FanLit Asks… About Style (Part 2)

Here’s another installment of FanLit Asks. Instead of asking one author several questions, we’ve asked several authors just one question. Please leave a comment or suggest a question for us to ask in the future. fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWe’ll choose one commenter to win a copy of Jack Vance’s The Eyes of the Overworld (one of my favorites!) on audio CDs (or, if you’ve got bad taste, something else from our stacks).

Question: Which speculative fiction writer has had the greatest influence on your own writing style and what, specifically, do you find most inspirational about that writer’s style?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAlex Bell: Definitely Terry Pratchett. His Discworld novels got me through the horror that was secondary school. I loved them for their escapism, warmth and humour and the way they put a smile on my face and made me feel better able to cope with real life!

Erin Bow: Ursula LeGuin. I love many things about her, but as a writer I’m most inspired by the real-ness of her invented worlds. Narnia might well fit in a wardrobe, but Earthsea could fill an ocean and not neglect the whales.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsChris Evans: Tolkien‘s classic fantasy construct showed me the power of myth and complex layering in world building while George MacDonald Fraser gave me insight into the bond between soldiers in time of war. My style is very much a reflection of these two authors’ approaches to grand geo-political concepts on the one hand, and intimate portraits of human (or elf and dwarf) character under extreme duress on the other.

Kevin Hearne: Neal Stephenson taught me that you can write an incredibly brainy book full of ideas and still appeal to a wide audience with deftly written action sequences and a nuclear bomb riding in a sidecar. His spec-fic kung fu still impresses me to this day — and Snow Crash, particularly, is looking eerily prophetic these days.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMatthew Hughes: It’s Jack Vance by a long shot.  I am drawn to his minimalist description, his ironically detached dialogue, and the way he implies humor without reaching for the pig’s bladder.  He is the only author that I knowingly reread.

Mindy Klasky: My writing style has been most influenced by one of my early fantasy idols — Katherine Kurtz, particularly her first six Deryni books.  I devoured those volumes in middle school, reading them so often that I had large portions memorized. Kurtz’s writing often alternates witty, expository dialog with richly-detailed descriptions (particularly of ritual and architecture). Unconsciously, I adapted a similar style for my own books. Except, um, my writing doesn’t often focus on architecture; I tend to describe food :-)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsKen Scholes: Hand’s down, it was Ray Bradbury. His stories started wowing me in the second grade and at 13, I discovered his essay “How to Keep and Feed a Muse” in the textbook On Writing by Writers. I knew after reading it that I had to be a writer. I wrote him soon after and he was kind enough to write back and recommend some books on writing for me, advising me to write 1,000 words a day. I started writing my own stories then and thirty years later, I dedicated my third novel, Antiphon, to him.

Please leave a comment or suggest a question for us to ask in the future.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. Question: “What word(s) are you in love with? Is there a word that you are always happy to write? A word that, for whatever reasons, you truly seem to have a love affair with?”


  2. SandyG265 /

    It’s interesting to see that each of the authors were influenced by someone different.

  3. Melanie Goldmund /

    I always enjoy reading about what different authors have to say. Could you ask Brandon Sanderson something sometime? Sorry — can’t think of anything to suggest.

    But I do have a technical question as to the practice of choosing one commentator to win something from the stacks. This is just for clarification for me, but how long does it take before you actually choose a winner for the various threads? Because I’ve commented on a few threads now, for instance, on the Thoughtful Thursday from the 19th of May, Happy Endings, but unless I’ve missed something, a winner hasn’t been chosen yet. Now I didn’t check the box that said “notify me of followup comments via e-mail” because I didn’t want all that stuff in my inbox, but I’ve been checking the thread every two days or so, and haven’t seen anything about a winner. Did I miss something? Just wondering, and thanks in advance for clearing this up! :-)

  4. Melanie,
    That was Ruth’s last post, so things were in a bit of limbo with Thoughtful Thurs. I will check with her and see if she contacted someone by email and we’ll add a comment saying so. (We have only recently made the comments the official way of contacting winners).

    If you ever suspect us of forgetting one, please comment in that post and the post author will get an email and take care of it. We’ve got tons of books to give away!


  5. Oh, and about how long: usually around 2 weeks, but sometimes only one week and sometimes we realize we are later than 2 weeks. We are not quite as organized as we’d like to be.

  6. Question: How do you go about world building in your novel (cultures, magic system, etc)? Where did the inspiration come from in creating this unique world?

    Its interesting to see how these authors were inspired by others authors and how that reflect on their writing.

  7. Melanie Goldmund /

    Thanks for clearing that up for me, Kat! :-)

  8. Sue (okibi_insanity), if you live in the USA, please let me know if you’d like the Jack Vance book mentioned above, or if you’d rather choose a book from our stacks and send me (Kat) your address. Thanks for the comments, everyone — we’re glad you like this feature!

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