I have been inspired by many authors throughout my creative writing journey, and as it helps to learn from the best, I have compiled a list of the top five authors who can inspire new creative writers.
No. 1. James Patterson
James Patterson is a highly successful American Crime Writer who is famous for his fast paced, heart stopping and gripping thrillers. As a long time fan of James Patterson, I have never been disappointed. I have just finished Alex Cross, Run, and I was intrigued by the dual plot-lines, with Alex Cross hunting down two psychopathic killers, while also being hunted by a revengeful nemesis who will stop at nothing in destroying Cross’s reputation and family.
The Alex Cross series is a favourite as Patterson’s hero is a classic example of a four dimensional character. We see Cross in dual social spaces, his work and home life, we have access to his intimate thoughts, and more importantly we have access to the perspective of the nemesis or villain on Cross. Alex has victories and temporary defeats and exhibits many character flaws, which are highlighted in this novel. These characters flaws help us to identity with his struggles as we cheer him on as he fights against evil.
Patterson also knows how to draw his readers into the short bursts of action contained in his novels. He also provides us with a detailed outline of the psychology of his villains.
His dialogue is straight to the point, and every word is strategically placed and is used to good effect. Also his book chapters are short and there is plenty of white space, which provides for a pleasant reading experience.
No 2. Patricia Cornwell.
Patricia Cornwell is one of my favourite forensic crime thriller authors. Her heroine, Dr Kay Scarpetta, is a dedicated medical examiner who not tracks down serial killers but she has also been on the receiving end of crime. Scarpetta has had her share of complicated romantic and family relationships and she expresses empathy for the victims of crime.
Cornwall’s writing style is engaging, and she keeps the reader guessing up until the finale. She also rates quite high on my list for the creation of a strong and sassy female character, who is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and she can hold her own in a male dominated world.
No. 3. Sophie Kinsella
Among many of her books, Confessions of a Shopaholic (2001) is a bestseller that has secured a global readership and ongoing commercial success. Whether you love or hate chick-lit, Kinsella’s narratives are easy to read and her characters are humorous.
Shopaholic has gained in popularity with its predominately youthful demographic of readers, due to its references to recognisable fashion brands, magazines, and department stores. It also features ‘chick-lit style’ characters, like the famous Bridget Jones, who tend to be urban women, employed in the media industry, are relatively successful, and continually struggle with romantic foibles or consumerist angst, with sobering, but hilarious results.
Kinsella’s book has undergone scathing reviews as many media commentators have tried to understand the book’s success, and many feminist writers have lashed out at the depiction of women in her books, but regardless of the socio-political uproar, the book’s key selling element is its lovable leading lady, Becky Bloomwood, who has catapulted Kinsella to literary notoriety.
Bloomwood is the bumbling and ditzy heroine who gives out financial advice in her day job, whilst being chronically in debt due to her out of control shopping addiction. While Bloomwood and her crazy antics provide for a good laugh, there is clear message about the effects of mass consumerism and crippling financial debt without being too preachy.
From a storytelling perspective, Kinsella’s characters are hilarious, the plot is faced paced, similar to that of a crime thriller, and her writing style keeps the reader riveted to the narrative up to the last page.
No. 4. Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is another highly successful book that continues to dominate the literary field of mass market adolescent books.
I had never heard of The Hunger Games before the films premiered, and in hearing the arguments for and against their controversial content, I saw some of the films and then decided to read the first novel in the series.
Collin’s storytelling adequately draws the reader into a Dystopian world that lives in fear of an annual sadistic reality television show that involves a gladiatorial style of combat with a twist – the opponents are ordinary teenagers as opposed to skilled soldiers.
The Hunger Games is also an interesting example of an intriguing generic mix. It draws upon a mix of science fiction, adventure, drama, and action. Its key selling point is the unique combination of a popular 21st century television phenomenon – ‘Reality TV’ – and the Romanesque style of entertainment.
I chose The Hunger Games for this list of top five authors, not because of his mass appeal, but due to the main character, Katniss Everdeen, the young heroine whose bravery and sacrifice is the driving force behind the plot as she volunteers to take her younger sister’s (Prim) place in the games.
Collins has created a dynamic heroine who is an active female character who not only becomes a symbol for bravery for her hometown of Seam in District 12, but she has also been tagged as a positive symbol of courage for modern day teenage girls.
Although the book has raised controversial debates over its high levels of violence that is perpetrated by children, it is Katniss who heroically displays empathy and inner strength in the face of such violence.
The controversial debates have not affected the book’s popularity as it has reached almost mythic proportions in its readership popularity.
No. 5. Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne Du Maurier is an English author, who bases the majority of her narratives in Cornwell, Southern England.
Her novels were inspired by the mysterious, yet breathtaking landscape of the Cornish countryside, the idyllic, yet secretive villages, and especially the shifting moods of the beautiful, but sometimes treacherous, Bodmin moor.
Daphne is an all-round storyteller who has not limited herself to one genre. She displays a talent for being able to create novels that cross many genres/sub-genres such as: a short story collection that centres on the macabre, a speculative fiction novel, The House on the Strand, that combines the supernatural and science fiction, and also historical romances.
Many of Du Maurier’s historical romances contain an element of mystery, and the narratives foreground strong active female heroines. Novels like Jamaica Inn and Rebecca centre on heroines who endure hardship either due to abusive or conflicted men, and these women are often left to fend for themselves in isolated and gloomy houses that carry dark secrets. Although it seems at times that these women are doomed to fight a losing battle, they are victorious, and their abusers or antagonists are brought to justice.
Although there are many great storytellers to choose from these days, I have chosen just a few of my favourite top five authors who have inspired me in my creative writing journey. I hope that they inspire you as well.