Most Influential Books


The Sneetches and Other Stories - Dr. Seuss

I challenge anyone to argue with me that Dr. Seuss wasn't a legitimate writer of fantasy. And so, I credit Dr. Seuss as my first influence within the genre. The Sneetches were one of my favorite books growing up. Although, The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas were equally influential.


Ramona the Brave - Beverly Cleary

In the fifth grade, I remember reading Ramona the Brave. I loved it so much I immediately found and read every other Beverly Cleary book in the school library. Ms. Cleary was the first author I proactively searched and read. Where my desire to read her books waned once I was in middle school, I am sure I read most everything she wrote before 1980, including Ramona the Pest, Runaway Ralph, and The Mouse and the Motorcycle.


The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkein

Like most writers of fantasy and science fiction, Tolkein remains a huge influence. This was mandatory reading when I was in the seventh grade and I found nothing mandatory about it. From this book, my joy in reading epic fantasy was born. Where I find the Lord of the Rings trilogy fascinating, it didn't influence me as much as The Hobbit. In fact, I didn't read The Lord of the Rings until my college years due to my disappointment that Bilbo was not the protagonist.


Pawn of Prophecy - David Eddings

Where The Hobbit represented my first read in epic fantasy, Mr. Eddings Belgariad represented my first series. Pawn of Prophecy is the first book in the Belgariad series. I still remember waiting impatiently for book #5 to come out so I could finish the series. It was the first time I anticipated the release of a book. After finishing the Belgariad, I couldn't wait to read Mr. Edding's other series as soon as they were released: the Malloreon, Elenium, and Tamuli.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling

I have read all seven books to my children at least twice, which will remain one of my pinnacle memories as a parent forever. I had all the voices down (at least good enough to impress my kids) and when we got into a book, it became a nightly ritual to read way past bedtime. The Chamber of Secrets is my favorite of the set.


On Writing - Stephen King

After finishing my first draft of The Magician of Earolyn, I realized it was a 300,000 word mess. I was quite despondent and nearly gave it all up. That was when I read this book and it motivated me to fix it. Mr. King's novels represent some of the best in horror and fantasy. I particularly enjoyed Christine, Misery, and Carrie. He is a fantastic writer and I never learned so much on the craft of writing as I did with this one book. (Now, The Magician of Earolyn is a 100,000 word novel and I'm proud of the effort - even though I'm still tweaking it.)


Tell No One - Harlan Coben

OK. I know. Mr. Coben is not a writer of fantasy or science fiction. But I am a huge fan of his books. My favorite is Tell No One, which remains the only book I literally could not put down. His pacing is phenomenal. His dialog, quick-hittingly potent. I have found myself incorporating many of Mr. Coben's techniques in my novel What Lurks Within.