My Bookshelf, Myself

I am on vacation this week, so I’m going to shamelessly take the easy way out and just give you a list of ten authors who’ve influenced my writing, in alphabetical order by last name:

Margaret Atwood – Her writing is so exceptional it simultaneously inspires me and makes me want to pack it all in since there’s no way I’ll ever be as good as she is. Truly we are privileged to be alive and writing at the same time as her (though I’m certain people will still be reading her books long after we’re all dead).

Leigh Bardugo – No matter what genre you write, reading Leigh’s books is the best education on worldbuilding, character development, and backstory money can buy. I’m pretty sure she’s an actual witch, and I wish I were in her coven.

Suzanne Collins – I trace my obsession with first person present tense back to the Hunger Games books. I know not everyone loves first person present, but for me nothing beats it in terms of immediacy, tension generation, and cinematic pacing.

Gillian Flynn – THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ MASTER. My angry, bitchy, unapologetic heroines Kira and Joanna might not even exist if Gillian hadn’t paved the way with Camille, Libby, and Amy.

Sophie Jaff – If you haven’t read Sophie’s twisted, lyrical serial killer novel Love Is Red, fix that shit immediately. The first scene between protagonist Katherine and love interest Sael is everything I want my own books to be: unsettling and confrontational and sexy as all hell.

Jessica Knoll – Her female characters are nasty and mean and manipulative, and I love each and every one of them. Jessica is the writer whose career I most aspire to emulate (and yes, I too want to be rich and I’m not sorry).

Anna North – I am constantly recommending Anna’s novel The Life and Death of Sophie Stark to people, both for its representation of bisexuality and its masterful handling of multiple POVs. I pull my copy off the shelf often when I’m in need of inspiration.

Ayn Rand – Yes, really. I don’t subscribe to her politics but I’d be lying if I said the fucked-up power dynamics, sexual and otherwise, between her characters didn’t have a massive influence on my writerly imagination when I was young.

Rainbow Rowell – This one might be surprising, too, since my own work is so dark and twisty. But I adore Rainbow’s books, and the precision and empathy with which she draws her characters is endlessly inspiring to me.

Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven may very well be my favorite book of all time. I’ve read it 3 times, and I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to write a character I love as much as Miranda Carroll.

(You may notice there are no men on this list. While there are plenty of male writers I admire, since men so often neglect to include women when identifying their favorite authors and literary influences, I decided to neglect to include men on my list. Deal with it, dudes.)

Author: Layne Fargo

Layne Fargo is a thriller author with a background in theater and library science. She’s a Pitch Wars mentor, a member of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters. Layne lives in Chicago with her partner and their pets.