Back when I first started this blog, I posted a handful of times about my writing idols. Since then, my list of writing idols has grown a good bit. Honestly, there are so many fantastic writers out there in the world, and there's so much I admire about and want to learn from them. I know I'll never be able to achieve what many of these writers have--sometimes you just have natural talent in some areas and natural ineptitude in others--but in recognizing them and their skill, I take the first step towards improving my own writing. So today I thought I'd post an updated list of my writing idols and what it is that I admire most about them.
1) J.K. Rowling. Forever and always, I will look up to the author of Harry Potter and the ongoing Cormoran Strike series (as Robert Galbraith). She's fantastic in so many different ways. Most of all, I admire her charitable work, her clean and relatable characterization, and her thorough worldbuilding.
2) Hans Christian Andersen. I have a lot in common with this guy, and after reading the full collection of his fairytales, I came to admire not only the beauty and magic of his stories, but also the way he brought deeper meaning, often religious in nature, into them.
3) Neal Shusterman. This author is another one whose worldbuilding I look up to. It's complex and thoughtful and makes me see the world differently. I also admire his creativity in coming up with strange and unique premises for all his books, which include the Unwind Dystology, Challenger Deep, and the ongoing Arc of a Scythe trilogy.
4) Steven Moffat. Yeah, he's a pretty controversial figure, and I'll agree he has a lot of weaknesses. But I have loved pretty much all of Steven Moffat's individual Doctor Who episodes. He's an expert at making things scary, as well as delivering other kinds of emotional punches, and his stories are incredibly creative.
5) Rick Riordan. The hit author of a giant collection of MG/YA mythological retellings offers a lot to admire, but I appreciate most the incredible amount of creativity he shows in adapting these myths to the modern day. He's also totally hilarious, as exemplified by his portrayal of Apollo, who now has his own ongoing series.
6) Victoria Schwab. She's a fantasy author of both YA and adult fiction (as V.E. Schwab), and she is phenomenal. A rising star in the literary world, Victoria Schwab's books all have this strange twist to their atmosphere, a lingering ache that exists even in the happy moments. She also excels at characterization. My current favorite by her is the Monsters of Verity duology.
7) Amie Kaufman. For whatever reason, she likes to collaborate on most of her books, but the series I've read for which Amie Kaufman has been co-author, I've loved. The Illuminae Files and Starbound series both take a creative (and romantic) path towards the revelation of how corporations, in these future sci-fi worlds, use their power for evil. As such, Kaufman's writing is both relevant and fun.
8) Wilkie Collins. Lately I've been reading through his novels, and the more I read, the more impressed I become. Despite being a white man living in the 1800s, Wilkie Collins was super woke. He was better at portraying women and disabled people than a lot of writers are today, and most of his books have strong social justice messages. I most admire him for those social messages as well as his realistic and complex characterization/voice, which may be best seen in The Moonstone.
9) Rae Carson. One of my favorite series is the Fire and Thorns trilogy. There's so much I love about Rae Carson's writing there: the character development across the books, the inclusion of religion, and the way she depicts the complexities of romance. Fire and Thorns is a very "me" story, and I'd love to be able to write something like it someday.
10) Leigh Bardugo. Leigh Bardugo writes incredibly atmospheric books, with plenty of magic and mystery for her well-written characters to wield. The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows are both great examples of her skill.
11) Suzanne Collins. The author of The Hunger Games trilogy proved herself not only able to write a socially and politically relevant story, but also an exciting one with clear voice and relatable characterization. Her ability with voice in particular is something I wish to emulate. Unfortunately, she hasn't released any books since.
12) Margaret Peterson Haddix. This is the author who introduced me to sci-fi, which eventually became my favorite genre to read. What I admire most about her writing is that she makes the speculative aspects of her books (which are usually MG sci-fi) accessible to her audience, but also exciting and complex. Check out The Missing series, for example.
13) Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ever since I read The Scarlet Letter the summer before 10th grade, I've been a big fan of Hawthorne and how he mixes fantasy and reality in order to reveal pertinent social issues. His writing style just really speaks to me.
14) Maggie Stiefvater. I've often referred to Maggie Stiefvater as "a force of nature," and I still think that to be true. She consistently writes strange, magical stories that captivate tons of readers. As with many of the authors of this list, I admire her creativity and her ability to create a truly atmospheric story. The Raven Cycle is a great example of that.
15) Tahereh Mafi. The Shatter Me series, which has recently been continued, absolutely shattered me (ha ha) when I first read it. What I admire most about Tahereh Mafi's writing is the artistic way she plays with prose and formatting, much like what E.E. Cummings and Lucille Clifton, my two favorite poets, did with poetry. Something about that affects me emotionally to an incredible degree.
16) Nova Ren Suma. She, and the other authors past this point, are newer additions to this list, and I'm still figuring my way around them, but Nova Ren Suma has written a couple of books that I found striking and beautiful. The Walls Around Us in particular made me wish I had her strange creativity.
17) Rin Chupeco. Rin Chupeco is on here for much the same reason as Nova Ren Suma and Maggie Stiefvater: she writes phenomenally strange stories (like the ongoing The Bone Witch series) that possess incredible beauty in their creativity. For all that I'm a dreamer, I'm still a pretty conventional thinker. I wish I could just begin to taste the unearthliness that these authors play with in their stories.
Like I said, there are a ton of great authors out there beyond this list whose books I love and whose skills I admire. This list barely scratches the surface! I'm sure as time passes, even more authors will join the ranks of my writing idols. For now, this is it.
Who are your favorite authors and/or writing idols? What do you love most about them? Let me know, and I'll be back next week with my top YA books of 2010.
Images via josiefaith11 on Redbubble, azquotes.com, [mine], azquotes.com, behappy.me, and azquotes.com.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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