Fan Joel Arellano recently asked me what writers inspired me. Every author writes from a font of knowledge and a stew of weird ingredients created from a life’s worth of experience – where we grew up, how we were raised, and what we consumed over those (for me) long 52 years now. But one big piece of this is the other writers we have read. So here, in no particular order, is a non-comprehensive list of some of the writers who have inspired me, and why.
Sherri S. Tepper: I first encountered Ms. Tepper’s work in the supermarket checkout line. There was a tiny book wrap there over the bubble gum and the conveyor belt, and some sci fi aficionado had stocked her book After Long Silence there. I picked it up ’cause I needed something to read and it had a pretty cover, and it pretty much changed my life. Tepper became one of those “gotta buy the hardcover” authors, mostly because her stories haunted me. I would read them in a rush, and then think about them for days and days, especially Beauty, The Gate to Women’s Country and A Plague of Angels. Sharp-eyed readers will see some connections between the last one and the ecologiclaly friendly redemption society in my forthcoming book Dropnauts. I wish I could have met her before she passed away in 2016, but at least she missed the Trump years. I wonder what she would have made of them.
Angel Martinez: Angel hates it when I call her “prolific,” so I’ll just say she has put out an amazing body of work, suffering through a number of publisher closures and still managing to write books that are bright, funny, and sometimes deeply moving and tragic. And she has been both a friend and mentor to me since we met in… 2013, I want to say? She even read and corrected all of The River City Chronicles for me as I was posting it as a blog serial a few years back. Her place on this list is well-deserved.
Peter F. Hamilton: His Commonwealth series thrilled the sci-fi freak in me, especially when he used trains to transport goods between worlds. His living space stations were a template for Forever, and his rocketing plots taught me how to throw a little fire under my own.
Kim Fielding: One of my other dearest author friends, Kim’s my local go-to. She lives about an hour south of here, so we’re practically neighbors. Sounding board, fellow SFWA inductee, and all around partner in crime, Kim always inspires me with her boundless energy and drive to make a go of whatever she is writing. Plus, if I need someone to talk to at 2 AM, she’s almost always awake and writing.
Anne McCaffrey: Another author I wish I’d met. She provided a template for me for sci-fantasy (before I even knew it had a name) with her Dragonriders of Pern books, and I will always be grateful to her for letting me spend time in such an amazing and beautiful (albeit dangerous) world. Plus, her green dragon riders were some of the first queer characters I encountered in spec fic, subtle as they were.
Rory Ni Coileain: Pronounced “nih quillin,” Rory was one of the first people I met in person at a con – Rainbowcon 2, to be exact. She had a booth behind the QSF one, and we spent a bunch of time chatting during the con. Watching her come into her own these last few years has been a joy, and she has been part fast-friend and part spiritual advisor to both Mark and I through a number of trials and tribulations. Plus she rights like an angel.
Nancy Springer: Nancy wrote Larque on the Wing, one of the first spec fic books I ever read with a gay protagonist – sort of. It’s a fantastic book, and goes a long way toward explaining why women love gay romance so much – there’s a secret gay man inside each of them. 😉 We’re now friends on FB, one of the few things I am grateful to social media for.
Cari Z. and Tash McAdam: Two years ago, I decided to do Pitch Wars – a contest to win a writing mentor – for the first time. Two of my FB friends in my queer circles were doing the same, but in different genre, and I reached out to them to see if they wanted to start a chat group to commiserate and celebrate. We did, and have continued it ever since. Both have been blessings at building up my confidence, and at being sounding boards for all of my agent query questions. Love you two!
That’s a start. I’m sure I could go on and on and on if I had the time. There are so many amazing writers who have touched my life, either through the pages of their work or more directly. But these are some of those who have had the most direct impact.
To my writer friends, which writers have inspired you and/or impacted your work, and how?