In my other author form I’ve recently been getting a lot of contact from young adults interested in becoming published (self or repped) authors in their own right. As always, I’m flattered when someone feels comfortable enough to come to me and ask for advice (which I am always happy to give!). As social media continues to blur the lines of contact between an author’s personal and public self, I welcome anyone enthusiastic enough to sent me a tentative message, note, or tweet.
So, thinking back to my own childhood, I thought it would be a good time to mention the top three authors from my own youth who I would’ve loved to contact. Would they have told me anything different? Would they have impacted my path in any way? Am I helping the next big author on their way? I’d like to think so – but if not, I’m still glad to have the contact.
1. Tamora Pierce
I don’t think any other author had as much an impact on me growing up as “Tammy.” I started reading Alanna when I was about the same age as the protagonist in her debut novel. I lived and survived the ordeals she went through. I read the books at least once a year and am long overdue for another read of my beloved quartet. While I did enjoy ensuing series by Tamora Pierce, nothing was a fantastic to me as Alanna of Trebond, Lady Knight of Tortall. For my YA novels, I wouldn’t put any of my characters on Alanna’s level, but I’d like to think there’s a spark of the warrior knight in my Fates project. Ayah borrows from Alanna’s ambition, integrity and loyalty.
As the only living author I’m going to list, I should add ‘meeting Tamora Pierce’ to my bucketlist and go and worship at her feet.
2. Laura Ingalls Wilder
The entire Little House on the Prairie series was a big favorite for my sister and myself. Although the prose might be simple, the storytelling is rich. While I was at first intimidated by the length of some of the books, I was rewarded by the stories. What still strikes me as amazing is the autobiographical nature of the novels. In my own house, tucked safely in the suburbs, I tried to imagine how my family would deal with the trials and tribulations of blizzards, moving, and farming. I’m not really sure how much of my writing now reflects reading these books, but the determination and battle of human vs. environment is certainly an interesting one.
3. Maud Hart Lovelace
I’m not really sure how I found the Betsy-Tacy series, but I certainly am glad I did. As with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s transition from childhood to young adult (and young wife), I enjoyed Betsy Ray’s (a writer after my own heart, just about 80 years earlier) fictional life growing up in Deep Valley, MN. Without question, these books had the greatest impact on writing YA novels. I went so far as to emulate Ms. Lovelace’s structure (capping books of mine to one season or year in the protagonists’ life). And my affection didn’t stop there. I wrote and directed a film during my senior year of college and named the main character and her love interest – you guessed it – Betsy and Joe.
Having lived in Los Angeles for many years, I was never able to visit the author’s home in Del Mar, and also need to add it to my ‘author homage’ road trip (along with Betsy and Tacy’s actual houses) which needs to happen at some point.
I may revisit Betsy and Co. later for a certain book idea I have…