My first inspiration to write came from reading amazing books, most notably, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I’m sure I’m not alone! It makes sense that no matter what creative outlet you enjoy, the masters of that craft serve as inspiration. We want to be like them, right? Early attempts to forge ahead (especially when we’re young) often end up as (poorly done) copies. But that’s how many of us began.
In the science fiction world, few authors have been more inspiring to me than C.J. Cherryh. One of the first books I read of hers was Rimrunners, the story of a space marine who ends up on a “spook” ship hunting her old comrades.
This was one of the first books I returned to for a re-read during the lockdown, and it was just as enjoyable as ever. I can’t recommend her Company Wars series books enough. But what is it about this book that is so inspiring?
I took 3 lessons away:
- Few authors have made me feel like I was truly on a space faring ship. Without over explaining or excessive detail, Cherryh makes you intimately familiar with a space faring experience. I learned to give readers just enough good information to help them feel immersed in my world.
- A strong female lead. I learned from a woman writer how to write a strong woman, and It’s not about having her carry guns and kicking ass. Bet Yeager makes her own choices without a man to lead her around or influence her. She stands on her own. And her character leads with her personality, needs and conflicts–not her looks.
- Keep it moving. Once a Cherryh story gets going, the tension never lets up. Even in moments of retrospection or breaks in action, the story moves forward to the final conflict. Besides feeling real and being complex and interesting, the books are real page turners and great fun to read.