I Gotta Be Me….
So in this month’s Merry-Go-Round blog post we were asked to talk about who influenced us as a writer. Next to that, in parenthesis, it said: (i.e. who would you like to be compared to?) When I was a teenager back in the late 80’s the answer would have been, hands down, David Eddings. I idolized David Eddings. But that’s not who I ended up being compared to. Nope.
I really try not to read reviews of my books. I do, but sometimes you just have to, no matter how brutal. I remember clamping my jaw, narrowing my eyes, and reading what was certain to be a scathing commentary befitting three stars.
“O’Connell’s scenes remind me of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty books. Sure, there are some worthwhile scenes, but they’re totally contrived, just like Rice!”
Wait, back up. Was I just compared to Anne Rice? It was so unexpected that I literally had to read the review again. Trust me, perspective is everything here because I love Anne Rice, including her erotic books written as A. N. Roquelaure. For someone who hates Anne Rice, clearly this would be a slam.
Admittedly that three star review flattered me. But again, I would have never thought to compare myself to Anne Rice. Not in a million years. Our writing styles are totally different and my bestselling author designation isn’t even in the same league as hers. I’m small potatoes! Not to mention I haven’t read an Anne Rice novel in at least nineteen years.
I was also flattered and surprised when I heard readers comparing my OTS novels (written as Audrey Brice) to Jim Butcher, Lilith Saintcrow, and Juliet Blackwell (who I love, BTW) even though my writing style is nothing like those authors. I can only imagine these readers must be comparing theme to theme as opposed to writing style. Each writer has their own unique voice. My voice isn’t nearly as terse as Jim Butcher, or as meandering as Lilith Saintcrow, or even as precise as Juliet Blackwell. No, I’d actually say I’m more like a Stephen King without the word vomit. I don’t mince semantics or go on for pages showing the reader what my characters are wearing or what the weather is like. Nope – I’m more of an in-your-face kind of writer.
My writing style is about giving the reader what they absolutely need and leaving the rest to the imagination. This drives some readers crazy, especially those who love to be spoon fed tedious detail after tedious detail. I hate that. As a reader I skim through the tedious description in most fiction just to get to the point. IMHO long descriptive narratives are what you call padding or word-count boosting. I’m one of those writers that, if it doesn’t move a story forward or help to create tension or mood, it doesn’t belong there. I make judgement calls on what gets left in and what stays out based on that. Am I always right in the choices I make? Probably not. But this is why you’ll find a lot of my novels on the shorter side. I refuse to pad.
Ultimately – I am me and have a unique writing style and writing voice. So while I’m flattered to be compared to other writers out there, I think I stand with a lot of writers who would eventually like to be known without needing the comparison. It also means I don’t try to make my writing emulate anyone else’s. Like I said, there was a time in my teens that I tried to write like David Eddings. But after a few years of trying and falling short I had to accept the fact that I wasn’t David Eddings and never would be. No. I was Stephanie Connolly and no amount of emulation would change that.
As for who influenced me to become a writer or to write in general – that’s a really long list: Shakespeare, Jean Slaughter-Doty, Walter Farley, Stephen King, David Eddings, Dean Koontz, Piers Anthony, Dana Reed, H. G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Judy Bloom, Victoria Laurie, Madelyn Alt, Mary Shelley, Lawrence Watt-Evans etc…. I could go on for pages. The ones listed here have been favorite authors at one point or another in my life. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was a small child and every book I’ve ever read has, in some way, influenced my writing.
About The FM Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour
Today’s post was inspired by the topic My Influences this month’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read their thoughts on their writing influences, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. I blog with this tour the 25th of every month. Up next on the tour: Becky Pratt!