Twelve was a poignant age for me, for both reading and writing, even video games. So, much of my book collection stems from this era. A creative explosion occurred for me around this age, like coming of age, only in the writing realm instead of normal puberty. The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Neverending Story, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass—all these fantasy classics were making a major impact on my own fantasies I was writing at the time.
I also attended good Christian schools, so the literature I read there helped influence the Christian themes and values seen in many of my books. Some of these included Pilgrims’ Progress, and a neat little book explaining the origins of various idioms like “it’s raining cats and dogs”! Which reminds me of one of my favorite reference books, a baby name book. Great for finding names for both characters and places, especially if you want them to have specific meanings. A favorite name of mine I drew from there is “Olette”, meaning “small, winged one”. I named my little, winged fox this in my middle grade fantasy, The Last Star.
Around age twelve, I also finally got to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, my now-favorite-video-game-of-all-time, which Mum bought after my wanting it since I was eight. She didn’t know my secret obsession over it, but after seeing it at a friend’s house, I was hooked. I actually rushed home that night to write a comic on it. It was the first video game I’d ever seen with 3D graphics, a real, intricate story-line, and characters you could interact with throughout, like being in a book! It’s as good as any book with its unique, quirky characters, great plot and fantasy elements. All of above inspired books I was working on at the time, such as The Legends of Surprisers series, Loz: Zephyr’s Islands, and Loz: The Mass.
Over the next few years, I honestly don’t remember reading a lot besides the Harry Potter series, plus various other books I got in book sales. I was very busy working on many of my own books. However, even Harry Potter helped inspired the series I wrote around this time, The Hero Chronicles.
The next slue of books mentioned are actually a mix of books I’ve discovered between about eighteen til the present, at age twenty-three. I know that, after Aaron, a best friend of mine, bought me the movie of Howl’s Moving Castle for my birthday, that I soon after read the book and became hooked on Diana Wynne Jones. I consider her a great inspirer to this day, as we seem to share a love for quirky characters, unique fantasy worlds, and intriguing plots. I truly loved Castle in the Air and the first Chrestomanci Chronicles. I am still itching to get my hands on a copy of Dogsbody. I read the blurb and first few pages in Barnes and Noble once, and it inspired me to write my middle grade fantasy, The Last Star, which I hope to procure an agent for in the near future.
I also attended more book fairs at my local library during this time, and one of the books I picked up was a fantasy by Nancy Springer called Chains of Gold. It has some supernatural elements and also tells the story of a young couple daringly escaping a terrible ritual of their people. I think it subconsciously inspired my novel Bloodmaiden, published by Old Line Publishing last year.
I also discovered the world of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight. Now, for all you haters, I had no clue this was a world-wide fetish or else becoming one at the time. I’d never heard of it, because I generally don’t keep up with what’s going on in the world. I just saw it one day in my college bookstore, read the blurb, and new I must have this book. I’d never done vampires, never been into them, but the concept of romantic, possibly good vampires intrigued me. I usually have honing skills for finding books that I love, and behold, I did it again! The concept of “good” vampires inspired me to create my own in Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress.
Another great vampire book I picked up later—and this one is truly a unique fantasy, so don’t compare to Twilight; all kinds of different stuff going on here—was called Darkangel. I never read the other two in the trilogy though I would like to sometime, but it did inspire me to write a story on gargoyles; you can read the story in October when my Lily in the Snow and Other Elemental Tales is released.
I lately read Loose Girl and Undiscovered Gyrl, having taken on a recent interest in sexual coming-of-age and exploration. I don’t plan on writing anything overly sexual myself, but who knows? Perhaps I’ll write a book someday.
I would also suggest books like The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I seem to have taken on a bit of a horror fetish, which is reflected in several short stories I’ve written as of late. I still don’t reserve much time for reading with all of my writing and promoting. However, one series I am eager to read is Susan Collins’ Hunger Games, especially as I’ve been told by some readers that Bloodmaiden was a comparable read for them.
Thank you for those book recommendations and the insight you gave us on how other stories help inspire you when you write!
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