Robert Jordan for the breadth of his series. I like the way he has ideas and legends from all kinds of different cultures then blends them together.
wheel of time is from hinduim the dragon is a christ like character taveren comes out of alot of religions seanchen is a culture similiar to east asian cultures in the past twists on the king arthur legend. Artur Hawking Paendrag and the sword in the stone, the stone is a fortress and the sword is a magic weapon.
stuff like that. He didn't stick to one set of legends or cultures in his world. I also like the depth and the layers of his writing.
George R. R. Martin, Steven Pressfield. If you lose hope that you will master all the details needed to tell a tale, look up to these guys. There are other authors but right now I can't think of any.
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J.R.R. Tolkien: I realize a lot of people don't like the way he writes and think his characters lack depth. I think his writing is beautiful, he created the single most rich and detailed fantasy world, and indeed the most beloved story in history, and to me his characters are like old friends. In many of the most stressful times in my life, in moments where I've felt lost, I go and read the Lothlorien portions of The Fellowship of the Ring. Galadriel always gets me back on track.
Ursula K. LeGuin: A Wizard of Earthsea is one of my all time favorite books. The School on Roke and its Nine Masters, along with LeGuins use of language have had a huge effect on me, as a writer and as a person (she's one of the writers who comes up most frequently when I put my stuff in the "I Write Like" thingy.)
H.P. Lovecraft: Huge influence on me as a writer especially. He's another one I know a lot of people today don't care for his style, but its the vision that counts. Interestingly in "I Write Like" little of my fiction comes up as him...but most of my blog posts and the like do. His influence on speculative fiction can't be overstated. Nobody does weird like him.
Ray Bradbury: I read "The October Country" every October. As I've gotten older there are some things about him I've come to...not like as much both in terms of his writing and his ideas but his style is amazing and "The Jar" will always be one of my favorite short stories. Big influence on my style (I once had a story rejected for being too much like Ray Bradbury, supposedly.)
Stephen King: Inventor of the horror novel and one of the bestselling writers ever. Sort of like the illegitimate love child of Lovecraft, Bradbury and Tolkien.
Simon Logan: One most folks probably haven't heard of. When I found his Industrial fiction, it was like someone turned on the light in a part of my mind that had always been there...the feelings, the atmosphere, but he gave it definite form. Some of my stories are directly inspired by his work...in a way. Sort of like he showed me what was possible and I began doing my own thing with it. He also gave me a little help in getting started submitting.
There are many other influences, but when someone asks a question like this these are the ones that spring to my mind. It may be off topic, but I'm also very strongly inspired by Anime and Japanese storytelling in general.
If I am being completely honest, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but Stephenie Meyer. It's not because I thought her writing was wonderful or even the books (though I did enjoy them) it was that she was someone I could relate to.
My husband had been bugging me to write for years but I was too scared and a little in awe of authors. But reading Stephenie's website and learning that she was a stay at home mom who hadn't written before with little kids and lived in Arizona like me, I thought, if she can do this then so can I.
I'm not going to list all the other authors that inspired me because they've already been listed.
satate, I read all of the Twilight series and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm not much of a romance fan but I must confess I found Meyer's style interesting. I could see where she tried to do something, where she failed to do something else. I learned plenty.
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So I'm a late arrival in the OS Card camp... He shot way up to the top three of my picks with Enders Game and Enders Shadow.
Octavia Butler just blew me away with Wild Seed, Genevive. Blew Me Away!
I've just completed the fifth Jim Butcher, 'Dresden Files' story. Great storytelling, lots of fun.
I will forever have a soft spot for Rudyard Kipling, Herman Melville, Jules Verne...
Dare I throw RA Salvatore's name into the mix? Kinda DnD'esque but what a cool ride. He is one of my favorites on the lighter side of things.
My newest self appointed assignment for reading is; C.J. Cherryh. Anyone familiar with her? Any recommendations for her works?
George R. R. Martin is an excellent scene crafter Chris Barzak is great with mood and intricate layering Orson Scott Card is an excellent storyteller Stephen King is an interesting blend of genre and non-genre Karen Joy Fowler manages such delicate recipes Kelly Link is a blast of new genre Octavia Butler was a treasure; I'll never forget reading "Bloodchild" in OMNI back in the day. It was that good.
There are many others, but these come to mind right now.
My wife, Susan Urbanek Linville, is my favorite of all :-) (Biased? Me?) I admire the way she writes so simply, yet manages an emotional punch nearly every time I read her work. It's all about story with her. I guess we admire what we have difficulty doing ourselves.
C. J. Cherryh was my favorite author at one time and I adored her Downbelow Station series. How she manages to write scenes with tons of characters and yet not confuse me, is impressive. I'm less thrilled with her later work - it may just be that my tastes have moved on, though. She remains a very good writer.
Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day when I read it. Amazing, glib, wonderfully imagined. He's in love with his voice, however, which put me off subsequent books. I'm told his Baroque Cycle is well worth reading and I'm working through Anathem now. It's a wonderfully complex world, but as much as I admire Stephenson's grant imagination, I find myself wishing he would cut his page count down a bit before publishing them.