Debut Novelists and the Books That Shaped Them

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Lit Hub asked the seven first-time novelists shortlisted for the 2015 Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize what book inspired them to become the authors they are today. Sophie McManus says,

I was ten and reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin when the understanding that I’d make my life with books settled upon me. It was as if someone had dropped a heavy cloak over my head, its marvelous weight to keep me company and keep me warm wherever I went, as long as I lived.”

Other inspirational stories cited are Curious George (Viet Thanh Nguyen), The Giver by Lois Lowry (Tanwi Nandini Islam), and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (Angela Flournoy).


Kelly Lynn Thomas reads, writes, and sometimes sews in Pittsburgh, PA. Her creative work has appeared in Sou’wester, Thin Air Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, metazen, and others, and she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. She is hopelessly obsessed with Star Wars and can always be found with a large mug of tea. She also runs the very small Wild Age Press. Read more at kellylynnthomas.com. More from this author →