Words are power. Words cut through us, heal us, make us feel special, and destroy us. We have a choice each and every day to choose words that will help others instead of tearing them down. We have a choice every day to bring light and hope with our words. And as writers especially, we have the power to reach multiple people with our words and hopefully touch them or help them through a dark time in their life.
Words have always been my way of expression. I remember times where I felt like if I discussed a topic, I wouldn’t be able to speak about it clearly, so I wrote a letter about it and handed it off to the person I wanted to communicate with. Every time I write a story, not only am I searching for words to express myself, but I’m looking for words to reach out to others and let them know that they’re not alone in their struggles. Writing can be difficult for these reasons because I never want to come across as insensitive… But I do want to come across as honest. Honest, hard reads are the books that stick with you in the end; that challenge you to look at the world in a different way or to push through the darkness that may be surrounding your life.
As a fellow writer, I wanted to share with you the authors and books that inspire me with their words… The ones that have helped me push through bittersweet times and have inspired me to write the way I do.
Six of Crows Duology – Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows was originally recommended to me by my now-husband, and he ended up gifting it to me when we were dating. I devoured the book within a couple of days, despite the impressive amount of schoolwork I had yet to get done.
The story was dark. It was raw. Each character had a dark past they wrestled with throughout the entire book. Each character had to learn to grow and hold onto hope. And the storytelling got darker and darker, more and more twisted, and just when you thought there couldn’t be a light at the end of the tunnel — there was.
The duology is dark. It’s gut-wrenching. The characters aren’t what you would call heroes in today’s world. But there is good, and that’s what matters.
If there’s one thing I could ever adopt from Bardugo’s writing, it would be that ability to have a dark story but still lead readers into the light.
Rebel of the Sands Trilogy – Alwyn Hamilton
I saw Rebel of the Sands on a shelf in a Barnes and Noble. I picked it up, read the back, sobbed internally because I didn’t have the money to get it, and returned it to the shelf. I saved a picture of it in my phone to remember what it was called. Then I forgot about it and didn’t rediscover the picture until months later. Luckily by then I had money to get the book, and that’s when my love for the trilogy was born.
If Hamilton’s world building isn’t enough to keep you invested (DESERT FANTASY!!!), then her characters most certainly are. Each one feels real. You ache when they ache. You’re happy when they’re happy. When they’re struck with trauma and grief, you truly feel it. You root for these characters 210%. They have their flaws and they make stupid mistakes and sometimes you want to shake them for their stupidity or die from secondhand embarrassment, but they still become apart of you.
If there’s one thing I could ever adopt from Hamilton’s stories, it would be her ability to create real, tangible characters.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
I had this book on my shelf for at least two years before picking it up, all thanks to the urging (*coughs* obsession *coughs*) of my dear friend, C.S. Taylor. And I’m so, so thankful she pushed me.
The story has the dark quality of Bardugo’s writing, but it’s whimsical. It reads like a Grimm’s fairytale, but with more detail and raw characters. The magic is wonderfully explained without there ever being an info-dump chapter. The romance that blossoms is just as dark and whimsical as the prose. The villains and stakes in the story cut to your very core. I can’t recommend this book to you guys enough.
If there was one thing I could adopt from Morgenstern’s writing, it would be the prose that drips with venom and whimsy.
The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
Most of you know by now my undying love for S.E. Hinton and the renowned The Outsiders. If there was one singular author I had to choose to be like out of all the ones I’m mentioning, it would be her.
Every single book Hinton writes, The Outsiders especially, has a raw story and raw emotions and raw characters. Every single book has a bittersweet ending that leaves you happy and with a hole in your heart at the same time. Every single book makes you return to it — either for a reread or just mentally so you can think over the themes that were hidden within.
S.E. Hinton is for sure my biggest muse, and she’s the biggest inspiration for my writing style. I want to challenge my readers. I want them to feel raw at the end of each tale. I want them to remember my books and think back to the themes presented. As I said above, the best reads are the hard ones — the ones you return to in the end.
Vicious – V.E. Schwab
One of my more recent reads, Vicious has a new place in my heart. A story of pure fantasy and anger, revenge and justice, and powers that should not exist.
The characters are portrayed as both heroes and villains (commonly known now as “antiheroes”) and it is done perfectly. You don’t always agree with the characters’ choices, but you still root for them. You’re on the edge of your seat wondering if they’ll ever make the right decision, and what the right decision will cost them. It’s a beautiful rendition of humanity, and I can’t get enough of it.
If I could adopt one thing from Schwab’s writing, it would be her ability to make characters that flawed that you still root for in the end.
Everything Everything – Nicola Yoon
Another book that I read basically in one to two days. Everything Everything is powerful in that it gives you details, but not too many. It gives you hope, but not too much. Everything is almost stated bluntly and simply and it’s perfect for this kind of tale where bluntness and simplicity aren’t quite what the characters are experiencing.
And the twist at the end… Guys, I don’t cry when I read. I’m a heartless villain, yes, I know. But I teared up when I got to the twist. I remember gasping aloud and then setting the book down, then picking it up to read what I clearly had not just read, thank you. The twist is perfect and it kills you in every which way, and it makes the ending bittersweet.
If there was one thing I could adopt from Yoon’s writing style, it would be her ability to craft simplicity into something complex and use twists in the most shocking ways.
All the Wind in the World – Samantha Mabry
Samantha Mabry is a new author I’ve recently picked up, but I am so excited to read her other books. I found All the Wind in the World in Dolly’s Bookstore while my friend from VA was visiting. It’s a short book. The title is metaphorical. The synopsis does a great job of stabbing you in the heart and warning you that the entire book is going to be bittersweet. Sounds like my kind of read, doesn’t it?
I bought it and had to force myself to read it slowly because I knew it was going to crack my heart into millions of little pieces. And spoiler alert: it did. The characters’ struggles were real. I could feel the sun on my back too as they slaved away in the fields. The tension was phenomenally done. There were times my heart was beating fast because I knew something was about to happen but I didn’t know what. The grief the characters feel is ever present. The things they have to work through more than real. And the prose was one of my favorites — abrupt and matter-of-fact. There were lines that surprised me, and I wanted to highlight them and put them on my bulletin board.
That last part actually made me incredibly happy because I’ve had people describe my writing style as having poignant lines that startle you and make you stop and read them again. Until All the Wind in the World, I hadn’t really found a book similar to that. It was very neat.
The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer
Finally, my latest read. My love for The Lunar Chronicles is well known by this point, from both my blog posts and all of the memes I’ve shared on social media. My friends, who read the series before me, want me to stop sending memes because they’ve seen most of them before. I keep sending them because even though I’m late to the party, I am going to freaking party, thanks. 😉
If told that I couldn’t pick S.E. Hinton as my main role model and had to choose someone else, my second pick would probably be Marissa Meyer. I’m surprised at this because only last year did I read Cinder and didn’t like it and wasn’t even going to finish the series. I am so glad my friends encouraged me to read on, and now I can’t wait to have the books on my shelves and read through them again.
You root for all of Meyer’s characters throughout the series. It’s honestly hard to pick just one favorite. You start off going, “Oh well that’s easy! I like this character because… But oh wait! I also love this character because of… And then there’s this one!” Seriously, it’s way too hard to pick a favorite. And all of them are different and have different struggles and different points of view; it’s all very well done.
On top of that, I love how Meyer’s writing style is dark and intriguing and deals with heavy issues without being explicit. One of the things I’m working on with my writing is how to handle heavy issues delicately without explicit language, and Meyer’s style is a great model for that.
(Also, you should just read this series because I love it. That is all.)
I’m sure all of you can probably see a pattern here with the authors I like: dark stories with faint glimmers of hope, mostly character-driven with raw characters you root for, bittersweet endings, and thought-provoking themes. If one were to ever sum up a Savanna Roberts story, I hope those are the things people would think of. 🙂
Have you read any of these books? If you’re a fellow writer, who are some authors that inspire you?