I had someone recently mention to me that I should try writing about my influences. I also read recently that blog entries should be kept short. Well, I'm usually convinced that no one wants to know what makes me tick (I'm kind of scared to know myself!) and I am in the habit of being long-winded, so this is going to be a new challenge for me. Here it goes! (no duct tape handy)
I always read as a child, but the first novel that I remember reading and truly appreciating was in seventh grade. We were assigned to read the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I'm sure that most of you are very familiar with this book, and if you aren't then you should certainly go and get a copy. I still have the same copy that I read originally in seventh grade (yes, the printing press had been invented by then). I think that the thing that stuck with me about this book is the fact that it was so real. S.E. Hinton said that she was annoyed with all of the books written for young people showing some idyllic life that most of the people that she knew had no chance of ever achieving. She wanted there to be a book about how things really were. I would say that she achieved her goal. Students in my eighth grade class have to read that book each year, and I have never known of a student to complete it and say that they hated it. All these years later, it still resonates with the young and with those that remember being young.
So what did I take from The Outsiders? I took reality. Whenever I write, I don't look at what the invincible movie protagonist might do. I try to imagine how true, everyday, regular people might react and, more importantly, how they might feel. It surprises me how often that is missing from our stories.