These lists are always difficult. I don’t actually have a list of favorite books. Though a few have had an impact on me at one time, I’ve never clung to those titles as favorites. Over the years they tend to be replaced by new finds. So I’m always intimidated by these sorts of list.
Therefore, I’m going to share the books that at some point had a very big impact on my life and had some influence on Dead Spots.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BronteHow it relates to me: This is the only book that I can say is a favorite. In fact, it is the favorite. Jane is such a wonderfully complex young woman that overcomes all the difficulties in her life through the strength of her character. I adore everything about her to this day and Jane Eyre remains my absolute favorite.
How it relates to Dead Spots: Mackenzie comes from a difficult background. Her mother has instilled in her a fear of the world and has made her doubt her limitations. As Mackenzie travels through the world of nightmares and dreams, she starts to identify her own strength and starts to shape her future.
Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
How it relates to me: When I was a little girl, I lived in a very isolated part of Texas. Back then the speed limit was 55, and it took forever to reach the nearest big city. The story of Laura’s family as they carved at a new life for themselves was very inspirational. It gave me hope that one day I could leave the area where I lived and find a new home. I also hoped that one day I would find a good husband like her Almanzo. And I have!
How it relates to Dead Spots: Mackenzie is in search of a new life after the one she’d created with her husband dissipates in the aftermath of tragedy. She has to pull up stakes and start back to her childhood home, but she’s not very happy about the situation. In truth, Mackenzie is without a home, and as the story progresses, she begins to understand that a home is not always a place.
The With of Blackbird Pondby Elizabeth George Speare
How it relates to me: I read this book again a few years ago, and I still like it quite a lot. Kit is definitely a Jane Eyre type heroine and I loved her evolution over the course of the book. At the time I was struggling with what I felt were expectations about who I was supposed to be when I grew up. Listening to my parents, teachers, and people at church talk about my supposed future irritated me. I felt I should be the one to make choices. Kit’s struggle to find independence and determine her own future spoke strongly to me.
How it relates to Dead Spots: Like Kit, Mackenzie finds herself facing a difficult world where all the rules have changed on her. She’s uncertain if she can depend on the other people she encounters once she passes through the dead spot. She’s actually very headstrong, but this part of her personality has been subsumed by her mother for a long time. Like Kit, she starts to push back against the forces that seem determined to break her.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
How it relates to me: This is the first horror novel I ever read. It terrified and yet enthralled me. I couldn’t stop reading and stayed up the entire night. I was completely mesmerized by the beauty of the language. I was immersed in the story and some of the visuals clung like cobwebs in my mind long after I put it down.
How it relates to Dead Spots: One of the challenges of Dead Spots was creating haunting images that would draw the reader into the story, but also send a chill down their spine.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
How it relates to me: By the time I read Coraline, I had read a lot of the books in the horror genre. I initially picked up the book because I love the author and expected it to be a whimsical story. When I finally finished the last page, I was surprised at how frightening and eerie the book become. Slowly, the layers of dread and fear had built up until I found myself turning on additional lamps in my bedroom as I read.
How it relates to Dead Spots: In the novel, the supernatural aspects of the story are deliberately laid out to reveal clearly that the world Mackenzie is trapped within is never truly safe. Everything can be suspect, from a child’s cries to shadows slithering along the outside of a house. My desire was to create an atmosphere of unease in the reader, not necessarily of terror.