Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Hero authors part 1 Tamora Pierce & Joan Lowery Nixon

In April I took part in the A to Z blog challenge and chose a theme of YA books. Several of the books featured were by a few of the authors who inspired my imagination in high school and who, still to this day, inspire my writing. Not gonna lie this post is being spawned for two reasons.......aka meeting two of my 5 hero authors! OMG!!!!! Let me tell you all about them and their books while I worship at their feet like the proper fan girl I am ;P And the second reason is I just returned from the 2014 RT convention in NoLa, where I got to meet the first author I'm talking about.
Now these are in NO PARTICULAR order, because to have to pick favorite would kill me. They are all goddesses of literary fiction in my opinion. I was originally going to do this in one post but as I'm typing it, I realize that I am too much of a fan girl and just have too much praise to give to address all 5 of these literary queens in one post so I'm going to break this up into 3 posts.

Since I just had the honor and pleasure of meeting her just last week we'll start here:
 Tamora "Tammy" Pierce--Goddess of YA Fantasy

She walked into a panel I was sitting in on at RT (solely to see her and try to absorb her awesomeness through hovering like a stalker) When she walked into the room it was like OMG this is the woman/goddess who wrote the Song of the Lioness Quartet! The first fantasy book I ever had the pleasure of reading! I can still remember almost all of the first book with perfect clarity and most of the second, third and fourth. That's how amazing and impactful this one 4 book series was for me! Not gonna lie, I teared up a little and was too star struck to say anything before the panel started, but I caught her at her next panel and got to meet her and take a picture with her! Then even better several days later, at the Giant book fair of RT, I was walking around a few minutes before the fair opened and I went to get a signed copy of one of her many fab books and we got to talking and she asked what I wrote and I said YA Fantasy and she said "Why haven't I read your book? Where can I find it?" Insert dead faint then loud squeal of absolute delight when I mentally regained consciousness! Tammy Pierce might read my book!!!!!!!!!! Just the possibility has me freakin'!
Okay, now enough of my fan girling and time to get into Tammy's books and why they are so inspirational and all around fantastical, just like the goddess author herself (Did I mention she talks to marmosets? Totally true, I couldn't make this stuff up!)
But I've now spent a good bit of time fan girling, time to give you what you came for: The reasons Tammy is such an amazing influence on me and my writing and a list of her series. These will be in order of my favorites ;P
1) Song of the Lioness Quartet  2) The Circle of Magic  3) Protector of the Small  4) The Immortals     
5) Daughter of the Lioness  6) Beka Cooper  7) Circle Reforged  8) The Circle Opens
Now this is only 8 of her series. Tamora "Tammy" Pierce is the author of over 50 books, most of which are either best sellers or very popular/cult favorites among those who love fantasy books. Song of the Lioness Quartet is my very favorite series of hers, hands down, because the very first book--Alana the First Adventure still rebounds in my head, even to this day, almost 15 years after I first read it. As I said above I can still recall that book almost perfectly and same with the second of that series, In the Hands of the Goddess, because while still being central in the realm of fantasy (and the first fantasy books I eve read and enjoyed) Tammy expertly blends in a healthy dose of romance! Now mind, Alana didn't end up with the boy I wanted her with, but the following books in the series made it quite clear to me why she ended up with whom she did and I now accept it. I especially love getting to see Alana's daughter story in the Daughter of the Lioness series. For many who have read Tammy's books I am sure they would agree that she spins a web of such believability and realistic worlds, characters, events, battles (OMG the battles! EPIC) and romance.
Now we all know I love my romance and this is one of the few authors that, while I love the unique romance she writes, I don't necessarily look for it the way I do with other books. 
For me, the fact that I can still remember such detail about her books, is something I hope to aspire to in my writing career, and something that I am desperately working on with Legendary, the other 3 books in my series and my other WIP. I can't say enough about this amazing author, especially now that I've gotten the pleasure to meet her and see just how......normal......and totally down to earth she is. (Aside front the fact she talks to animals and has some stories, of her experiences in life that you just can't make up!) And I know I'm not the only person who idolizes Tammy, even two other authors--successful authors--teared up and freaked out like I silently did when they met her. Overall Tammy's books have done an amazing job leaving their marks on my imagination and memory and that, along with her world building and character building abilities, are what I hope to take from her and find a way to apply to my writing.

Joan Lowery Nixon--Goddess of YA Mystery and Thriller
 Joan Lowery Nixon was the author of more than 140 books, several co authored with her husband. Sadly, Mrs. Nixon died in 2003 of pancreatic cancer, just 6 years after I had started reading her books--thanks to one of my english teachers in middle school. It saddens me that I'll never get to meet this goddess of thrillers, mystery and suspense (as well as historical YA books--but I am inspired by her mysteries so.....) but her spirit and influence live on in her writing and the books I still have from when I was 14 (15 years ago now) and still go back to re-read when the mood strikes. 
As you can tell from the graphic of some of my favorite books of hers, girls were always the main characters. While that is not necessarily uncommon, what is--to me at least--is the fact that every girl, every story, every parent, every boy (on the every other occasion that she included romance in these books) were all different every single time. The suspense always had me at the edge of my couch (or desk chair, when I tried to hide the fact that I was reading during math class with my text book) and the mysteries always had my imagination spinning. I just had to know who did it and why! 
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Mrs. Nixon won 4 Edgar Allen Poe awards (with another 5 nominations) in her career. And those wins and nominations are no small thing!
I talked above about how Tammy is a master of building all the things that creates a successful book, and Joan is no different. Like I said she can create dozens of characters and stories and she won't repeat herself. And that's something that I am always scared of doing when I am writing (whither it's book 2 or 3 or 4 of Legendary Saga or my other project--a YA Paranormal/fantasy) I know I personally get bored when I read more than one series by an author and some of the characters just seem the same, or the same plot formula is used for this book and that and this one. Sadly that can even be said for several YA authors and books---THAT AREN'T WRITTEN BY THE SAME AUTHOR OR EVEN IN THE SAME SERIES. 
If you compare twenty different popular YA books, I can guarantee you'll find at least 10-12 that are almost the exact same formula, pace, character and world building. And that saddens/frustrates me, and it is something that I am striving to make sure I don't do. And to that extent Joan Lowery Nixon is the perfect example and a standard that I want to live up to and learn from.
If you haven't read any of these books by either of these 2 of my 5 hero authors  I suggest you do! Or even better, if you have teen kids (girl or boy) get them to read these books! They are beyond appropriate for those age groups. 
Next up will be two more of my hero authors: Meg Cabot and Cate Tiernan.
Laters lovelies!
<3 always LH