This is my second blog in the MFRW 52-week blog challenge.
In conversation years ago with one of the executives where I worked, that executive showed me a book and mentioned its importance to her, its influence on her life. "How is that?" I asked. Her answer: "It convinced me to divorce my husband."
I was floored. Until then, I'd not thought any book could have such a dramatic effect on someone's life or could so strongly influence someone's decisions. I'm glad to say I have never been so influenced by any book as to divorce my husband or make another such momentous decision.
However, that doesn't mean books haven't influenced me.
I learned witty repartee and succinct dialogue from Dick Francis and Robert B. Parker. I learned how to write engrossing scenes of intimacy from Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Christine Feehan. I learned how to inject gently sardonic, wry humor into my characters from Robin McKinley. I learned epic awesomeness from Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings, and Robin Hobb. And I learned what not to do from countless other authors whose writing made me cringe.
But to name one specific book that influenced my life? I can't. I can name books that I've read and reread, which obviously means they meant something to me beyond, "Hey, that's a good story." Something about those books moved me. I found something new in them each time I reread one. Their influence did not convince me to make decisions that held great impact on my life; their influence was subtle.
In their unique ways, those books taught me the elements of good writing. Some might dismiss those authors because they write (or wrote, considering some of them are deceased) commercially successful fiction. Success has no bearing on whether the writing is good. A lot of poorly written books hit the bestseller lists. Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?
So, what book influenced me the most? Those interested in spiritual welfare and character would expect me to name a religious text. Others might think that an instructional guide, such as Stephen King's On Writing or the iconic Elements of Style by E. B. White, deserve that honor--me being a writer and everything. But, if I have to assign a "most influential" award to a single title, I suppose it would have to go to Beauty by Robin McKinley, the most reread book in my personal library.
With deft skill and tact and gentle humor, McKinley breathes new life into an oft-repeated fairy tale that no Disney movie can touch. She imbues her characters with vivid imagery and depth of character without resorting to mind-numbing information dumps or paragraph upon paragraph of boring description. The writing touches upon the lyrical; the reader can almost hear the protagonist speaking. This is the evocative, eloquent level of writing to which I aspire.
I think I came close in The Falcon of Imenotash.