Inspire: to breathe into, by Leslie

What authors and books inspire me? It may sound glib to say that I try to be inspired by everything I read, but it’s true. Why read, if not for some kind of inspiration? Some kind of breath—whether it be a breath of fresh air, a breather between projects, a spark for the next project, a moment when all is still, all is moving, all is changing. I am inspired by the good books I read: Louise Penny’s A Beautiful Mystery challenged me to dive more deeply into my characters, to get at what motivates them, how they respond the way they do, and to not hold back in playing with language.  Dial C for Chihauha, a laugh-out-loud mystery by Waverly Curtis, reminds me how much fun it is to laugh when you read — and my readers probably enjoy that, too.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Alan Bradley’s 4th Flavia deLuce novel, reminds me of the importance of the central character and her unique point of view. Flavia is 11 in 1950, a chemist living with her widowed (and still grieving) father and her older sisters in a great-but-declining English country house, a charming mix of precosity (Is that a word? Well, I used it and you know what I meant, so I guess it is.) and naivite.  Bernadette Pajer’s first mystery, A Spark of Death, a historical mystery set in early Seattle, inspires me to use time and setting fully. Broken Harbor  by Tana French inspires me to tell the story the way it needs to be told, and not worry about conventions or whether a passage is going on too long or whether readers will stick with tough stuff because their own lives are tough; they will, if you tell it true.

What of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain? Well, if Enzo the Dog doesn’t inspire you, nothing will! Plus it taught me a few things about driving. And that you can make the reader’s heart sink and her stomach ache because she knows what’s coming next and she knows it’s going to be bad and she can’t take her eyes off the story—it’s just so darned well done.

And Ivan Doig’s A Bartender’s Tale inspires me to use voice, to use my love of place, to dive into a story boldly and not be afraid of it.

Even the books I haven’t liked inspire me. They teach me what not to do, yes, but more than that: they remind me how much of reading is simply taste. “I like this, I don’t like that; your mileage will vary.” And that writing is bold and scary and to those of us who do it, as essential as breath.


What inspires you?

Leslie Budewitz

Influential Writers in My Life

I am southern fiction writer. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the women writers whose works have most influenced my own are a mixed bag of Southern ladies. From Dorothy Allison’s novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, to contemporary New York Times bestselling author, Deborah Smith, to Fannie Flagg, the Alabama lass that can tickle your funny bone with her words, the list is a long one indeed. And I haven’t even mentioned Eudora Welty, Margaret Mitchell, or Harper Lee.

Since this is supposed to be a short post, I’ll just mention one of my current favorites here. A native Georgian, Deborah Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of novels portraying life and love in the modern Appalachian South. I fell in love with her writing when I read On Bear Mountain., a story about the pull of families, choices that break the heart, and the redeeming power of art, love, and understanding – many of the same universal themes I build my own novels, such as Breaking TWIG, around.

In my next post on Sept, 24th, I’ll share other influential Southern women writers whose works have amused, entertained, and educated me. And I’ll reveal my favorite of all and the influence her work has had on me as an author, a Southerner, and a human being.

Thanks for stopping by,

Deborah Epperson



One or ten or one hundred influential books…

ImageAnn Minnett

MWW agreed to blog about the book(s) that impacted our lives. I had a hunch that the task would be difficult. Then I sat down to write something and found it impossible. I’ve never been a rebellious person. I usually fulfill my responsibilities and then do as I please on my own time. Not today. I can’t single out one or ten or one hundred most influential books.

I’ll tell you that in the past year I’ve read two novels that touched me deeply: Kent Haruf’s Bendiction and Peter Heller’s Dog Stars. I cried through both (a good thing), read faster to see what happened next, yet didn’t want either to end. One is about an old man’s death in a small town and the other about post-apocalyptic Colorado. So how could I love such diverse novels equally… Sparse, poetic style. Enduring hope of the human spirit. Beauty found in the tiniest moment.

Milan and Me

Milan Kundera had me at The Unbearable Lightness of Being. After my son spent a post-college eighteen months in Prague, he was hooked, too. He sent me more Kundera novels. Then, on my own, I found Kundera’s nonfiction, The Art of the Novel. In it, he reminds us of the importance of theme and what a character really is. Most important to me, “The novel’s spirit is the spirit of complexity. Every novel says to the reader: ‘things are not as simple as you think.’” Kundera influences me to dig for deeper meaning, to leave my readers a little provoked, a little shaken in the face of uncertainty. Judging by reader reaction, Remarkable Silence has managed to do that.

Thanks, Milan.Image

Books that make a difference by Marie F Martin

Marie F Martin_edited-1 (2)

Books. A simple five letter word. I cannot remember a time books have not been a part of my life. Living in rural Montana in the 1940s and 1950s was connected to earthy living, no telephone, no television. However, we had radio and my mom. Nightly, she read aloud to us. We heard classics and the Bible. Little women was one of my favorite and I vowed never to be selfish like Jo and take every other bite of food when feeding the poor. I have to say I have never done that. I was horrified when baby Moses was put in a reed basket and floated away on the Nile. I haven’t done that either. My babies were safely guarded. So I learned from my mother’s reading. The books she read to us made a difference, but the gift of sharing and family is what I really learned in our partially finished living room on a cold winter night when Dad and we five kids listened to Mom’s calm clear voice.