I was thinking about some of my favorite writing influences the other day, so I put together a short list of just a few of them.
Dave Barry - In tenth grade English class, we had an assignment to write about foods of the world. I forgot about the assignment until 2 AM the morning it was due. I sat on my bedroom floor and floundered for a topic. I decided nachos qualified. So I wrote about some nasty microwaveable nachos I had earlier that day. The paper came back with an A and this note - "You should be the next Dave Barry!" Since I had no idea who that was, I looked him up and got hooked. I even went and saw him in person when he came through town. Sometimes lying to bolster a kid's self esteem has its benefits.
Patrick F. McManus - I consider Pat McManus to be the new Mark Twain. He tells stories of camping, hunting and growing up in Idaho. He can craft a tall tale better than most. I would recommend any of his books, but start with his first - "A Fine and Pleasant Misery". But don't get it at the bookstore. Call the number on his web page and order it. His daughter will answer the phone and tell you, "Honey, do you just want his autograph inside, or do you want it personalized? 'Cause if'n you want it personalized, you'll have to wait till he gets back from campin' again. Ha! He calls it 'research'!"
Terry Pratchett - Pratchett is a master at creating vivid scenes without becoming too wordy. He uses symbolism, parody and satire to great effect. He's well known for using footnotes and witty one liners. In addition to any of his Discworld novels, I recommend the The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, a collection of his best quips from these novels.
What are some of your writing influences? If you're not a writer, what are some of your favorite authors?