reading,  the writing life

Top Influences In Recent Years

The other day I wrote a post about two Irish writers who have deeply influenced me as both a reader and a writer in recent years. Someone asked me if I would share list of writers that have influenced my own work and explain why they were so influential. I decided it wouldn’t hurt. Mind you the list is always changing, growing, shrinking etc.

Here are thirteen (all I had time for) contemporary influences to my work in no particular order:

  • Stephen King. Kings early work was always a favorite of mine, but it wasn’t until his Bill Hodges series that I have come to really appreciate what a fantastic storyteller he truly is. Not only does he build interesting characters, but he knows how to put them in interesting and dire situations.  (Plot, Structure, Characterization)
  • Joe Hill. King’s son, Hill, was a relatively recent find for me with the Locke & Key graphic novels (which are excellent!). Much like his father, he is a master storyteller. Of course with two parents who are novelists, I imagine he learned to hone his story telling skills at an early age.  I imagine a lot of reading went on in that house as well. (Plot, Structure, Characterization)
  • Maeve Binchy. A master at character building and being able to take ordinary people and make their everyday mundane lives interesting. (Characterization)
  • Paul Murray. Another master at turning ordinary characters into interesting people the reader cares about. I also appreciate the level of relevant detail he goes into. (Characterization, Description)
  • John Gardener. Gardener’s Grendel was a fantastic re-imagining of Beowulf. It was his willingness to write a book from the antagonist’s point of view that sucked me in. October Light – a novel within a novel, was also brilliant. He taught me that it was okay to write outside the box. (Viewpoint, Perspective)
  • David Eddings. I was introduced to fantasy through C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Lawrence Watt Evans, and Esther Friesner long before I discovered David Eddings, but Eddings is where I truly fell in love with epic series work.  He is one of the few authors I can say that, twelve books in, I wasn’t bored with the world or characters.  (World Building, Series Plotting, Structure, Characterization)
  • J. K. Rowling. Like most everyone else, I loved the Harry Potter series. What is most wonderful about it, in my humble opinion, is the world-building. J. K. Rowling writes wonderful characters and plots certainly. But her world-building in itself is supremely magical.  (World Building)
  • Victoria Laurie. I know she seems unlikely on a list like this, but Laurie was the first cozy mystery author I read who made me realize that I could write cozy mysteries. Her writing style and mine are rather similar and her Psychic Eye and Ghost Hunter series’ gave me the courage to embrace my own writing style and voice –  and make it work for me in my own stories. (Voice, Style)
  • Charlaine Harris. Another unlikely for this list. I am not a huge vampire fiction fan, but I devoured the Southern Vampire series like it was chocolate cherry cake. I read them quickly, one after another, and didn’t get bored until around book nine, which is pretty good for me. (Series Structure, Pacing)
  • BROM. The Yule Lord reminded me that genre fiction (even contemporary genre fiction) can be both artistic and literary. Genre writers are not hacks. If you don’t believe me – read this book. (Style, Plot)
  • Dana Reed. A lot of you have probably never heard of her. I first read Dana Reed back in 1984. She was the queen of occult horror fiction back then. A bestselling author. Her books are some of the few I’ll re-read even to this day. Margo is one of my favorites (if you can find it). I met her on a writer’s list in the early 2000’s and it’s because of her that I sold my first novel to a publisher.  I will forever be grateful for the kindness and generosity she showed me. She definitely paid it forward. (Plot, Style, Pacing, and she taught me the business of writing)
  • Cherise Sinclair. Aside from her books giving me the courage to publish my BDSM fiction, Cherise Sinclair writes a D/s dynamic I find rather appealing. (Formula Fiction, Relationship Dynamics within the BDSM genre)
  • Selena Kitt. Pacing is everything in erotic fiction. Rich description filled with anticipation and that erotic build – that’s what I learned from Selena’s work.  (Description, Pacing, Sexual Tension)

For the writers reading – who are your most recent influences and why? Share on your own blog and link your post in the comments below!  🙂

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at

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