Q: Who is your greatest literary influence?
I don’t think I can quote just one author as an influence, anymore than I can point to any one movie or TV series as key inspirations for my writing. As a middle schooler, my favorite authors were mostly those that wrote YA horror and paranormal urban fantasy. RL Stine, Christopher Pike, LJ Smith, and Richie Tankersley Cusick were my favorites. I was a proud member of RL Stine’s Fear Street book club, which sent stickers and books via snail mail every month. But it wasn’t just the scary books that hooked my interest—I was drawn to epic fantasy, too. Brian Jacques’s Redwall novels held a prominent place on my bookshelf and in my heart, inspiring me to create fantasy maps of worlds of my own (that I did a lot of worldbuilding for but never actually wrote stories about!).
Later, I’d fall in love with the world of Dune created by sci-fi great Frank Herbert. It was the David Lynch movie version that drew me into the world, but Herbert’s lush writing and masterfully crafted eco-critical sci epic that added fuel to my creative fire. Science fiction is one of my true loves in writing—I’ve published three stories set in the genre and have a fourth due to appear in an anthology later this year.
But I love a strong romantic thread in books, too, like many of the YA books I read in my youth. Yet I’m always drawn right back to the terror and thrill of horror.
My favorite living author, Ally Blue, has combined all three of my favorite genres in one amazing novel: Down. In it she melds science fiction—a post apocalyptic future, a scientist team at the bottom of the ocean—with the horror of the alien and unknown, all woven together with a romantic subplot and a hopeful yet horrifying ending. She showed me that it’s possible to work together my genre favorites (horror, science fiction, and romance) and continues to inspire me to write what I love.