Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Books you remember and influenced you

Have you ever read a book you never forgot? Maybe it impacted you personally or maybe it just let you slip away from the world for a couple of hours at a time and at the end you were bummed the story was over?

Let's talk about some of our favorite books and why they are on your favorites list. How did a book impact your life?

I'm going to start with my friend and critique partner Nora LeDuc. Her latest novel, titled Murder Came Calling, was just released. Now, I have read all of Nora's books, minus the ones that are no longer in print. BUMMER. But, Murder Came Calling is my favorite of hers.


Because of the heroine, Annie. She's strong and vulnerable. Intelligent but unworldly. She cracks me up! Put her with the hero and Sam, and you just never know what will happen.

I am so glad this book made it into print! Congratulations, Nora! www.noraleduc.com

Linda Howard had the most impact on my reading and writing career.


It was when I read All the Queen's Men by Linda Howard that I fell in love with romantic suspense and wanted to write my very own.

The idea of a heroine involved in undercover operations floored me, intrigued me, and made me want to be a super secret agent. Don't laugh! This happened when I was well out of my teen years, so this was not a young girl's fantasy of "I want to be a ballerina." :-)

Afetr I read All the Queen's Men, I started writing my first novel, It Happens in Threes which was published this year.

See what reading a good book can do!

Born in Fire by Nora Roberts was a smash hit for me.


The heroine, Maggie Concannon, was a glass artist who made works of art using a technique called glass blowing.

Yeah, so.

So. . . I had never heard of glass blowing. But Nora's description of how it was done and the visual images of the art she painted in her words made me research it. Then you know what I did?


I took a glass blowing class. I found a place in Newburyport, MA and took my very first glass blowing class in the middle of winter. I made three glass paperweights. They may not necessarily be a work of art, but they are beautiful to me and every time I see them I'm reminded of how I got there. And for the record, I have taken several classes since. Last year, I made glass Christmas trees. Okay, so I'm not exactly talented, but I have fun and I can say I made that when I point to the tilting glass tree sitting on a bookshelf.

Who said genre fiction does not make you think?? Whoever did (and you know who you are) is so completely wrong and I am positive proof.

I could go on and on! I will stop for now and give you all a chance to share the books that have impacted your life or have been memorable for some reason. I'll share more later.


Alexis Morgan June 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM  

It just so happens that I've been rereading old favorites the last couple of weeks. Linda Howard's Midnight Rainbow--man, oh, man, the hero in that book will always own a piece of my heart. Grant Sullivan is the classic wounded hero, and I'm sure that he has influenced all of my own heroes. At least two of Rachel Lee's Conard County series hold places of honor on my keeper shelf--Miss Emmaline and the Archangel, and Lost Warriors both still bring tears to my eyes when I read them.

Alexis Morgan

Pauline B Jones June 23, 2009 at 11:18 AM  

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart. I saw the Disney movie, realized it was a book and went hunting.

Georgette Heyer (great characters, made me laugh)

Helen McInnes (wow)

Alastair Mclean (feled my love of high adventure/action)

Elizabeth Cadell (great characters and romance)

And when I was young: Anne of Green Gables, Daddy Long Legs, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Good question!

Gabi Stevens June 23, 2009 at 12:52 PM  

BEWITCHING by Jill Barnett It was the first book in years (at that time)that made me laugh and cry. It made me want to write books that touched poeple's emotions without the cheap tricks some authors use.

Lately I can't get away from the beauty of Twain's prose and ideas in HUCKLEBERRY FINN, or the use of imagery in Ray Bradbury's DANELION WINE. OF course I teach both those books, but still, those elements get me every time.
--Gabi Stevens

Blythe Gifford June 23, 2009 at 4:34 PM  

KATHERINE, by Anya Seton. It sparked my interest in the 14th century and English royal bastards. Today, I write books set in the 14th century..featuring English royal bastards!

It's astounding to see that connection so strongly!

Denise June 23, 2009 at 8:42 PM  

Alexis -

I have read every one of Linda Howard's books, except the nocturne one that came out this year.

She is truly a mentor for me.


Denise June 23, 2009 at 8:44 PM  

Pauline -

Daddy Long Legs? Never heard of it.

Explain (wow) on Helen McInnes. :-)


Denise June 23, 2009 at 8:48 PM  

Gabi -

Teachers are amazing! What age do you teach?

Thanks for sharing the author who made you want to write those books that touch people's emotions. I love those kinds of stories!


Denise June 23, 2009 at 8:49 PM  

Blythe -

What about the 14th century fascinated you?


Ceri Hebert June 23, 2009 at 9:09 PM  

Nora Roberts is a huge influence, especially her Three Sisters trilogy. Also Mists Of Avalon and the Chronicles of Pyrdain by Lloyd Alexander (who I had the pleasure of speaking to briefly before he passed away). I'd love to write a fantasy, not a sci-fi.

Growing up I had a series by Barbara Van Tuyl and Pat Johnson about a young woman and her race horse. I adored that series. And also a book called Constance by Patricia Clapp about Constance Hopkins who came over on the Mayflower (basically it was based on her diaries-she was a real person). I read it in 7th grade and over and over and over again. Made me want to work at Plymouth Plantation at one time.

BinnieB June 23, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

Louisa May Alcott. Little Women. I kept trying to rearrange the character pairings. I wanted Jo to end up with Laurie. I used to plot and re-plot the story. I think that was the embryonic beginning of my writing.

Mary Stewart. Madam, will you talk? Exquisite characterization, tightly plotted. The setting in Provence, Avignon and environs is almost a character in itself. I still remember his relentless pursuit of her, and the meal they shared…little fish, black grapes and apricots. And of course, the four times Richard asked, “Who was Johnny?”

Celeste DeBlasis. The Tiger’s Woman. Again, wonderful characterization. Even the most minor character was carefully fleshed out. And talk about a tortured hero!

Linda Howard. Midnight Rainbow. Sometimes when I open my purse, I. pretend that I’m Jane, astonishing Grant Sullivan with the myriad of exotic to practical items that seem to come forth from her purse in an endless array.

Loretta Chase. Lord of Scoundrels. My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. And Loretta Chase’s take on it is unforgettable. I’ve re-read the book and re-read it again.

Linda Howard. Death Angel. In this book, the author takes a man that you would think you’d want to hate…and makes him into his intended victim’s only possible salvation. Remarkable tour de force, IMHO.

Anne McCaffrey. Ring of Fear. The first novel I ever read where the hero was less than perfect. He was short...but that certainly didn't interfere with his horsemanship, or his macho sexuality.

Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz). Double Dealing. Another unique hero. He stammered. Couldn't say words that began with "sh..." The poor guy wanted so badly to curse. But he wasn't hesitant in any other way.

Jennifer Crusie. Anyone But You. When I first read this book, I laughed until I cried. The people in the car with me wanted to know what was wrong. Not a thing! Heck, what could be wrong...the book had a basset hound named Fred! When I got back home, I ordered 7 copies of that book. And gave them out to friends that I thought needed cheering up. And told them not to give the books back, but to pass them on. Several years later, the book was reprinted. I bought 7 more, and did it all over again...

I could go on. And on...

Denise June 24, 2009 at 5:13 AM  

Binnie -

I am so amazed at the variety of books.

I totally concur on the Death Angel book. At first you did want to hate the hero, but then . . .

Thanks to your description, I am going to have to get the Jennifer Crusie book, Anyone But You.


Denise June 24, 2009 at 5:15 AM  

Ceri -

I loved that trilogy!

Fantasy? Really? That is great. I hope you write one!


Denise June 24, 2009 at 5:23 AM  

A few more from me. . .

Some of Elizabeth Lowell's older books had the best love scenes ever written IMHO. Probably why my first romantic scene in IHT is several pages long. :-)

Janet Evanovich and Jonathan Kellerman audio books are the first books I got my father hooked on. Janet was the first person I ever stood in line for 2 hours to get a book signed from.

Now, my father and best friend have me hooked on David Baldacci. I love his twists!

Who in fluenced my writing suspense? After first reading Linda Howard, I found Carla Neggers, Iris Johansen, Heather Graham, Catherine Coulter, and Lisa Jackson. These ladies all influenced me in "I wanna write suspense like that!"

Charlotte Phillips June 24, 2009 at 7:06 AM  

Nancy Drew introduced me to both mysteries and strong female protags. My fifth grade teacher insisted I put Nancy aside for a week and read Little Women, where I found a whole new world waiting for me. There is not enough thanks in the world for Ms. Weaver and Louisa May Alcott.

Michelle Harris June 24, 2009 at 10:18 AM  

The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe made me want to write more than anything else I can think of.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X was one of the most important books I've ever read. I read it for the first time when I was 14 and again at 25 and again in my 30s.

Walter Moseley's Easy Rawlins series is another favorite. I think Mouse is one of the best characters ever written.

Denise June 24, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

Charlotte -

I totally forgot about the Nancy Drew books.

And Little Women. . .both great, inspiring books.


Denise June 24, 2009 at 11:15 PM  

Michelle -

Some very inspiring people and stories you've followed. To have read Malcolm X 3 times, it must have affected you quite a lot.

I have never read a book more than twice. At least not on purpose.


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