So I'm here at Red Room now, and I'm supposed to identify my authorial influences.
I hesitate. I hesitate, because I don't know.
I can tell you which authors inspired me. Anne Tyler's amazing novel BREATHING LESSONS taught me that a book can be about ordinary folks and still be extraordinary. I have re-read Ann Beattie's LOVE, ALWAYS a dozen times or more to admire its simplicty and wonder how it is that such weird people described in such few words are so compelling. I received a hand-me-down copy of Raymond Carver's WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE as a teen-ager and I was riveted and in awe of how these stories could hook me so. S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS just bowled me over. CATCH-22 left me awestruck and it's still my favorite novel ever.
Did they influence me? I don't think I sound like these writers, and I don't think they sound much like each other. I suppose they might have left their mark on my work, but would it be noticeable? And if so, isn't that the same as "derivative"? I'm also influenced by journalism, which is my day job. I'm influenced by my own life events and my children, by world events, by stages of life as I pass through them, and by weird things I overhear as I go about my day.
I think it would be easier for other people to answer that question for me based on what they read. But, not knowing my entire reading history, they might name authors I've never read. That would be interesting to know, come to think of it. Then I'd have to make sure to run out and read them.
What about you? Who are your influences?