Literature authors that inspire you/get in your head


Wondering how many others find inspiration in specific authors, living or dead, especially those with high artistic aims. You know, people you read in an English class.

The ones who seem most often to be in my head in a weird mix are George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, James Joyce, Nabokov, Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia, Hunter S. Thompson, Toni Morrison, Shakespeare. It makes for a weird word gumbo where I either weave in their words or thoughts or find myself trying to BLOCK their words or thoughts.


Gerald Murnane and Henning Mankell are my most recent inspirations.


Harper Lee!


Longer comment than I intended, but the factor here is an historical author leaving out information the surely they must know.

Perhaps a better way to put it: you can tell the difference between a work that’s real old, and a work that’s kind of old but not really antique, by how much information they give or leave out for the reader.

Nobody wants a long musing on the origins of the Gothic cathedral (which in a way is kind of lazy in its own way), but I also want at least a little context where certain events happens in say the 1820s, or 1830s, or 1840s.

We take for granted decade differences in the 20th century. Why should historical fiction be any different? My only guess is Hugo … wasn’t doing historical fiction in all cases.

But to actually be moved by a work of literature in any way besides anger and frustration is a bit more rare. And not for the reasons they might want me to be to angry, this is important. (If you want to be an activist, go out there and actually be an activist.)

Poe is a positive example of this exception, but mainly in his poetry.

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  • J.K. Rowling
  • Anne Rice
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith

^ The above authors are pretty much the ones that inspire me the most/get in my head. Of course, there are numerous other authors that I enjoy/respect, but I’ll leave it at those three for now. :+1:


Oh, my. There are so many.

  • James Joyce: My favorite author, though I write nothing like him.
  • David Mitchell: A master at creating fantasy based on characters and themes with literary depth.
  • Thomas Pynchon: I often include screwball characters who believe weird stuff. Thanks to Pynchon. Like Joyce, he can be hard to read. But so worth the effort.
  • I love Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, and Jemsyn Ward.
  • … And Stephen King. He’s an unsung hero. From him, I learned that even the weirdest, most way-out fantasy can become a page-turner if you create captivating characters that readers want to follow.

This is far from exhaustive, but it reflects where I’m at right now.


I’m a big fan of Joyce, Morrison, and Shakespeare. Among the others you mentioned, which one do you recommend giving a whirl next? Pynchon?


Interesting group! I’ve read Rowling and Rice, but not Cynthia Leitich Smith. I’ll check her works out.


I like your observation about being able to date the work based on how much detail is put in or left out. That’s so much at the center of a writer’s choice: what to put in and what to leave out.

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Right, for example you can tell how old a romance or horror is, based on the proportion of censorship to the actual content.

These days it takes more to censor a book, because there isn’t as much cultural expectation to “fade to black” for uncomfortable scenes.

Ex. A woman being guillotined, is handled vastly differently depending on if we’re talking about A Tale Of Two Cities made in the 50s, or an adaptation of Vampire memoir writing after the turn of the 21st century.

It kind of makes me wonder what was considered acceptable in 1793 compared to 1896, despite both era basically using basically the same capital punishment implement.

Laws are notoriously incapable of keeping up with cultural changes.

It’s partly why I’m an anarchist.


J.K. Rowling for sure

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J.R.R Tolkien for sure.


A sucker for the russians, always. But my greatest influences have probably been Saramago an more recently, Donna Tart. I love Saramago’s magical realism (and his weird style) and Donna Tart’s obsessive detail and weird, circular storytelling that just keeps sucking you in. How she transforms a story about something seemingly so simple into one goddamn weird trip is amazing

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Historical authors don’t inspire me, really.
Modern writers like Iris Johanson, Patricia Cornwell, and Catherine Anderson inspire me. They are my favorites. :slight_smile: Janet Evonovich is someone I’m getting into also.


allende!! and marquez. and for poetry stan rice

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First off, Pynchon is hard. Especially the novels that will probably still be read in the 22nd century. Like Gravity’s Rainbow, for instance. To read that and understand some of the references, you actually have to understand statistics (like randomness versus predictability) and the differential and integral calculus.

And yet, for all that, it’s quite funny and bizarre. And yet takes a serious look at man’s obsession with war and destruction.

That said, it you want to tackle Pynchon, try The Calling of Lot 49. It’s short and gives you an idea of Pynchon’s absurdist style. It’s set in 1960’s CA, and is populated with right-wing militias, a secret society that may, or may not, be bent on world domination,

Another starting point is Inherent Vice, a mash-up of hippie nostalgia (waaaaay before my time) and crime fiction ala Dan Brown. So you’ve got hippie silliness, drugs, goofy sex and a deep, scary conspriacy. That may, or may not, be happening.

Yup. Pynchon always pokes fun at Conspiracy Theorists.


Update. Pynchon is great, but he does seem dated. If you want a better idea of what “NOW” looks like, I’d try David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas, which is much better than the movie. You can branch out from there since all of his novels are connected in a way. They all use the same mythology and main characters in one book turn up as minor characters, or relatives, in other books.

If you like Morrison and William Faulkner, you’ll enjoy Jemsyn Ward. She writes dark, southern gothic fiction that addresses the impact of slavery and Jim Crow on the south. I loved Sing, Unburied, Sing, which won the National Book Award for 2016. It’s good, Voodoo-based fantasy. But character-centered more than plot-centered (as genre fiction tends to be).


Morrison it is then. Not so sure about the Southern myself. But Gothic is nice.


I have mixed feelings about Nathaniel Hawthorne, I have vague memories of having read him at the beach when I was around thirteen, so it got to me in a very impressionable period.

Some story about a Puritan lady in the pillory.

May be someone else, not sure.


FYI, “Southern Gothic” is a specific genre. If you’ve ever watched AMC’s The Preacher you’ll get a sense of what it looks like in exaggerated form. But in Faulker or Ward’s hands, southern gothic is much more subtle.