Like any writer, I owe an awful lot to authors who have inspired me. My stories–and your enjoyment of them–would not be the same without those who have gone before me and made a favorable impression upon me in terms of style, dialogue, language usage, and so much more.
So who are some of these inspirational forerunners and peers? And what has each contributed to the fiction that GP Hutchinson produces? In the scope of a post like this, I can’t list them all, but I’d love to share the top few.
Influential Authors from Other Genres
You may be surprised to learn that the first author I cite as having influenced the development of my own writing is a children’s book author from Australia. She also happens to be a writing coach. Marg McAlister has helped me tremendously with some key writing skills. She refers to herself as a “point-of-view purist,” and as such, she taught me to aim to write in such a fashion that the reader feels as though she is inside the head of the main character in any given scene. If you ever feel the character’s fear or stress or relief while reading my fiction, then you’re experiencing the benefit of what Marg taught me.
Bestselling author James Patterson is the master of short scenes and chapters that keep a story flying along at a breakneck pace. I personally love that aspect of Patterson’s style and have conscientiously worked at integrating it into my own novels.
Displaying an enviable command of the English language, top-tier thriller writer Dean Koontz is one of my very favorite authors. Koontz graces the world of popular fiction with prose that is often absolutely poetic. He proves himself to be profoundly aware of the most sublime beauties and the most disturbing evils of our present world. His novels demonstrate a unique balance of seriousness and humor, social commentary and great storytelling. I yearn to transfer those characteristics over into my genres, settings, and plots.
What About Western Authors?
In my opinion, the late Elmore Leonard remains one of the absolute greatest writers of Old West fiction. Some people say his style was minimalist, but I find it as rich in detail as a Grand Canyon sunrise. Leonard created and described characters you can see and hear just as if you were in the room with them, settings you can feel and smell just as though you were trudging through one of Arizona’s roasting-hot alkaline deserts, and plots that–while simple–continue to rivet the reader’s attention. I’m sure I’ll be studying Elmore Leonard for quite some time to come, striving to develop a “voice” that echoes his style.
Speaking of a writer whose work hearkens back to Elmore Leonard, I personally believe that author C.M. Curtis–a relative newcomer to the writing of Westerns–may emerge as one of this generation’s premier authors of Old West fiction. Curtis inspires me immensely in that, while he is new, his works are climbing the charts quickly–and deservedly so. In a market that is flooded with hastily written and prematurely published novels, he writes high-quality, action-packed fiction. He’s one of those who, I believe, may help bring about a revival of popular interest in Westerns. What he’s doing is truly worth emulating.
And finally on my short list of authors who’ve inspired me, I feel I have to mention the late Robert B. Parker. While I’m not at all fond of the gratuitous use of foul language in his novels, I am quite impressed by practically all other aspects of his trademark skill–crisp, punchy dialogue. The style just works in Westerns. And readers enjoy it.
So that’s a quick roundup of the authors who have most influenced my style of writing, my plotting, and my creation and development of characters. Maybe after reading Strong Convictions you’ll want to pick up a novel by one of these great authors and find yet another favorite.