years old. The earliest writing to influence me was Enid Blyton but there were many other authors I loved as well, as a kid. I think every teenage year I had a new ‘influence’- yet I can’t really bring them to mind. I was equally impressed when reading my set texts at college and for my University degree. I’ve been asked recently if I think my own writing shows influence from an author I admire and I honestly don’t think so because I’ve been affected by so many, for different reasons.

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    • Doris says:

      Nancy, I think influences show up in what we write as well as the tone. I know my work doesn’t reflect any of my influences, at least I don’t think so, but the type and style I think may show through. Like you, I’ve read so much in my lifetime, including making my mother read to me before I even could tell what the words on the page were. (Smile) Doris

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  3. Joe Stephens says:

    My biggest influence among authors is Robert B. Parker by far. I partially modeled my voice after his Spenser’s, though my hero has a much less jaded view of the world. I also grew up loving Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. As far as influences to just write, that would have to be my mom and, telling my age, John-Boy Walton.

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    • Doris says:

      Joe, I join you in being a big fan of Parker. I’ve read almost everything he wrote. I didn’t read Sherlock, but fell in love with the old Basis Rathbone, Sherlock movies that would play on Sunday afternoon, alternating with Mae West and W C Fields. Doris

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  4. Mike Staton says:

    A couple of thoughts from me: I started reading SF in elementary school. Fiction about astronauts flying to the moon and Mars, published before Alan Shepherd’s flight. The children’s books fired up my imagination, and even today I am still excited about space exploration. My love of fantasy? I can recall reading a Conan book while visiting cousins’ summer cottage on Lake Erie back in the early ’70s. It was my ‘first dip’ into sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

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    • Doris says:

      Robert E. Howard’s Conan books are the best in the early field. Also liked Leigh Brackett ( who died much too young) and of course Andre Norton. I do find it interesting how our reading habits as children may influence the story choices we make to write and read. Thanks for sharing your thoughs, Mike. Enjoyed them and still love space. Doris

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  5. I’m with Joe. One of my biggest influences when I started writing mysteries was Robert B. Parker. I gobbled up all the Spenser books. My very first crime fiction short story I modeled after Parker. And I loved Tony Hillerman and Ed McBain as well. I grew up reading whatever I could get my hands on but I do remember being fascinated with Dean Koontz. I think every writer (that I know at least) is first a reader and it’s hard not to be influenced by your favorites. The trick is to incorporate your own voice into what you love about theirs. Great post, Doris.

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    • Doris says:

      Thank you for the kind word Sarah. As I responded to Joe, I’m a huge fan of Parker’s and I think a lot of people have been influenced by him. I know the early Robert Crais books have a Parker feel.

      Not a fan of McBain, but did and do enjoy the Hillerman books. His daughter also writes some pretty good stories. I also agree, it’s incorporating you own voice into the stories is the key. I think, like Crais, you grow your own style, but you have to start somewhere.

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  6. katewyland says:

    Like you, Doris, I read the Black Stallion books and the Island Stallion, Red Stallion, and every other horse book in my local library. The best one of all, to my mind, was “Smokey the Cowhorse” by Will James. He actually wrote real horses, rather than fantasy creatures.

    Like most of you I’ve always been a voracious reader of any and every thing. As a kid, in addition to horse books, I loved historical stories of all kinds, from all eras. Guess what I majored in? My Hubs introduced me to old-time science fiction – Heinlein, Asimov, etc. For some reason neither of us are terribly enthralled by more recent stuff. I was seduced into mysteries by Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christy – later by Hillerman and Parker.

    Two of my favorite authors in romantic suspense are Nora Roberts (of course) and Jayne Ann Krentz, and I think my voice is similar to theirs (not that I’m in their league).

    Fun post.

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    • Doris says:

      Somehow, I can see you reading the horse books. Like you I enjoyed Heinlein but didn’t get into Azimov as much. Of course Sayers, brilliant. Isn’t it amazing how many favorites we have. I love reading who inspired and influenced writers. Best to you Kate, and you are in their league as far as I’m concerned. Doris

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  7. Wranglers says:

    I too read the Black Stallion books, as a young teen my favorite book was Tarzan, then Zane Grey and true Crime Stories. I read so much, even though I’m not aware of it, I’m probably a combination. Thanks for the thoughts on influences. Cher’ley

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    • Doris says:

      Cher’ley, the more I think about it, I believe most of us were avid readers. My thoughts are, even if we’re not aware of it, our favorites do influence our work, and from what others have said, and the quality of their work, that’s not a bad thing. Doris

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  8. Really enjoyed this post Doris. Are you sure we’re not sisters? Your influences were much the same as mine, except I’d definitely have to throw in Zane Gray, Jack London, Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Jane Eyre. I was a prolific reader by age ten, reading adult books by that time, and discussing them with our local librarian. She knew I had an insatiable thirst for reading and it was she who really was my biggest influence!

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    • Doris says:

      Linda, what a gift that librarian gave you. The one in our library wouldn’t let me check out the adult books, so I’d wait for another one and then check them out. (But then I wanted to read what I wanted to read.)

      I still remember London and Dickens, but didn’t read much Hardy or Gray. I was big into non-fiction and poetry those years. I still remember reading Hiroshima and Death Be Not Proud. They made a huge inpact on me.

      Doris

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  9. Travis says:

    I like how varied some of your influences are. There are a ton with me, but Chekhov comes to mind first. Often read one work of an author because I’m trying to read one of everybody. But if something really blows me away I’ll read more. Dostoevsky, Don Winslow, James Ellroy, and Cormac McCarthy come to mind. I love to read things that are done well in ways I haven’t seen before.

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    • Doris says:

      Travis, I can see your influences and I love that. I also enjoy reading the ‘uniquely’ but well written piece. I remember reading the collaborated retelling of Frankenstein that Dean Koontz did. That blew me away, but didn’t like the follow up books in the series. Here’s to more wonderful stories by great writers, including you. Doris

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  10. Laura Ingalls Wilder tops the list for me as a child, but, I, too, read the Black Stallion, Old Yeller, and other animal stories (surprised, right?!) Later, it was All Creatures Great and Small series and a few romance books thrown in. Amazing how we have influencers and now we (hopefully) are influencers! Great post, Doris!!

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    • Doris says:

      Thank you Gayle. I confess, I never read the Wilder books. They just didn’t appeal to me as a child. (Sigh). I really can see how your reading influenced or your life influenced your reading, especially the animal stories.

      Here’s to the future and those whose lives we will touch, for we all will. Doris

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  11. S J Brown says:

    I was fortunate enough to have access to a book mobile when I was young. This led to a huge variety of books I devoured as a child. Each one touched me at the time for a period of time until I discovered the next one. As an adult the variety continues.

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