There are two other questions for the Sparkfest, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that rules were made to be broken (I means seriously, when you break the speed limit for light you travel through time—definitely a rule to break!). The question at hand is “Is there a book or author that changed your world view?”
I guess the real answer to that question is yes, of course. But there was no one book that made me say “Wow, my world view has been altered.” I’m really the quintessential product of my experiences. That being said, there is this one writer who has a style that just bowled me over, and the sad thing is, she’s not as popular as she should be.
She’s won Hugos and Nebulas, and still she isn’t breaking down the bestseller’s list, and that’s a shame. She is on my top five favorite authors of all time. Her plots are awesome. I love her characters, and her world building is supremely authentic. ::Fan girl squee::
I was first introduced to Bujold by my mother (the avid reader), and she had the greatest praise I’ve ever heard my mother give an author. “Her writing is so beautiful, if she wrote the phone book, I’d read it” –my mother.
Now my mother hasn’t studied writing, despite having a natural talent at it (which she rarely uses), but the thing she’s describing is what agents are always harping on about: Voice. It is Bujold’s voice that transports us to dinner parties, phaser battles in space, romance in fantasy worlds, causes exclamations like “He’s worse than Mad Emperor Yuri!” to fall from my lips. But even more than the voice, there was something else about her writing. She reached right into the soul of the characters and brought out those thoughts you have in those terrible moments of grief and pain, those morbidly funny commentaries on tragedy and the impracticalities of biology. She gave us characters who were scarred and hurting, imperfect with their needs and wants, their flaws, and strangely they seemed like people I know. The people in her novels could almost be members of my family.
More than anything, her novels made me realize that even though my family was pretty screwed up, there are other people in the world hurt and traumatized by normal life. Even though her characters all had larger than life problems, the scars left on them were always from such normal things as a death in the family, or a dark family secret that came to light. More, she showed me that, like my family, there are other people who see the world as it is and find they’d rather laugh than cry (and there’s plenty to cry about). Other people have those crazy sarcastic thoughts in their heads in the moment of crisis.
If there is any writer whose writing I’d love to be told mine is similar to, it would be hers. And there’s the rub. Being like someone else doesn’t cut it. I’m not her. What works for Bujold will probably never work for me. And that’s just all there is too it. Bujold’s novels have shown me some greater truth about the world and the people in it, but most importantly, that I’ll never be able to pass that revelation on to another person if I’m just trying to copy someone else.
Oh, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s novels are awesome (I believe the technical term is Awesome Sauce on Toast). Seriously, go read one of her books now. I recommend Shards of Honor as a nice place to start.