Friday, September 30, 2011

Books Shape Us

A while back I wrote an article about how few books change the world so we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously. One of my readers, Regectedriter, wrote something beautiful that changed my mind:

Even though it's easy to read a novel, the story does stick to the heart- for some a bit more than others. But the story will always be there, won't it? Even after the pages have stopped turning and teh book has been filed away to gather dust on a too-full shelf, it'll stay hidden at the back, or front, of the mind. Of all the novels you've read, I'm sure you'll keep the parts that impacted you in your memory and use them to bolster your spirit, whether you consciously realize it or not.

It got me wondering:  I’ve read a ton of bad books in my life. If I could go back in time and prevent myself from reading every book I didn’t like, how would that change me?

If I had that chance, I wouldn’t do it. Sometimes it’s the bad books that motivate me to write. “I could do better,” I’ll say, or “I disagree with that,” or even, “I can’t let this horrible book influence people without counterbalancing it with what I think is right.” Bad books help me understand what I care about.

Now I’m going to use the same concept to make a different point:

I came up with an idea for another book yesterday. Right on schedule. I come up with a book idea once a year like clockwork, which is wonderful… and it would be even more wonderful if I could get Sacred Fire finished so I wouldn’t have to sit on six ideas at once.

While telling my husband about my new book, he asked how I came up with the idea. “The Terminator,” I said without thinking, which surprised both me and my husband since my book is a historical fiction – without robots. (It’s such a freakin’ awesome movie, though. I want to name my first son Connor, but Andrew refuses to name our children after action movie characters.) 

I started to list other books/movies that influenced me: The Tiger’s Wife, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Outlander.

Hunger was a mix between The Phantom of the Opera and Beloved, and I realize now I was influenced by every sappy romance and every stupid vampire/werewolf/ghost story I ever disliked. It all blended together into something wonderful.

As for Fierce, my Nano book… I don’t know where that thing came from. I’m going to look at my Goodreads list and see if I can’t figure it out.

What books did you have to read in order to come up with the idea for your novel?


  1. I just found your blog and love it. I read all the books I could find on the "Mary Celeste," a cargo ship whose crew disappeared in the 1870s. My novel is called "Return of the Mary Celeste." So far I haven't been able to find an agent to take me on. But hope springs eternal. I look forward to enjoying your posts.

  2. One book idea a year? In a way that would be nice, but I enjoy all of my various ideas (even if I don't get to work on them for a while) too much to give them up because of time restraints. XD

  3. I agree- I'm as influenced by the books I love as the ones I wish hadn't been written. I won't go into specifics, but my MCs are based on wanting to see more strong fierce girls in YA fiction.


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