Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What I've Learned from Other Authors by Beth Shriver

I had a thought the other day about how other writers have affected me and what made me start writing. I can remember when I read my first series; it was, Narnia, of course. Because I enjoyed that series so much my father suggested that I read one of Stephen Lawhead’s books. Steve was in my dad’s Bible study group, so he told me to come down after class and Steve would bring me an autographed copy of his book, The Dragon King. I could have cared less. I wanted a lion not a dragon. Needless to say I ended up reading the entire series and loved it! Since then I have always had a book close by, or I’m writing one. My taste for books has widened. I can’t pick just one genre but I can tell you what a few authors have taught me about writing.

Along the lines of Lawhead, Lewis and Tolkien, I enjoy the allegory that makes you think beyond the obvious and dig deeper. John Jakes made me appreciate historicals, which was a major feat after having the most boring history teacher ever. The first romance I enjoyed was, Mrs. Mike, showed me that a realistic story about relationships could be done tastefully. Janet Evanovich taught me how to add humor into my stories. Even the darkest or most serious of books can use a little comic relief to bring out another side of a character. The classics made me realize the changes in the literary industry and to learn from the ‘greats’.

I’m not a big horror fan but reading Stephen King’s, The Stand, was powerful and filled with symbolism. My dad has read all of the Louis L’Amour books at least twice. Louis may as well have lived at our house as often as he was there in thought. My dad taught me to look for the ‘take away’ in his books which gave the story more meaning. Francine Rivers took a giant leap when she wrote one of the first ‘edgy’ Christian fiction stories. Her Mark of the Lion series is still my favorite. Francis Chan wrote a non-fiction book that was so incredible I started reading non-fiction again.

Last but definitely not least is, The Way, my first Bible, you know the author. I wouldn’t have chosen to write in the Christian market if I hadn’t studied the Book when I was a teenager and on into adulthood. Because my faith is as much a part of me as taking a breath, the Christian undertone that is weaved into my stories is not forced. Its how I think and how I feel, not a sermon, just a way of thinking about life when you’re a Christian, and if you’re not a believer, how to get there. I don’t ever want to write preachy. I want readers to tell me if I do, but if my story doesn’t show that Way of living I’m being a hypocrite. I hope I’m finding that balance in my writing and in life.

What authors inspired you to write?

What authors and in what genres do you like to read?

Childhood memories of her grandfather's ranch came alive as Beth wrote her first Amish story. Her parents grew up in the country, so she understands pastoral life and respects those who make a living off the land. She frequents a nearby Amish community just south of Fort Worth for an occasional church service or brunch with the bishop and his wife. And on the way home she stops at the community store to get some plum jam!

In 2003 Beth began writing her first book. A couple of years later it was published and she has been writing ever since. Beth received a degree in social work from the University of Nebraska and was a case worker before starting a family. Beth followed her passion and has written in a variety of genres in both fiction and non-fiction. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency.

Beth's latest book, Annie's Truth, is book one of the Amish romance series, Touch of Grace, Annie must leave the security of her family and community to find her true identity when she discovers she was adopted as a newborn and raised by her Amish parents.

Connect with Beth at www.BethShriverWriter.com


  1. Francine Rivers has been a huge influence on me. Her novel Redeeming Love showed me that Christian fiction could be well written and make an impact on lives. Her Mark of the Lion series, which challenged me spiritually, blew me away and will always remain a favorite.

    I read almost all genres, but my favorite (because I also write in the genre) is romance--both contemporary and historical.

  2. What a lovely post! I too was incredibly influenced by the Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis not only made me want to be a writer, but Aslan got me through my junior high years. My twelve-year-old son is just starting Narnia and I'm hoping it will have the same effect on him.

    The classics also continue to influence me, not so much in their style, but in the depth of characters and well-thought-out plots.

    Thanks for inspiring me! I may just give Janet Evonovich a try.


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