The Books That Inspire My Books

I was thumbing through my bookshelves a couple days ago when I came across my much-loved Percy Jackson novels. With a grin, I pulled out one of the books and felt a rush of memories fly through me.

Oh hello there, Percy, I thought to myself, I remember you!

See, when I started writing my first book five years ago (gulp! has it been that long?), you could often find me perched on the sofa with my laptop, a cup of tea, and a Percy Jackson novel next to me. I wanted my little book to be just like Percy when it grew up: with a hero to root for, a world you wanted to live in, and a story that stayed with you long after you put it down. Lofty goals, for sure! I was rather ambitious, hmm?

Ah, youth!

Sadly my first novel didn't sell, but I've kept up the tradition of choosing an "inspiration" book for every manuscript I've written since. Whenever I get stuck in a rut or feeling lost in a draft, I grab my inspiration novel and flip through the pages, and—well—get inspired.

For instance, my second book was a YA alternate history that I wanted to be uber action-packed. Like, soldiers with superpowers! Secret revolutions! Killin' Nazis! (I have a weird brain, okay?) Yet, more importantly, I wanted to create a heroine who would give the story a heart. And so, the obvious choice for my inspiration book was The Hunger Games. Honestly, can I be Suzanne Collins when I grow up? As I was drafting Anomaly, there were so many times when I would pick up THG and whimper a little because I felt so inadequate. Collins has this amazing knack for weaving heart-stopping plots and crafting fleshed-out worlds and creating characters who come to life so vividly in my mind. (Oh Rue!)

On a side note, I'd like to switch brains with you, Suzanne.

Lastly, as I draft my new YA fantasy, I've been reading and re-reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone. This book. Oh, this book. The characters. The incredible world. That moment when you finally learn who Karou really is. I know I can never be as creative as Laini Taylor, but I hope by studying her plot and her prose that my own work will be just a little bit better.

On another note, I'd like to switch brains with you too, Laini.

Anyway, do any of you guys use an inspiration book when you're working on a draft? If so, I'd love to hear what they are! And if not, how do you get inspired when you're writing?

Happy Monday!