Yum, what a wonderful guest post by author Autumn Stark...and, wow, more titles that I haven't read and need to!
The Top Ten Books That Inspire(d) My Life
by Autumn Snark
I think as an author it’s important to know where you’re coming from and how you got to where you are. Here are ten books that influenced how I write stories and characters. From my first romance novel to the novels that taught me to break the boundaries, here are my favorite and most memorable influences:
Until You by Judith McNaught: This was the first romance novel I ever read and boy was it one to start with. The characters were so well developed and the sensuality level was unparalleled. I can honestly say that to this day I still find it fantastically elegant and sexy. Some of those sex scenes and their emotional contexts are just the most complex and human moments I’ve ever read. From the beginning of my experience with the romance genre, it showed me what a good story should look like (and good sex).
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté: This is one of those books that we’re all supposed to read in high school and usually hate because we’re supposed to read it in high school. I fully expected that at 17. But I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I adored the oddness of Mr. Rochester and Jane and how beautifully and ironically they fit together. I liked that their relationship was built on hidden weaknesses and vulnerabilities that ultimately flip-flopped into strengths (or vice-versa). It gave me a vastly different understanding of my own interest in the world. It helped me to realize I truly enjoyed the exploration of the complexity of relationships--also men in drag. Hilarious.
Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts: I first read this when I was babysitting at age 12. I found it on a side table in the living room and could not put it down. When the parents came home, the mother let me borrow it...and gave me three more Nora Roberts books to read after. I inhaled them. I was just coming off of Until You and my new found (and illicit) love of romance novels, and here was Nora like a beam of light into my addiction. What I began to love about her characters is that they all had their own “things.” The women in her novels had issues they openly dealt with and real lives. Even cooler was that they all seemed to be driven toward something. All the heroines were women with careers, not just jobs. Her books gave me a sense of what I wanted to shoot for in my own life.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding: One of the funniest love stories of all time. I really appreciated Fielding’s epistolary format and how she manipulated it for a modern reader. Bridget is, of course, one of the most empathy-inducing heroines in literature. I could identify with Bridget and her love of Darcy. Fielding’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice is one of wonders of the modern world if you ask me. She did it so well and, frankly, its what prompted me to explore romance AS literature.
The Abduction of Persephone/The Myth of Persephone by Homer/Ovid: As a kid, I moved around a lot and on one such move I resorted to raiding the local library--a very small library. I made it through the children’s section in about two weeks (we lived in a foreign country at that point and the library was limited). So naturally I gravitated toward mythology at the ripe age of 9 or 10. This myth stood out above all of them. No wonder--bad boy woos good girl.
Saving Grace by Julie Garwood: I love this book so much I keep accidentally buying copies out of fear that I don’t own a hard copy after all of my traveling. I also tend to hand it out at the slightest sign someone might be interested. Johanna was an amazing heroine for me to discover because she was one of the first historical (or any other genre really) heroines I’d seen who began as a seemingly weak woman who needed the protection of an alpha male...and really ended up saving herself.
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer: I know a lot of people talk a lot of smack about the Twilight series, but at the end of the day...it’s a fun story. New Moon in particular was a great and unforgettable read for me because it introduced me to some new ideas in narration. In particular, the way Meyer used the blank pages to emphasize the passage of time really resonated with me. Whatever else you think about her, she has a presence and an emotional resonance that is hard to deny.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Classic. I mean, really, if you read romance this is a must need read/watch. I know the formal language of Austen is not everybody’s cup of tea, but this is simply the story that launched a million novels. It is THE story of the romance genre. Darcy is the prototype for the modern romance hero and Elizabeth for the modern heroine. The best part? It’s a universally accepted romance novel.
You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister: I was already an adult when I read this one, but honestly it was one of the first times I realized you could have a humor-filled romance novel with a hilarious and flawed heroine. More than that, the heroine could be irreverent and flaw-filled. Where Bridget could do all of that and more as a Chick Lit romance heroine, I didn’t realize until this moment that a full-on romance heroine could as well. Interestingly, where Bridget was sometimes oblivious and vulnerable, Aisling was strong with a quick wit. It was a great discovery.
10. It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: S.E.P. is a phenomenal writer. She just is, but her books are works of art all in their own right. This book was the start of a series that really had an impact on me. Unlike a lot of the “perfect” heroines I had grown up reading, her heroines were flawed, but often charmingly so. Phoebe, the heroine of this book, was all kinds of complicated just like her life. She and the hero, Dan, were not at all perfect and made mistakes left and right. Their romance was rocky and their choices were built on shaky assumptions most of the time. I really liked that S.E.P. gave her characters questionable characteristics and ultimately redeemed them as humans who would continue on enlightened, but basically the same.
is an ADULT title
by Autumn Stark
Jay Markham, a wildly popular actor and a chronic womanizer, has become bored with his life. Jay decides to take a break and goes to visit his life-long best friend and famous romance novelist, Anthony Tate. But just because Jay decides to take a break doesn’t mean his fans will let him. The fans and the paparazzi follow him to the small Washington town and, in an effort to escape a particularly dogged fan, Jay ducks into the first open door he can find.
Parker Hardisson is a fairly normal, if self-contained, woman in her, ahem, early thirties. Relatively happy with her life as a freelance translator, she gets to work out of her own home and enjoy her life as quiet and drama-free as possible. So what if she’s a teensy bit lonely? So what if there’s some part of her that wants to explore the world? Things are working out just fine. So, when a mega-movie star comes slamming into her house, she wonders if she’s finally cracked.
Parker seizes the opportunity to make the deal of a lifetime. No strings, no questions. The problem is, Jay is playing this game by his own rules.
Jay heard Abby gasp and Tony curse, but he kept his eyes locked with Gabe’s. The other man seemed to consider for a second. There was one heartbeat, and then two. Gabe nodded to himself and uncrossed his arms.
“Gabe! Seriously? What is with this family!” Tony yelled as he moved to grab Jay’s arm. “Jay, man, this is ridiculous. What the hell are you thinking?”
“Stay out of it, Tony.”
“Stay out of--” Tony gaped at him before anger filled in the confusion. “Goddammit, Jay. I’m the only one here looking out for you at the moment. Fine, you want to get into it? Why don’t you just explain what happened?”
Jay turned to look at Tony and Abby. He smiled grimly down at Abby and rubbed a hand over his face.
“It doesn’t matter, Tony. My reasons don’t really matter, do they?” Jay turned, directing his question at the Stephens brothers. They both shook their heads.
“Nope. Outside.” Gabe left the kitchen, letting the screen door slam behind him. Connor pulled it open and held it in place, waiting for Jay to step forward.
Jay should have figured this moment was coming. The Stephens treated Parker like a sister, not a friend, and family, real family, defended their own. Not only had he wronged Parker, he’d wronged her family, too. He was going to have to get into it with this big ass Marine and suck up a bloody nose or a scratch or two. Jay might not be a Marine, but he wasn’t the boy Parker had once called him, either.
(Note from ELF) All In is the second title in the series, the first is
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Autumn Stark is the pen name for author and publisher, April Oglesbee. (http://apriloglesbee.com/)
All In is the second book in the All In series. Book 1 is already available on Amazon, B&N, and iBooks. Book 3 will be released in June 2014.
Autumn will be awarding at each stop a signed copy of All In to a randomly drawn commenter (US ONLY), and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon/BN GC plus a signed copy of All In will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US ONLY).
Please leave a comment with a valid e-address about a book (or two) that you found inspirational.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here