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G is for Gail Carson Levine
I first discovered the works of this delightful author in a children's literature class in college. We read "Ella Enchanted", and I've been hooked ever since.
Levine crafts wonderful worlds built around fairy tales and familiar themes. She plays with magic: she doesn't struggle with it, or force it. Reading her work is like being a child again, full of wide eyed wonder. She's also written an excellent book on writing: although it's geared for younger writers, it's filled with wonderful exercises for anyone who writes for a young audience. There are so few books written for teens who want to write, and I love that Levine not only writes for her target audience, but actively works to foster their creativity, too. What a superstar!
Gail Carson Levine also keeps a blog dedicated to dishing out literary advice. Whenever I'm stuck, I wander over there and try one of her prompts.
She is probably the single biggest influence on early writing. Although I write for an older audience, I love fairy tale re-tellings and magic, and Levine is one of my modern literary heroines.
Who are your favorite modern writers? Which authors have influenced your craft?