Recently I was asked two questions that left thoughts bouncing around in my head for weeks.
"What is your favorite book?" and "Do you have a mentor?"
I answered them simply and quickly when I was asked, but of course with time I managed to figure out why I was still thinking about this: The answers are related.
To answer the first question, I said that my favorite book was Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors collection of short stories. How strange, the reaction was, that someone who identified herself as a chick lit author would have this kind of book as her favorite. I guess it's possible to have a writing personality that differs from my actual personality, or maybe I'm just waiting to let the darkness out.
The answer to the second question is that I didn't/don't have a mentor. (I didn't undergo the kind of training that allows one to meet mentor types.) What I have are stories that stayed with me. You could say I was influenced by them, and maybe my love for them explains why I write this way, what I've written -- and what I intend to write in the future.
Wrong-Way Romance (Sheri Cobb South, YA Romance)
A Sweet Dreams novel? Don't scoff at what is my favorite of the series, and still is one of my favorite novels today. It's sweet and laugh-out-loud funny, and has a plot that isn't about moving away or terminal illness. I like my love stories with bite instead of sap. Because of this novel, or was I like that all along? I can't tell anymore. (PS. Follow the link to Amazon and see how expensive a copy of this can get. If you find it in a Book Sale, consider it treasure! Or send it to me as a gift if it isn't your thing!)
Witch (Christopher Pike/Kevin Christopher McFadden, YA Fantasy/Horror)
I've been called out for writing that is more terse than flowery, and maybe that came about because of the Christopher Pike novels I collected in high school. Witch I single out because it is a heartwrenching story (for a fourteen-year-old definitely), even when told with his clipped tone and short sentences. It's not a style that's inherently better than any other, but I happen to prefer it.
Snow, Glass, Apples (Neil Gaiman, from Smoke and Mirrors)
Neil Gaiman's take on Snow White is special to me because this is how I think. That probably doesn't make any sense, but that story is perfectly logical to me, and none of it is a surprise. When I'm writing and find myself stuck, I remember this story and it helps me move on along. Unlike the first two examples I've named, the traces of this haven't shown up in anything I've done. This is a side of me I still have to develop, and exploit.
What are your stories?