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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Favorite authors and books and why I return to the same stories by Kaye Spencer

I recently came across an interview I did some years ago in which I was asked to list authors who have influenced me as a writer and to explain why I chose those authors. This was a challenging endeavor. It was a simple task to come up with a list of my favorite authors and to attach a particularly significant work to each author, but it was a different matter to explain in just a few words why I chose the works that I did.

This list is the result of digging to the essence of why I return again and again to these particular stories. I’ve included a "key" of sorts below my signature.

  • William Shakespeare because the play’s the thing
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley for a female perspective of the once and future king
  • Clive Cussler for Dirk Pitt—a man's man
  • Louis L’Amour  for defining what it means to be a man who wants a woman to walk beside him, not behind him

  • Homer for the ultimate journey back home
  • Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, and Thomas Paine for heralding the common sense of independence
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for creating a brilliant mind
  • Harper Lee for a story that showed me the meaning of integrity, empathy, and that doing the right thing is not always the popular thing
  • Charles Dickens for the best of times, the worst of times, and for a second chance at life
  • Margaret Mitchell for showing me that even in my darkest hour, the sun will still rise, because tomorrow is another day
  • Don Coldsmith for showing me the ways of the Elk Dog People
  • Edgar Allen Poe because he understood how fragile reality is in the mind of the writer and the reader

  • Dorothy M. Johnson for the reminder that there is a price to pay for law and order
  • Robert Heinlein for citizens of a future galaxy
  • Oscar Wilde for the importance of being earnest
  • Mario Puzo for an offer I can’t refuse
  • J.R.R. Tolkien for Samwise Gamgee's devotion and loyalty
  • Thomas Keneally because one person can indeed make a difference
  • Agatha Christie for creating an eccentric Belgian of Herculean proportions
  • Alexandre Dumas for the vengeance of Edmund Dantes
  • Victor Hugo because I railed against injustice and wept at the sacrifice of redemption
  • Gaston Leroux for showing me the tragic face of loneliness

  • Boris Pasternak for a love that could have been, but could never be
  • Bram Stoker for opening the door to a genre that has no boundaries or constraints of time
  • Thomas Harris for making me root for Hannibal Lecter
  • Wladyslaw Szpilman because sometimes music is all we have
  • Jack Schaeffer for a story of unspoken love and the true meaning of friendship 
  • John Steinbeck for the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love
  • But most of all, William Goldman, for the perfect story of fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles

Until next time,


Writing the West one romance upon a time

Mists of Avalon
Dirt Pitt books
Louis L'Amour westerns
Common Sense
Sherlock Holmes
To Kill a Mockingbird
Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol
Gone with the Wind
Spanish Bit Series
The Raven (and others)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Citizen of the Galaxy
Importance of Being Earnest
The Godfather
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Schindler's List
Hercule Poirot mysteries
Count of Monte Cristo
Les Misérables
Phantom of the Opera
Dr. Zhivago
Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal
The Pianist
Of Mice and Men
The Princess Bride


  1. You certainly mentioned some of my favorites, too. Isn't it odd how much books influence our lives, ideals, and principles? Louisa May Alcott was a major influence in my life, especially in my younger years. I remember how much I wanted to be published in Marion Zimmer Bradley's magazine. Did you know she edited the submissions herself. Well, I was working on an MS she had edited to resubmit when she died and her magazine closed. Bummer.
    Anyway, I liked you blog and your list, Kaye.

    1. Sarah,
      I knew Marion Zimmer Bradley had a magazine, but I didn't know she edited submissions. That's pretty amazing. I've never read a Louisa May Alcott book. The story lines just seem so sad.

      Thanks for commenting and for the compliment.

  2. Perfect. Loved your list and have many of the same authors on mine. I did have John Gunther for helping me understand the pain of death and Herman Hesse for his understanding of the fluidity of life.

    1. Doris,

      It's interesting to me which stories 'touch' people. It's the same with movies. What captures one reader is lost on another. The life experiences we bring to a book certainly influence what we take away.

      I appreciate that you shared the names of authors who have touched you.

    2. I have to say, anyone who gets L'Amour is okay in my book. Doris

  3. Mists of Avalon is one of my favorite books. Did you ever see the tv film adaptation? It was pretty good. A great list! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Kristy,

      Yes, I've watched the Mists of Avalon film. In fact, I have a dvd of it that I watch periodically. Every couple of winters, I dust off my worn copy and read it, and I take away something new with each reading.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. What a great list. Love the Bard (who doesn't) and the Mists of Avalon is one of the all-time great new looks of an old classic. I would have to say, though, from J.R.R. Tolkien I learned that real men aren't afraid of strong women, and Faramir is perfection. :-)

  5. Keena,

    I like the "real men aren't afraid of strong women". That's a theme that runs through Louis L'Amour's westerns. I agree about Faramir. I liked Boromir, too. It didn't hurt my feelings that the movie had David Wenham and Sean Bean. *dreamy*

  6. WOW. What a great collection of books and authors--and meanings to take from their works. So many of these are on my list, too, Kaye. Probably the only one I might add would be One Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus--because I learned from him that yes, a man truly CAN see things from a woman's POV and write about feelings so deeply it can actually stir something that many female writers just "don't get" somehow. That shocked me.

    1. Cheryl,

      I will have to investigate this book. Thanks for sharing that. :-)