Education of a Wandering Man, by Louis L'Amour. He is the great American novelist, and his autobiography is his greatest tale. He's the product of a bygone era who lived by principles that ought not be gone themselves--that goes for writing as well as for life.
The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins; seems like a low-hanging fruit, given its recent nature and its popularity, but I believe she changed the nature of YA books with just as much severity as J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. She not only showed she had that guts to do something unpopular for the sake of her story; she showed that she could give it meaning that most other stories miss.
Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson; when I finished that book and its sequels, I learned very quickly that I was not letting my imagination far enough outside the box.
The Bone series, by Jeff Smith; he packs so much into so few pages. Heart, creativity, a sense of mystery and wonder, and no shortage of laughs.
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman; like most people, I only read this book because I love the movie. As per usual, the book is 10x better than the film. Goldman throws out the rules regarding narrative structure and the breaking of the fourth wall, and to great effect. Always makes me wonder what rules I can break to really blow peoples' minds.
What is your writing process?
The long answer is here: http://onagrahampage.blogspot.com/2014/05/writing-is-all-romantic-and-what-but.html
The short answer? Brainstorm, chart it out, character roster, backstory and development, draft, throw away, draft again, edit-edit-edit until I get it right. Yerba Mate helps me through the hardest parts.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Nope, but I remember the first book that really hung with me: THE WITCHES, by Roald Dahl. Could not put that book down in the third grade. Such a bittersweet ending, I kept reading it so that I could experience the main character and his best friend right before they'd been turned into mice.
How do you approach cover design?
That's easy: I dial up my buddy Carter Reid, give him some vague pointers with a few bits of specific direction (when I have them), and then I let him work his magic, because he's bloody awesome.
What do you read for pleasure?
Tons of YA, mostly in the vein of sci-fi or fantasy, if it can take my mind in a new direction. And honestly, the more "real" it has a chance of being, the more it will rock my world. (See "The Martian", by Andy Weir.)
What is your e-reading device of choice?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Family, friends, and word-of-mouth.
Describe your desk
Holds up my computer, has a shelf for some writing books, and is generally a mess.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Henderson, NV. I know the feel of a not-too-small town, I know the feel of a big city, and I know the feel of a harsh climate coupled with economic hardship. From certain angles, these are things that affect a great deal of places, and I use that when trying to make my characters face real challenges.
When did you first start writing?
Third grade, at the prompting of my teacher, Mrs. Peplowski. Haven't stopped since.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I had started an online serial in 2011, and scrapped it after about half a dozen installments. Later I had an unrelated idea that needed some development, so I rehashed the serial as an "American Revolution w/ magic" kind of story.
Only the Americans lost the Revolution...because the British cheated...because they had magic.
My mechanical inclinations led me to give the Americans a knack for tinkering and engineering. The rest, as they say...
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Lack of success with traditional methods (even had a fantastic, successful agent for two years) and a hard itch to stop shelving projects after I'd finished them.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
People buy my book!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Finishing something and feeling like I did it well.
What do your fans mean to you?
A great deal. You will soon be the reason why I get to do this full time, and I say that without any shred of facetiousness. I thank you for your patronage.
What are you working on next?
Putting out a stand-alone that I wrote last year. Then it's off to many another project :-)
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.