Whenever someone asks me who my favorite author is, I give them an automated response- Stephen King. Before I read his books, I had read many young adult books with my favorite being the Fear Street series by R.L. Stine. Yes, I was obsessed with horror/mystery books since then because these books incited an emotion in me. They pulled me into the mystery, leaving me gasping and wanting more. I would read a whole novella in one day with my favorite snack just an arm's length away- those were the days, since it has been years since I've cozied up with a good book.
Before I digress further, let me get to the point. The second I laid my hands on a Stephen King book (Misery), I couldn't think of picking up any other book. His books were raw, free and real. He got into the depths of the characters minds and made them three dimensional. It made me wonder what I was even reading before. No other author had made his characters so real, deranged and sympathetic.
I had to read everything that he wrote and at the bookstore I would just head to aisle labeled S or K or Horror. I was simply mesmerized by his realism and his ideas and to feel scared as I ventured into one of his horror books. True story- I actually had nightmares reading Salem's Lot and another short story whose title I cannot remember.
After a couple of years, I decided to become a writer and Stephen King became my imaginary mentor. I tried to write Horror, but found myself drawn to writing dark fiction. I wrote tirelessly and prepared my first manuscript 'Repeated Lives'.
All the while I was writing it, I kept wondering why I couldn't write a Horror story like Stephen King. The answer didn't come to me until years later.
Yes, Stephen King's books fascinated me, though to be honest his later works don't have the same allure his older works did. It then hit me, that though the novellas and classics I had read in my childhood and teenage years weren't as real as the Stephen King books, they had their own draw that had gotten me fascinated with fiction in the first place.
Though I didn't have dreams about the stories I had read, they had given me hours of amusement and transported me into a glorious world of mystery laced with betrayal. I had to write those kind of books as well.
That led me to think back further to the classics that had amused me as a child when I had read the abridged versions of the splendid literature that still occupy my bookshelf. And that made me remember another great author who lived in my subconscious mind.
Anna Sewell- the author of Black Beauty - was inspirational to me as well. I must have read Black Beauty several times over the years, enthralled by horses and the lives they lead and of the struggles they face. What enraptured me even more was Anna's story.
The author had suffered an injury in her ankles as a child that may have caused her weakness as she grew older. She had to take the horse cabs to travel and from there she drew the inspiration to write her novel. Her sympathy for the horses compelled her to work on one of the best classics ever.
She presumably worked on the book for close to six years, even though her health was failing. At times she was too tired to work on the novel, but so persistent was she to tell the story that she persevered and had her Mother help her write the story.
The novel was completed and sold to a publisher after which it became an instant success. Anna was fortunate to see her hard work pay off and enjoy the success of her book that inspired many to treat their horses kindly. Her goal to stop the mistreatment of horses was achieved through her heartwarming story.
A few months later she died, but her struggle to work on this novel and expose people to the treatment of the horses was inspiring.
Every time I suffer a writer's block or waver away from my goal to be a successful writer, I think of Anna and how she persevered regardless of her failing health. If she could endure then why can't I?
So the next time someone asks me who my favorite author is, I should take a pause and think of who inspired me to write and who encouraged me to persevere.
Images taken from wikipedia