My Inspiration

I'm about 1/3 through revising my novel, so naturally I've been thinking a lot about writing and why I do it. Like most (if not all) writers, I've always been an avid reader. I have to thank my mom and grandmother for that. My mom taught me to read when I was four years old, and one of the first gifts I can remember from my grandmother was a collection of classic books abridged for children. I grew up adventuring outside with my brother, but we also played MS DOS computer games and watched TV with our dad. We moved frequently, so I met and befriended people from Texas to Australia. Of course my time in the military and in college greatly changed the course of my life. All of this not only influenced who I am as a person, but also my writing.

Today I'm thinking most about the books that inspired me to start writing, from childhood to the day I first took pen to paper. Choosing an order for them was really difficult, but here are the top ten books/series that led to my journey into the world of writing (they may or may not also be my favorite books of all time). When you finish reading, be sure to comment with what inspires you!

10.) The Twilight Series 

Don't laugh, I mean it! Okay, so this isn't one of my favorite novels, but it definitely inspired me to write. If nothing else, it made me think, "I can do better than this!" I did read and enjoy the entire series when I first read them, but more than anything, I learned from it. As a young adult novel, it is brilliantly written with its target audience in mind. It's full of tropes and poor prose, but teenage girls love it for a reason.

9.) The Tell-Tale Heart

When I read the works of Edgar Allan Poe in high school, they stuck with me. I still have nightmares about the Tell-Tale Heart. I need to revisit his short stories. He's a master of beautiful words, suspense, and horror.

8.) Gone with the Wind

I read Gone with the Wind for the first time in 8th grade. It kicked off my historical fiction/romance addiction. It also introduced me to a strong female protagonist. I love Scarlett, even if she is a *bit* manipulative. I also love the extensive world-building and the war-time setting. 

7.) The Vampire Chronicles

I love Anne Rice. Her characters come to life on the page, and her stories draw the reader in. Her passion for writing is inspiring. I also greatly admire how she interacts with her fans on Facebook and Twitter.

6.) Brave New World

This novel is famous, but I didn't know much about it before I finally read it a couple years ago. People say it's set in a dystopic world, but I don't really think it fits that definition. It's an imperfect utopia, but it's citizens are happy enough that the idea of revolting is beyond them. That their civilization is unfair or evil never crosses their minds. I love that, as well as the stunning sci-fi imagery.

5.)  1984

From here on out it was nearly impossible to choose the order. I can't talk about inspiration without mentioning 1984. I was blown away by the premise of this book. I read it twice back to back, just because I didn't quite believe it the first time. This is a sobering look at a dystopic society that wants to change, but their government is so corrupt and powerful that revolution is no longer possible.

4.) The Lord of the Rings series and the Hobbit

I love epic fantasy of all kinds, but of course the king of that genre is LOTR. Middle Earth is my favorite novel setting of all time. I know people joke about how the whole thing is just people walking, but it's so much more. It may help that I love travelling and adventures, so this is pretty much the perfect book in my eyes.

3.) The Harry Potter series

My favorite thing about these books is the sheer amount of detail and planning that went into it. I read that it took JK Rowling 10 years to write the first book, and I wouldn't be surprised. The series starts off a bit simple, but it was originally intended for children so that makes sense. I love watching her skill as a writer over the years. I laughed, I cried, and I spent sleepless nights trying to finish it before school the next day. Most of us grew up with her books, almost as if her characters were our friends. I know I'm not alone in wishing that Hogwarts was real and accepting students from America.

2.) The Hunger Games series

This was the last book series I read before I started writing, and it is by far my favorite Young Adult novel. It's not perfect, but it has a strong female lead, a cool setting, and an intense story. I hate the whole love triangle thing, but I learned a lot from everything, even the bad parts. I think that's important for writers and readers alike. No book is perfect, but you should be able to enjoy it and learn from it as well.

1.) The Handmaid's Tale

As you can see from this list, I enjoy sci-fi, dystopia, strong characters, romance, and intriguing plots. This book has all of that and more. The only thing it lacks that I love is fantasy, but that's okay. I've probably read this book more than any other. I hope I can write something as beautiful and meaningful someday. Margaret Atwood is my hero. I'm going to go re-read this work of art right now.

For more inspiration check out my favorite video games. All forms of creative media have had an effect on my brain, and I've probably spent as much time gaming as I have reading. I'll be posting a recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie next week. See you next time!

-Libbi Duncan, The Cornucopia Woman

Honorable Mention goes to:
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Swiss Family Robinson
  • Nancy Drew
  • The Thorn Birds
  • Frankenstein
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Works of:
  • Jane Austen
  • Mark Twain
  • Charles Dickens
  • Shakespeare


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