I couldn’t possibly do a Throwback Thursday post without paying tribute to the very books that shaped my childhood, fostered my creativity and inevitably influenced my work. So I’ve ranked my top 5 favorites.
Holes by Louis Sachar. I think what drew me to this book is the mystery. Something as simply and seemingly dull as digging holes in the ground becomes a huge treasure-hunting, mystery-solving adventure. I love when things just aren’t what they seem.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Dare I say it? A school-assigned read makes it way to my top-5 list? The mystery in this book, the puzzle-like game that the Westing heirs have to play, drew me in as I read it in the seventh grade. I found myself turning every page eagerly, devouring the story the way I devoured macaroni and cheese. As a lover of board games and puzzles you can imagine why this book appealed to me. And of course mystery and puzzle-solving has made its way into my current work.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Louis Carroll. Okay, so I’m cheating on this one. I didn’t read the book until my Victorian literature class in college but I did see the Disney film, and however inaccurate it may be, it still communicates the heart of Carroll’s story. When I started writing Captivated it was pointed out to me that the story was similar to Alice in Wonderland. My main character wakes up on a lawn in front of a strange building and can’t remember a thing. Everything about the place sparks her curiosity and yet creeps her out at the same time. I guess I never realized how much this story has influence me over the years.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Talk about things not being what they seem. A wardrobe that is actually a portal to secret world? I mean how genius is that? As a kid I was always having dreams that I’d open a door or a cabinet in my house and end up in some mystical land. I loved this book so much that I even named my cat Aslan.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I bet you saw this one coming. But how could I not pay tribute to the single most influential work to my writing? I constantly find myself starting my critiques of other people’s works with “you know in Harry Potter when…” I bet my writing group is getting tired of it! But this book became such a huge part of my life that I just can’t avoid acknowledging it. I still remember the day that I bought the first Harry Potter book. It was sitting on the shelf at a book fair and I though it looked interesting. Everything from complex world building to an extraordinary villain to the underlying tension throughout the entire series captured my interest and didn’t let me go. I aged as Harry Potter aged. I faced new challenges as he faced new challenges. Harry became one of my best childhood friends and the magic, destiny, and relationships became some of my best writing influence.