There are so many fantastic writers out there that it’s hard to select just a few that influence my writing. It’s a different list than the authors I most enjoy reading (and re-reading), though there is plenty of overlap. That list gets very long very quickly, especially since it encompasses more than 4 decades. When I was planning out what would become Orchids Ablaze, I looked to different authors for very specific reasons. I love Frank Herbert, but attempting a story as complex as The White Plague, much less Dune, didn’t seem to be a good idea for a first attempt. Robert A. Heinlein is another favorite that attempting to emulate appeared doomed to failure, at least for now. It’s good to have goals for the future!
I’ll keep trying to get there, of course. Given that Orchids Ablaze is most akin to a prose (superhero) comic book, I wanted to keep the length to what I felt would appeal to readers of the genre. I wasn’t trying to create the great American novel. I wanted to create a story full of memorable characters that readers would want to read more about. I wanted to sweep the reader up and move right along.
The Top of the Heap (of my books)
The Doc Savage stories felt right for the kind of story I had in mind. Lester Dent got a lot of mileage out of 50-55 thousand words. Planning a story that (relatively) short, I picked through my favorite author list for the ones that started things with a bang and kept going. [Incidentally, Orchids Ablaze ended up a touch over 61 thousand words.]
Robert E. Howard leaped to the front of the pack. He could establish the setting, tone, and type of writing to expect in the first sentence or two. He could build an initial character sketch in incredibly few words.
For streamlined storytelling and action, I found inspiration in Robert B. Parker.
The twisty plots of Alistair MacLean and Robert Ludlum tied for making my head hurt (frequently).
Stan Lee, of course, goes without saying in the superhero comic genre, but Chris Claremont and Doug Moench were equally amazing to me. Jack Kirby, yes as a writer, could suck me into a story in little more than a heartbeat.
Many of my favorite writers were popular in more than one genre, but L.E. Modesitt, Jr. was the author that led me to think of science fiction and fantasy as a spectrum that I could intermix as an author.
And so I set out upon the path to write my own work of fiction, following the lights of giants. I may never reach such heights, but the road they built stretches out before me.