Hello everybody! Today we welcome Elizabeth Miles, author of Fury (which is AWESOME) to the blog with a guest post on her inspirations & influences.
Please give it up for Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Miles’ Top 8 Influences and Inspirations
I think of influences as having to do with my environment and my personal experiences, and inspirations as individual people (whether I know them or not). With that in mind, I compiled a list of both; if you’re wondering why I chose eight, well, it’s because eight is my lucky number!
Allow me to preface this list by saying that I believe the best writing advice is the old classic: Read a lot. Read everything. And given that I follow that advice, always have, it’s safe to say that my influences are vast and strange. Articles and books that I’ve recently read for my job as a journalist cover topics as diverse as mycology (the study of fungi), urban planning, sexual health, and politics. When it comes to reading for pleasure, I’m a total genre-jumper, moving from horror to fantasy to contemporary realism every time I pick up a new book. All of this influences me, whether I’m aware of it or not. However, what follows (in no particular order) are some specific Influences and Inspirations.
1) My parents. Although they’re individuals, my parents serve more as influences than inspirations (although each of them, in their own ways, are inspiring). As educators — both of them served in the New York City school system for most of their careers — they instilled in me a great love of learning, as well as a drive to succeed academically. They fostered and encouraged my creative pursuits, whether on the page or on the stage. And, let’s be honest, we have a complicated relationship (hey, being an only child can be weird) – the ensuing teenage angst certainly propelled a lot of my creative energy and helped shape the person I am today.
2) Lauren Oliver. She’s one of my oldest friends, she’s incredibly talented, she’s generous, and she has one of the strongest work ethics I know. It’s hard not to be inspired by her, especially since we’re working in the same field. She’s also an inspirational cook, by which I mean I want to eat everything she makes.
3) Stephen King. A fellow Mainer, a prolific author who has overcome his own personal battles, and a master of suspense and horror. Duh.
4) Journalism. The way I was taught to write at Boston University and at my newspaper job certainly influences the way I write fiction. In some ways, it’s positive – I’m comfortable with editing and with deadlines, and I think I have a certain “writing tone,” in other ways it’s been a challenge – I needed to learn to linger in scenes in a way that felt very foreign to me at first.
5) Nature. Living in Maine, where you’re never more than a 15-minute drive from the ocean or the woods, the natural world becomes a force of its own, one that creeps into my writing and the way I think about stories. I certainly think the foreboding winter atmosphere in Fury ups the creepiness, acting almost as a character in itself.
6) Beyonce. Okay, this might seem like a weird one? But I really think Beyonce carries herself with such class and dignity and enthusiasm – it’s something I seek to emulate, even if I’m not a super-hot superstar (or soon-to-be mama!). Not to mention her absurd talent and dancing abilities.
7) Judy Blume. Sorry to be a fangirl here, but I just remember reading Judy Blume books as a young girl and thinking, I want to write books. She just *gets it* – humor, sympathy, and realistic emotions.
8 ) Musical theater. Musicals are: melodramatic, uplifting, completely bizarre (I mean, people just *bursting* into song??), and totally amazing. From Oklahoma! to Les Miserables to Rent and a million in between, musical theater has been a crucial part of my creative life over the years, as an audience member and as a performer. I think my love for musicals imbues my world with just a little more wonder, allowing me to sometimes suspend my disbelief and just *be entertained.*
Elizabeth Miles lives in Portland, Maine and writes for an alternative newsweekly. Fury is her first novel. Visit her online at www.ElizabethMilesBooks.com, find her on Facebook (facebook.com/elizabethmileswrites), and follow her on Twitter twitter.com/milesbooks.
We have ONE copy of Fury up for grabs! The contest is open to residents of the US and UK, and will run until September 10 at 11:59PM (PST). In order to enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know what YOUR favorite Greek myth or retelling is. Only one entry per person, please! Multiple comments will be disqualified. Good luck!