Top Five Books That Influenced Me As An Author by Tere Michaels

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tere Michaels who is celebrating the recent release of The Heir Apparent.

Top Five Books That Influenced Me As An Author
I was an early reader – thank you Sesame Street! – and very soon after that, my author brain started to form. I wanted to read everything and I wanted to write my own stories as well. The action of scribbling stories on the back of school worksheets to “maybe I’ll be published one day” was a years long process. Baby writer me wanted to “sound” like my favorite authors. I wanted to be them. Figuring out who I was as a writer took time.

Fortunately, in my mad dash to read every book ever (or at least that’s what it felt like), I found these five books, which shaped my voice and freed me to be myself. That lightning bolt of – wait! You can sound like this? Write stories like this!? It was like a door flew open.

So thank you to all the authors on this list!!

1. The Wild Swan by Celeste De Blasis: I can’t remember why I picked up this book but once I did, that was it. The series became almost a fandom level experience for me. These books taught me world building in a very specific way – the world needs to be seen through the characters, not just a list of researched terms. There is an emotional connection between a person’s surroundings and their decision-making, and that level added to your story makes a huge impact. (Also the sprawling cast of characters – I mean, ha. I teach a class called “It Takes a Village” about supporting characters and um, guilty.)

2. Palomino by Danielle Steele: Okay, I read A LOT of Danielle Steele. She made me cry in a thousand different ways over the years – heck, there are moments still tattooed in my brain. Let’s talk about the final scene in “The Ring.” Let’s talk about the Valentine’s Day party in “Fine Things.” Let’s talk the goodbye scene in “Wanderlust.” You get my point! Anyway, Palomino was my first DS, picked up at a garage sale for a quarter. Oh I was hooked! But years later, I realized what Palomino unleashed for me as a writer. In the end, Samantha and Tate’s lives are changed by love – but she isn’t miraculously cured. They get what they wanted but without the promised packaging. A happy ending doesn’t mean everything is perfect! That felt so real to me and it’s absolutely influenced my writing.

3. Lightning by Dean Koontz: This book absolutely knocked me sideways because it was mixed genres with a very specific voice. Romance! Time Travel! Action! Humor! The dialogue felt like real people talking. If I had to pick any book that influenced my Vigilante Series, this would be it. Mixing tropes, weaving together genres, presenting real people in extraordinary circumstances – and highlighting their “um what?” as they experience it… This book felt like permission to go be free and not be afraid to play with all the things I love when I write a story.

4. Ordinary People by Judith Guest: We read this one in high school. This is one of the books that very clearly taught me that sometimes the most devastating emotional moments are QUIET. Or heck, even silent. That big drama is occasionally subtle. That not every terrible thing is loud and violent. To me, this story of a dysfunctional family reads almost like horror – the hair on your arms will stand up even as every moment is so.damn.civilized.

5. Maurice by E.M. Forrester: A gay romance before there was any such thing. Such a beautiful piece of writing from an amazing author (A Room With A View is one of my favorite books), but the true magic of this book is the palpable taste of emotion in every line. It reminds me to slow down, to think about a person’s inner life when I write. To forget easy explanations. To remind myself we are always unreliable narrators to our own lives! “This is the way it is and always will be” isn’t reality, even as we (and our characters!) truly believe it!

The Heir Apparent is my current (re)release. It takes place in the world of the uber-rich, where “one day all this will be yours” is a heavy burden! Henry – heir to a huge fortune – longs to be enough for his demanding father. He balances his work with a secret – a quiet affair with his childhood best friend and currently his chauffer, Archie Banks. But time is running out on their arrangement as Archie prepares to move on. When a terrible act of violence upends their world, Henry and Archie must make serious decisions on how to put their lives together.

The heir apparent to a vast international company, Henry Walker has focused his entire life on pleasing his cold and distant father, a futile effort that’s left him no time for life, love, or making his own decisions. He has just one friend—one dirty little secret—Archie Banks. Raised on the Walker estate alongside Henry, Archie is now Henry’s driver, bodyguard… and occasional lover. Archie is loyal, but he’s about to graduate from college and has plans for his life that don’t include living every moment at the beck and call of Henry’s father. Not even for Henry.

With no warning, a shocking kidnapping leads to tragedy and chaos, thrusting Henry and Archie into a dramatic struggle that threatens them individually and as a couple. Can they find a way to heal the hurt of the past, save the company that is Henry’s birthright, and find a future together?

1st Edition Published by Loose Id, February 2013

About the Author:


Tere Michaels writes happily ever afters in the big city – with heaps of snark, angst and humor. Her focus is on characters and all the ridiculous ways they trip through life and love. She has written fifteen books including her popular Faith, Love & Devotion series and the superhero saga, The Vigilante.

She is a member of RWA and Liberty States Fiction Writers.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner, Amazon, Google Play, or Kobo.


  1. This was a good post. I used to read a lot of Danielle Steele’s books, but I haven’t read any of her newer ones yet.

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