At some time in your early life, did you discover a particular book that shaped your response to literature and helped to make you a writer? For me, the transformative literary work was DRACULA, which I read at age twelve. It lured me into the whole realm of horror, fantasy, and "soft" science fiction. This teenage enthusiasm inspired me to become a writer and major in English lit (NOT the guaranteed path to fame and fortune, by the way!). My love for speculative fiction also led to a devotion to C. S. Lewis, whose works changed my life in profound ways.
In addition to DRACULA, three anthologies enlightened and inspired me: THE OMNIBUS OF CRIME, edited by Dorothy Sayers (long before I met Lord Peter Wimsey), which, despite its title, is about half composed of horror stories; GREAT TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL, edited by Herbert A. Wise and Phyllis Fraser, a comprehensive volume of classic tales; and THE SUPERNATURAL READER, edited by Groff Conklin (one of the great spec fic anthologists of the mid-twentieth century), a mix of classic and more recent stories. Conklin's book contains the first "sympathetic vampire" story I'd ever read aside from the ones I'd written myself. It was a great thrill recently to be able to buy online a first edition of the Wise and Fraser anthology, and I've just ordered a copy of THE OMNIBUS OF CRIME to complete the "set." I absorbed all this literature before I saw a single horror movie. Thanks to this broad background in seminal horror fiction, much of my juvenilia—beginning with my first ghost and vampire stories at age thirteen—reads like a pastiche of Victorian and Edwardian fiction. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I later developed a more contemporary mode of storytelling, and meanwhile my vocabulary and style gained dimensions they might otherwise have lacked.
What book or books made you a writer?
Margaret L. Carter (www.margaretlcarter.com)
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