Did the books you loved make you into the writer you are?

Boy and girl readingDrafting my latest query letter, I did a little exercise. No, not twenty press-ups on the floor, but one prompted by this particular agency’s submission guidelines. As part of the marketing approach, I was asked to thinking of two to three (i.e. three) comparable books. That wasn’t a problem, but it started me thinking about what books I liked, the ones I returned to or was impressed, exhilarated or moved by so I drew up a list and put them into genres.

The results:
Historical fantasy
Romance (All of Georgette Heyer, Austen)
Urban fantasy
Literary fiction
Modern/general fiction
Sci-Fi (all types)

Several combined genres, such as Lindsey Davis’ Roman detective, Falco, or JD Robb’s 2057 detective Eve Dallas, many contained a strong romantic theme e.g. Diana Gabaldon’s Highlander series as well as their core genre of historical fantasy adventure and some were European literary fiction with a fantasy element such as Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind.

So the answer seems to be a base of history, the next layer thriller/crime, a large dollop of fantasy, and flavoured throughout with romance.

Which is quite a relief as that’s what I write.

What does your reading history point towards? And are you surprised by it?

Updated 2024: Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. JULIA PRIMA,  Roma Nova story set in the late 4th century, starts the Foundation stories. The sequel, EXSILIUM, is now out.

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2 comments to Did the books you loved make you into the writer you are?

  • You’ve probably seen my response on Twitter, but if not, I’m reading a book by Susan Hill called Howard’s End is on the Landing. She decides not to buy anymore books for a year and just read from her own home library. She discovers many books she’s never read, but lots of old ‘friends’, and comes to the conclusion that these particular authors have definitely helped to shape her into the writer she has become. It’s so interesting. I thoroughly recommend it. I just picked it up in the library but I’d quite like to have it as it is a sort of personal reference book.

  • Alison

    Thanks for the recommendation, Denise. Off to order it…