First up: Stephen King
I got into his stories from the movies. In fact, the very first movie I remember seeing at the theaters was Stephen King’s “The Shining.” I’m not talking about the newer version that came out more than ten years ago. The original Steven Spielberg version back in the 1980s with Jack Nicholson and the axe hacking at the bathroom door and his famous one-liner, “Here’s Johnny!” Yup. I saw that movie when it first came out.
I was seven-years-old.
Sufficed to say, I had nightmares about it. It annoyed my father and we stopped going to the theaters after that. But my mother had all the books: Carrie, Pet Cemetery, Christine, Cujo, Salem’s Lot, and so on and blah . . . blah . . . blah.
When I became older, around 11, I began reading the stories. At this time, my father was renting them on VHS tapes. It was quite an interesting scenario to see him watching the movie, “Pet Cemetery,” while I was sitting on the couch reading the novel. I discovered that no amount of acting and directing can beat the written word on those pages.
Next up: Terry Brooks
When older, I started to explore other genres. I became a big fantasy reader during my teen years. Yes, I did read J. R. R. Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings.” But my very first taste of fantasy was Terry Brooks’, “The Sword of Shannara.” This was 700+ pages of adventure with druids and magical swords and dwarves. He hooked me in to the point where I had to start buying the hardcover copy of his stories because I was tearing the paperback novels apart at the number of times I read them.
You know that a kid is hooked into books when during Christmas they open a large cardboard box and find more than 25 fantasy novels inside. And the kid cheers in happiness. Yes, I CHEERED ABOUT IT AND I AM DAMN PROUD TO ADMIT IT!
Next person, and a strange person indeed: Neil Gaiman
I’m still learning things about him, even visiting his website through the URL on my sidebar. My older sister’s ex-husband introduced me to Mr. Gaiman’s writing during my adult years. Well, they were still married at the time (not my sister and Mr. Gaiman - the other dude) and he was a comic book junkie.
Sidebar: My family was comic book junkies too. My mother had a subscription through Marvel Comics and Dark Horse to receive several comics through the mail every two months. You can imagine the excitement my brother and I had when those came in wrapped in the brown paper. “Thor” was my absolute favorite.
Anyway, the ex had tons of graphic novels, and several of them were Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman.” They are incredible depictions of the anthropomorphic personifications of Death, Dream, Destiny, Despair, Desire (you’re seeing a pattern here - aren’t you), and Delirium. I don’t think I can put into words Mr. Gaiman’s creative talents. He just makes you think about the world around us and that there is more out there than what we can see and touch.
Fourth person, and because I need a lady in here somewhere: Octavia Butler
She was a rarity among rarities: an African American science fiction writer. My sister introduced me to Ms. Butler’s work, “The Parable of the Sower,” while I was still reading Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels. Unlike the other stories of adventure, fantasy, and suspense where you feel as if you are standing in the room watching the characters, she made the reader BECOME the character. I felt the happiness, pain, and sorrow. I walked in their footsteps. And when I lifted my head away from the pages, I had to take a moment to remember who I was.
There is a difference between a good writer who puts you into the scene and a great writer who will make you live every moment of it. Octavia Butler was a great writer.
And last (but certainly not least), my all-time favorite author who is the bread to my butter, the peanut butter to my jam, and the sensei to this humble grasshopper as she hopes to one day snatch the pebble from his proverbial hand - which I would have to do it figuratively since he died in 1849 . . .
- the man whom I wish to someday become without going through the cosmetic surgery and cross-dressing . . .
- the man whose short stories and poems are known worldwide. And if you don’t know any than poo-poo on you and tsk-tsk at such laxity . . .
- do I want to become his literary sex slave? Well, that would be a little freaky since he is still sort of, um, dead . . .
- the true master of the macabre who surpasses everyone else who would falsely wear such a stolen crown . . .
Drum roll, maestro!
Edgar Allen Poe
I am a Poe girl. I knew of EAP (see, I am so familiar with him that I can just use his initials) before I even heard of Stephen King. While young, I shared my bedroom with my older sister. So I received many hand-me-downs, including her books. One of these books was a collection of short stories from various authors. I think the book was titled, “Ghost Stories.” Inside the cover was EAP’s most famous short story, and I do mean short: 5 pages long. “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
This story of psychological torment and relentless guilt fascinated me more than scared me. How could a person’s eye cause their death by their loyal manservant? It was the only Poe story I had in my possession until high school, where I befriended a girl who had a book with some more of EAP’s works. My next taste of him involved the story and poem, “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Raven.” Then during my adult years, I was at a book fair held inside the local mall. I happened upon the novel featured in the above picture. SCORE! So many stories lurked inside . . . see how many you recognize.
The Imp of the Perverse
The Tell-Tale Heart
A Descent into the Maelstrom
The Cask of Amontillado
The Premature Burial
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Masque of the Red Death
The Man of the Crowd
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Oval Portrait
The Gold Bug
Ms. Found in a Bottle
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Purloined Letter
Okay. There was one other thing I wanted to mention: the fascinating fact concerning my writing. When going through the list of my favorite authors and then looking at my own manuscripts, I have discovered that I am trying to emulate all of them all at once. I am combining all these authors’ characteristics to create my own special voice and writing style. It’s almost as if I took all of their stories, diced them up, baked them into an apple pancake souffle topped with powdered sugar, and gorged on it. And now, through my typing fingers, I am regurgitating the lessons I have learned from them.
Ew! A bad example. I think I’ll end the post now.