At least once a year, I pick up my tattered copy of Stephen King's "The Stand" and re-read it. The love I have for this book (and all things King) is one of the defining factors in my goal to be a writer.
I want to give people the adventures that King gives me. I want to transport them to the places he sends me. And I want to give them the inspiration that I get from him.
While "The Stand" was the novel that fully cemented my love for his works, it's his short stories that influence me most today. When I'd completed my first flash fiction (which isn't particularly good, I now realise), I showed it to a few friends. One of them, also a King fan, gave me the greatest compliment anyone ever could - "It's kinda like a Stephen King story."
The way he can take a simple idea and twist it into something that is so much more, so disturbing, and yet so real. That's what I want my writing to be like. I want people to come away from my stories with the same goosebumps that I got the first time I read "Firestarter" or "Insomnia".
I try, intermittently, to write stories that are lighter in theme, less dark and twisted, but each time something happens to the characters, and it ends up with someone being killed, or maimed, or psychologically scarred for life. I don't mean it to happen like that, but I guess that's the way my brain is wired. I like darkness in my characters. I like stories where people don't always act the way you expect them to. I like situations that make people do things that they wouldn't do under any other situation.
Maybe I need to give up on writing happy, fluffy stories and just accept it will never happen. After all, I don't think Stephen King's going to be writing a Mills and Boon novel any time soon.
So tell me, who influences your writing and why?