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What book made you want to become a writer? [February 2012 Prompt #1]

On a recent binge to find creative inspiration from some of my favorite Southern authors (both old and new), I dug around for a little bit of background info on a journalist I’ve taken a liking to named Wright Thompson. A native of Mississippi, Thompson is a senior sports writer for ESPN the Magazine and my favorite blog, Grantland.

(Quick sidenote: Not all of his stories are about sports, in fact the first few stories of his that I read and fell in love with discussed bourbon, William Faulkner’s niece and a hot dog joint Birmingham, Ala.)

A quick Google search turned up several interesting interviews with Thompson. In every interview I could find, Thompson found a way to work in a note about how he was first inspired to write by Willie Morris’ North Toward Home which Thompson read while recovering from a bout with mono as a kid. Here’s how Thompson describes the life-altering experience:

“Aha’ moments only really happen in movies, except that was an actual ‘aha’ moment. I started a book and didn’t know what I wanted to do, and finished a book and did. Almost every decision I’ve made since then has been toward that end.”

I thought it was so interesting to think that a single book could set someone’s path in life, yet when I looked back at my own path I found there was a book marking the point at which I decided to become a writer way back in the third grade. For me, it was The Lion’s Paw by Rob White. My teacher at the time, Mrs. Baldauff, read the book aloud to the class over several weeks (it was one of those unthinkably long chapter books!) detailing the journey of Penny, Ben and Nick as they traversed the state of Florida in a sailboat via narrow canals and one exciting trip across Lake Okeechobee. By the end of the book I knew that I wanted to use words create worlds where people could experience fantastic adventures.

So that leads us to this week’s prompt–the first in our series of weekly blog prompts. Take a moment to write about a book that turned you on to the world of writing and post a link to your blog in the comments below so we can all take a peek!

Don’t forget that next week’s topic is a creative writing piece inspired by this line, “…she stepped across the threshold and took the first breath of her new life…”

Later days,

– Shannon



  • Nancy Drew inspired me to start writing mysteries at a very early age. I blog about it here: https://kweiss01.posterous.com/the-haunted-showboat

  • Definitely Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; that book changed my life completely.

  • Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was 5.

  • I would have to say it’s a true toss up to what was more inspiring, Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol or JRR Tolkien.

  • I have to say, Ms. Andre Norton (nee Mary Alice Norton), with ‘Warlock of the Witch World’ & then ‘Breed to Come’.

    The first being its amazing scope of a fully-realized world, and later, finding out this was a woman writing about evolved cats in a post-apocalyptic world sans humans.

    Later, Tad Williams ‘Tailchaser’s Song’. The idea that the cats we see and live with possessed a complete culture, ancient mythology, and belief system alien to humankind. These and many more books made me want to become a writer.

  • Marisabel

    I think it wasn’t to become an author per se, I didn’t knew what the concept involved back then. But, The Little Princess, since then, I wanted to be a storyteller and a painter and make the world magical. I was eight.

  • Thomas Wolfe made me want to write–especially Look Homeward, Angel (1929). A couple of years ago, I visited “the most famous boardinghouse in American fiction,” and you can read about my trip at https://bit.ly/zKKU7X.

  • I’m a bit late to the party, but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the spark that got me writing and, in a roundabout way, taught me how: https://coldfirewriter.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/what-book-made-you-want-to-become-a-writer/

  • Always loved reading adventure stories as a kid but it wasn’t until I read 1984 that the wall came down and I realized a writer could actually “go there” go beyond the happy ending, go to the darkest place and keep going. Then I was helpless to resist the call.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Sheila (and to everyone above for sharing theirs). It’s so interesting to read how the books and stories are so unique to each author but still say a lot, both about their writing and their personality.