The Footsteps I Follow: Authors I Admire
by Matthew Yaeger
It feels counter-productive to try and promote my own book by writing a Guest Post about authors that I admire, but my love of writing stems from my love of reading, and it is through these authors that I’ve (hopefully) learned a few things about the craft. I’ve heard people identify as writers who also mention that they do not like to read and that’s always struck me as strange. Can you imagine someone who wants to make a movie say that they don’t like to actually watch movies?
Reading a good book is like looking at a painting in a museum. You can’t just reproduce it from looking at it, but you can admire the brushstrokes, the techniques used, and the vision of the creator. A great painting can inspire ideas in the mind of an artist.
For example, when I was very young I had ideas for writing stories but shoved them aside because in my mind they didn’t seem to fit into specific genres. I was trying too hard to write like authors I was familiar with and not what I wanted to write. Then I was introduced to the writings Kurt Vonnegut, Tim Powers and Philip K. Dick. That opened my eyes that writing was not about forcing ideas into neat little genre packages. For someone in their early teens, this was an eye-opener, akin to discovering Jazz or Rock and Roll. I learned not to fear writing what I wanted to write, no matter how odd the idea was. I may never be as skilled as Dick was, to be able to write a heartwarming story about sentient tennis shoes, but the least I can do is be true to my ideas.
I admire many authors as both a fan and as someone who is amazed at the techniques they use. Elmore Leonard will tell you everything you need to know about a character in a line of dialog. Tad Williams can tie together dozens of plot threads flawlessly without it feeling contrived. Robert McCammon makes you feel like you are inside his characters heads. Joe Lansdale has a natural rhythm to his style that can carry any plot. Stephen King uses honest depictions of human nature to draw readers into the story he is spinning, while Terry Pratchett uses humor to lull a reader in before they realize they’re invested in what happens next.
I can go on for hours about different authors and how I not only love the stories and characters they’ve created, I am also awed by their skill. I’ve spent a lot of my life with my head within clouds that were carefully constructed, it only seems only natural to invite people to spend time time in my fictional worlds. Maybe someday I will even have the same impact on someone the my favorite authors had on me.
My book, Bedtime Stories for the Insomniac, is a collection of short horror stories. If I’ve done a good job then you might see a few techniques that I’ve learned from the authors I admire, but you will also see my own voice, ideas and style.
Genre – Horror
Rating – PG13
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