When asked which author was my biggest influence, I sat and thought on that for a moment. How does one pick an author? It’s like asking you who your favorite parent is, or what your favorite book out of a series is.

Rick Riodrian, the author of Percy Jackson & the Olympians, wrote the books for his son, who needed a bedtime story. He wrote them for his son’s love of Greek mythology. His son has ADHD and dyslexia. Rick formed his characters by showing his son, along with his readers, that you can overcome any obstacle. Rick taught me you can achieve greatness with the small things you do for people, like making a simple promise and intending to keep it until death. He also taught me that you’re never too old to act like a kid again. For goodness’ sake: the man has sword fights in Camp Half-Blood T-shirts!

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, showed me the magic in the world and the victory that lies within yourself. With her amazing characters she captures the highs and lows of humanity. The way Neville goes from the class punching bag to defeating one of the seven horcruxes. Or how Draco goes from being the classic school bully to a full-blown Death Eater, betraying his classmates and school to Voldemort. J.K. Rowling also shows that there really is no such thing as a small character. From Dobby the house elf, to Harry himself, everyone is a part of you by the end of the series. She taught me never to give up and she didn’t when twelve publishers turned down Harry Potter. She taught me that maybe there is magic in the world, but we’re all just too Muggle to see it.

Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series, taught me you don’t have to be generic in your writing—you write to please yourself, not anyone else. Her books are edgy and exciting; they have great detail and amazing grace. She writes of love and struggles the way an actual person would handle them. I have never read such a unique book series. She manages to capture the beauty in the simple things and analyze the smallest detail to make you feel as if you’re there with the characters! You feel their pain and smell what they smell as they fight alongside each other! I felt my own arm muscles tighten as she described plunging a glowing seraph angel blade through a Dahak demon’s chest, making it vanish to its own world.

I think most important of all, the writers of all those small-time fanfictions taught me that you don’t have to be published to be an amazing writer. With their perseverance and original ideas, they are the writers of tomorrow and the voices of the future. They pick at small things in all their favorite books and run with them. They create the most astounding things such as switching the gender of characters to alter the story, making the bad guy a good guy, taking Voldemort from Harry Potter or creating demigods in today as representations of current events. Their stories are inspired by authors, but the writers of fanfictions inspire others and make an endless chain of fascinating writing.

My three favorite authors and the unpublished authors of all the fanfictions around the world have brought different valuable experiences to my own writing and perspective on the spoken word. When I put all those amazing qualities together and add in my own voice and writing, I hope to show a new perspective of youth writing.

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