As a writer, I am often asked about the authors that inspire me to write. Normally when presented with this question, I rattle off a couple names that are likely to be recognized by the person asking the question (Neil Gaiman and Stephen King are two of my favorite go-to answers) and leave it at that. However, having been given the opportunity to discuss at length the authors I admire, I thought this time I’d drop a few names that aren’t as likely to be recognized and talk about how their work has inspired mine.
David Mack- I discovered David Mack by reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, to which he contributed several cover art pieces. In addition to being an accomplished artist, David Mack is also the author of a graphic novel series called Kabuki. The story follows the mental unraveling of the top agent in a secret, government-funded cabal of assassins. Think Kill Bill meets Jason Bourne meets Fight Club. The writing is subversive and intelligent, the plot is poignant and the artwork is stunning. Mack’s work remains an inspiration to me because it features so many interesting, multi-faceted characters, virtually all of which happen to be female.
R. A. Salvatore- Whenever I ask people about the authors that got into reading fantasy, I usually hear names like J. R. R. Tolkein and George R. R. Martin, both of whom are undeniably fantastic authors. However, whenever anyone asks me about the author that got me into reading fantasy books, I tell them about R. A. Salvatore. A hugely prolific author, Salvatore gives unexpected depth and grit to the D&D universe Forgotten Realms with empathetic characters and storylines that explore philosophy and drama as much as they pursue action and adventure.
Charles de Lint- There are a few things that distinguish someone as a really good author to me. Among those things is the ability to write captivating short stories and the ability to create an immersive world that makes me actually want to go there. Charles de Lint does both of things and he does them incredibly well. De Lint sets the majority of his stories in the fictional town of Newford, which is reminiscent of modern-day San Francisco, California. If San Francisco was rife with mythological figures and magic, that is. De Lint examines themes of social conscience and humanity through a revolving cast of characters who are relatable as they are magical.
Jhonen Vasquez- Many people might be surprised to learn that I consider the creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac to be one of my major literary influences, but it takes a truly talented writer to combine humor and hyper-violence so very eloquently. What appears at first glance to be a sophomoric comic that revels in shockingly graphic violence, JTHM is actually a dense, wickedly funny satire of post-modern industrial society and alienation in the information age. Vasquez also examines themes of social conscience and humanity, but whereas Charles de Lint focuses on the beauty and redemptive qualities of his characters, Vasquez casts an unflinching eye on the flaws, the dark urges and ugliness within us all. And then he makes you laugh about it.
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Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG13
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