Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter. Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel and is coming July 2011 from Night Shade Books.
A big thanks to Courtney for asking me to post here at the Night Bazaar and congratulations to Brad on his release of The Winds of Khalakovo! Brad has asked that we talk about our writing influences, a great subject for any writer. He is also giving away two copies of The Winds of Khalakovo during this week! All you have to do is comment on one of the posts with the name of a book that influenced you (it doesn’t have to be science fiction or fantasy).
As for me, I’ve been fortunate to recently meet several excellent authors who have influenced my writing: Lisa Mannetti taught me story structure both with an excellent blog post and by example in the way she tells her stories; Robert Dunbar’s guidance has taught me to be true to my characters; Alex Bledsoe showed me how to mix genres successfully to give the reader a grand good time; and my good friend Kathryn Magendie showed me how to let my words fly free across the page.
Although Miserere was almost finished when I met all of these authors, their advice means a great deal to me. These authors graciously agreed to do interviews for me before I had an agent and while I was unpublished. They each taught me something valuable about the writing process through their interviews and our correspondences.
However, if I had to choose an author whose influence has inspired me the most over the years, it would have to be Stephen King. I have read his latest work Full Dark, No Stars, and Mr. King succinctly states why I’ve always admired his work.
In his words: “. . . when it comes to fiction, the writer’s only responsibility is to look for the truth inside his own heart.”
This philosophy has been evident in all of King’s works. I think it’s his emphasis on ordinary people, his keen eye into human nature, and his love of weaving the truth into his storytelling that gives his tales such power. I haven’t just read his novels; I’ve studied them, trying to discover that magic combination of words and soul that he intertwines into each tale.
Yet he tells us there is no magic trick after all. It’s all right there before our eyes.
Look for the truth in my heart.
I think it’s why I’ve always loved Patricia McKillip’s novels. If I had to pick the moment when I passed from the childish realm of fairy tales into the adult world of fantasy, it was when I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. McKillip showed me what it meant to grow up and how the decisions we make affect not just ourselves but others too. My latest favorite is In the Forests of Serre, which is about the power of grief and what it means to steal (and heal) a heart.
Other writers who have influenced me are: George Orwell, Jack London, Edgar Allan Poe, Peter S. Beagle, C.S. Lewis, Toni Morrison, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Alice Walker. They bare the truth to us and place it beneath a veneer of fiction, but they do not blunt the honesty of their stories with pretensions. The truths these authors have given were not my own, not at first, but they made me examine the truth in my own heart. Those are the kinds of authors that influence my writing.
That is what I tried to do with Miserere—I looked for a truth in my heart and gave it to Lucian, then I sent him on a journey by spilling words across the page. Whether the reader will discover my truth or find one of their own, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you enjoy the tale, and maybe at the end, you will divine a truth of your own.
So now you tell us: what writers or novels have most influenced you? You might win a copy of The Winds of Khalakovo, then who knows? The next time this topic rolls around, you can say the novel that most influenced you was The Winds of Khalakovo . . .