Pants on Fire

After reading a really good book, or watching a TV show or movie, I find myself adopting the speech patterns of a character that I identify with. Sometimes it sticks around for a few days, other times it sticks around for months or even years. If you’ve ever watched Deadwood you can probably guess what my favorite curse word was for a very long time.

There are a conglomeration of authors I need to thank for who I am today as a writer. Embarrassing as it is, I must begin with the myriad of authors who wrote for Dragonlance, but in particular Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Thank you. I discovered a love of fantasy literature through your guiding hands. Without Dragonlance I may never have graduated past reading about girls and their horses. Without them, I may never have discovered the authors who would later directly influence my writing.

The first author that inspired me to write like her was Patricia C. Wrede. When I read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, I immediately began writing a novel about a princess who wanted to have an adventure, so in the style of Princess Cimorene she began learning about swordplay, magic, and cooking. I went through a couple versions of the first few chapters before I saved it to a floppy disk never to be heard from again—which is exactly where it belongs.

The next few years of my life were full of discarded writing attempts, all done in mimicry of some favored book or movie. Sometimes the influences were unintentional, more frequently they were deliberate. I had folders of role-plays done with friends over instant messenger, set in whatever author’s world seduced us at the time.

When I was about ten years old, I discovered Tamora Pierce who remains to this day one of my favorite authors. She writes about strong female protagonists who won’t take no for an answer. Even better? They’re geared for young adults and take place in fantasy worlds. She’s who I want to be when I grow up. I want my books to grow up to be like her books. If somebody were to read one of my novels and tell me I wrote like Tamora Pierce, it would be the biggest honor I could receive.

While Tamora is one of the biggest overall influences on my writing, it has a bit of an author of the week flair to it. That means instead of writing only like my favorite author, bits and pieces of whatever books I’m reading, and TV shows I’m watching, creep into it. As I go back through my novel I can point out what I was reading, or what show I was watching, when pages were written. My goal is to edit those influences out, but it’s more likely that I’ll actually be editing them further in. If I can’t get rid of them, I’ll just have to find a way to make them my own.

Someday I’ll write a novel and say, “This book is influence free.” On that day, I hope whomever I’m speaking to will straight up tell me, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.