Influential Authors

One of my favorite GTS authors, Grildrig, wrote up a journal entry detailing some of his most influential authors. I thought this was such a good idea, I had to do the same. [Reposted from DeviantArt]

Gene Wolfe
He showed me what literature could be. I read The Book of the New Sun and the top of my skull lifted off. I had no idea one could write so seriously, so credibly about fantasy. Wolfe pulled from vast intellectual resources to create not just a comprehensive world with rich history, but a feasible new etymology. He only refines his craft with each new novel, using an economy of words and letting the reader happily fill in the blanks, making his books a more interactive experience. A “rereader’s writer”, he often inserts a twist at some point in the story that shocks the reader with the realization that the deeper truth isn’t apparent and the entire story must be reinterpreted. As well, he likes to sprinkle items and tidbits that seem intended to confuse, distract, or otherwise annoy an impatient reader, but which turn out either to be evidence of the larger, living world or are actually significant clues to the deeper truth.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Obvious choice? Vonnegut has mastered packing in as much meaning to as few words as possible. His voice is so strong, he doesn’t need to beat the reader over the head to make his point. He can dance around it and the reader is struck with the impact of everything that hasn’t been said. Beyond this, he is gifted with an incredibly wry, incisive sense of humor that just can’t be learned or imitated. It really is something one can only be born with, which is rather discouraging to a writer inspired by him.

Patricia K. McKillip
When I got out of the Army and was stranded in a town I didn’t know, I spent a lot of time at the library, grabbing interesting-looking books and devouring everything I could—for the information contained, yes, but also for leads for where to head next. I found McKillip’s Riddle Master Trilogy by accident and immediately fell under its spell. I shouldn’t have: the lofty, ephemeral writing should have been off-putting to me, I liked richer flavors and crunchier texture, whereas this was all nuance and nose. But it was so well done, it made such sense, it really felt like it came from another world and that’s what I want when I read a book: to fall into a world. Her style became influential to me as I practiced writing with subtlety and consistent poetry, to generate an atmosphere around the strict descriptions.

Barry Hughart
This guy’s just silly, but that’s what I liked about him. “Liked”, because I revisited his Master Li & Number Ten Ox series, which once I loved, but now I’m more critical. I’m less prone to abandoning myself to the playful romp that they present. These are historical fiction, yes, and they also required a lot of research, yes, but the cloying silliness isn’t something that appeals to me anymore. However, I cannot deny that I myself employ it every once in a while, when I need a sense of things spinning out of control, and my readers have responded very positively to these humorous breaks. So one cannot argue with results, and I have Hughart to thank.

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