When Iola invited me to write a “Friday Fifteen”, I thought it would be easy. What actually happened is that it required some real introspection. I also discovered at least one common theme—I like authors who can weave an interesting, self-consistent and believable world in their stories.
Oops! I didn't mean this to be difficult!
1. C. S. LewisIt is almost impossible for me to pick a favorite work from C. S. Lewis. His Chronicles of Narnia are enjoyable to read (and to reread). They also inspired me to write stories for my Goddaughters. But, it is in his other works where I think his real brilliance resides. It is hard to find a clearer thinker than Lewis as evidenced by his works like On Stories, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, God in the Dock, The Screwtape Letters - the list goes on.
My sci-fi self also has a soft spot for his space trilogy.
2. J.R.R. TolkienThe man is a master story weaver. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the first story I remember reading and then being disappointed that it was over. I wanted it to go on. His work is many layers deep and is an excellent study in how to “create a world”. His essay, On Fairy-Stories is a must read for any aspiring fantasy writer.
3. George MacDonaldMacDonald was a Scottish author as well as a Christian minister. He has a real gift for infusing his works with both the fantastical and the presence of God. His fantasy works (Lilith, Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin and others) are amazing and influenced the likes of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Madeleine L’Engle. His more scholarly works contain flashes of brilliance, though they can be a bit hard to read.
It was George MacDonald who first introduced me to Christian fiction.
4. Georgette HeyerI go from fantasy to Regency Romance. Heyer is the best I have read in this genre. Most of her work brings to life the Regency period in England with very real, likeable (and some not so likeable) characters. I was really caught by her ability to write interesting and entertaining dialogue. Her stories are fun to read. For the record, I particularly like The Nonesuch, Frederica and Arabella.
I've heard there are people who don't enjoy Georgette Heyer. Personally, I have trouble believing this.
5. ShakespeareFrom the time I was in a Shakespeare play (Romeo and Juliet) in High School, I have had immense respect for the way the Bard puts words together. We don’t really talk like that anymore, but it is still fun to read or see his plays and marvel at how he expresses things. The ways he uses words approaches the magical.
6. PlatoWhat can I say? I have a degree in Philosophy and Socrates, as channeled through Plato, was one of my early heroes.
7. Fyodor DostoyevskyThey made us read Crime and Punishment in college. Once I got past the weird names, the writing was incredible. Dostoyevsky is a brilliant writer who opens up a whole, authentically Russian world that I knew nothing about. The Brothers Karamazov is another of his excellent works.
8. Edger Rice BurroughsOne of my earliest “binge” reads was the Tarzan series (there are 24 main books). Burroughs has a fertile imagination, and the Tarzan of the books is much more interesting than the Johnny Weissmuller movies (although those are fun too).
Burroughs was ahead of his time. We watched John Carter of Mars recently, and my husband was commenting on how derivative it was. Neither of us realised it was the original: everyone else copied Burroughs!
9. Victor HugoI have only read his work Les Miserables but it is one of the best and most moving books I have read. The hero is a true hero and the story paints an excellent picture of what Paris was like during the revolution.
10. Charles DickensDickens is justifiably one of the greats. His stories like A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield are classics. But some of the lesser known like The Old Curiosity Shop are interesting reads too. And, of course, who can forget A Christmas Carol (especially as done by the Muppets).
11. David EddingsBack to Fantasy. David Eddings wrote my second favorite epic fantasy, The Belgariad. It is an engaging story from start to finish and it introduces some very interesting characters
12. Piers AnthonyPiers Anthony is one of the most fun fantasy writers I have read. His Xanth novels are somewhat tongue in cheek, but well-constructed and good reads. The Apprentice Adept series is also interesting fantasy.
13. Chaim PotokPotok wrote a number of stories (The Chosen, The Promise, My Name is Asher Lev, etc.) that deal with life in and around the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish cultures. The stories painted a very interesting world for me as someone with no prior knowledge or experience of those cultures.
14. Robert HeinleinHeinlein was my introduction to Science Fiction. I read all of his “juvenile” novels before I discovered that he wrote other more “mature” works. I think he is brilliant at science fiction, though some of the characters in his later works take paths that I would not agree with. My interest in that genre, kindled by Heinlein, took me through Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, and others.
15. Ernest HemingwayWhile I don’t always like where Hemingway goes with his stories, I like his simple writing style. And some of his stories are quite good, like The Old man and the Sea.
I want to thank you, Iola, for the opportunity to share information on some of the most inspiring authors I have read. Now, on to the next fifteen.
About Ric DerdeynAs a Project Manager and Business Analyst, I took an unlikely route to writing my first book. Twenty two years ago, I was inspired by C.S. Lewis’s dedication to his Goddaughter, Lucy, in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. So I started a story for my Goddaughter. It was a fantasy, intended to be a fun story to read, but one that touched on the good one can (and should) do in the world. Then life intervened, and I put it away for twenty years. Two years ago I was moved to complete it. Bethany’s Tale, Book 1 of the Tales of Emradon was born. Since starting Bethany’s Tale, I have acquired five more Goddaughters whose tales need to be written.
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