It’s a question I get asked a lot: “Shanna, what inspires you and your writing?”
The truth is, I pull inspiration from multiple places. I sometimes have dreams that I turn into novels, movies, music, books, conversations I hear at a coffee shop, or even random thoughts that pop into my mind. However, I thought today’s blog post I would focus on sharing books that have had the biggest impact on me as a writer.
If I had to pick a single book that has been the biggest inspiration to my writing, I wouldn’t hesitate to answer “Loch” by Paul Zindel. I first discovered this book in grade school at my school’s library. I can still remember exactly where it sat (near the back door on the lowest shelf, three from the right). I found it by accident, actually. My class was taken to the library and told we needed to pick a book to start our spring book reading. I wandered around a bit, not finding any right away, until a blue spine book caught my eye.
I think the reason this book inspires me so is because of how drawn into the story I get (no matter how many times I read it). It was the first book that really sparked my imagination. I spent days after reading thinking about the plot and wondering what I would’ve done in that instance– (Spoiler) how I could have done more to save the people and keep the creatures from getting hurt (end spoiler). I remember wondering if I could ever write a story that impacted and excited someone as much as this book excited me.
I read this book every year, over the summer. I even have a signed, first edition on my shelf (thanks to my AMAZING husband who gives the best gifts ever). Each time I read it, I find myself inspired for new plots and new stories to tell.
The next book that really impacted me was “The Two Princesses of Bamarre” by Gail Carson Levine. I can’t say what about this book speaks to me, but I find it a great book to read when I get writer’s block. It has an unwitting heroine, an amazing love interest, all about women power and sisterhood. There is also magic and love and old-time heroes and prophecies. It just has everything!
This book is always a comfort read for me. But even more, it really gets me thinking about fairy tales and happily ever after’s — and how sometimes the most unexpected ending is the best one. I think this book sparked my interest in “twist endings”. I won’t go into too much detail in case you haven’t read it (no spoilers here), but I think this was one of the first books that really surprised me with the ending and I try to do that with many of my own stories as well.
There are so many books to choose from, but I don’t want this post to be overly long, so I will give just one more story that has inspired me (a more recent one). Last year, I dove into the world of “A Court of Thorn and Roses” by Sarah J Maas. I was drawn into this book as it has a “Beauty and the Beast” vibe to it’s story (and I LOVE a Beauty and the Beast story). However, her series had such twists and turns. How her books moved from one to the next, seamlessly, and how some happy endings weren’t forever, really inspired me.
In fact, the big reveal in book 2/3 (I won’t put it here, no spoilers) and how it reshapes how you see book 1 really made me think about my own writing and how you can bend and break the rules of “happily ever after” to give a story more depth and realism. In fact, this has inspired an entire fantasy series that I am working on!
As I said, there are so many books that have inspired me. So many movies, music, and more (perhaps posts for another day). However, I feel these three stories are the ones that are inspiring me the most (especially right now).
If you haven’t checked out these books yet, I would encourage you to! And if you have any stories that inspire you that you would like to share, be sure to comment below.