Prized Blog Tour–Guest Post by Caragh O’Brien

Caragh O’Brien is the author of the dystopian novel Birthmarked, and follow-up, Prized, which is due to hit bookstore shelves on November 8th.  Dystopian/post-apocalyptic books are among my favorite genres, and Caragh’s world-building is fascinating stuff. 

I have always been a reader, and I often wonder about the books that have influenced the authors I enjoy reading today.  When I was invited to participate in Caragh’s blog tour for Prized, I jumped at the chance.  I really wanted to ask Caragh what books shaped her reading background, and made her want to become a writer herself.  Check out her response – have you read and loved any of the books that inspired her to become a writer?

Five Books that Inspired Me to Become a Writer by Caragh O’Brien

I’ve been thinking about your question at odd times for weeks now, Julie, trying to sort through my memories of key books at different times of my life. Picking five books that made me want to be a writer has not been simple, because books inspire in many ways, and there are many books that have made me want to be a reader, which is already part of being a writer. Still, I’ve done my best to choose the books that mattered the most, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Harriet the Spy (1964) by Louise Fitzhugh is a no-brainer. When I was ten, my best friend who lived across the street from me loaned me her copy to read and we both immediately began carrying notebooks and spying on people.

L.M. Montgomery is more widely known as the author of Anne of Green Gables (1908), but her quieter, more brooding novel Emily of New Moon (1923) is the one that first made me aware of how a writer can make stylistic choices. In the middle of the novel, Emily writes letters to her deceased father, often using non-standard spelling, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into Emily’s mind through her own writing. Being in her letters felt so immediate, and the spelling (for example, “tradishun”) also came as a relief, because I felt there might be a chance for me to write despite being a poor speller myself.

I discovered Other People’s Children (1998) by Joanna Trollope when I was raising my family, and she so completely captured reality in her fiction that it jarred me in my own life. Her understanding of subtle shifts in relationships in families, and the torment we can give each other consciously or otherwise fascinated me, and made want to try my hand at exploring those kinds of relationships on paper. While I didn’t publish any of the novels I wrote during that period, I credit Trollope with inspiring me to try.

Billy Collin’s poetry knocks me over. My son and I heard him reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival a couple years ago, and we practically fell out of our folding chairs when he got us laughing. The next minute, we were stunned into unnerved silence, afraid to look each other in the eye. His collection in The Trouble with Poetry (2005) is one of my favorites, with “You, Reader,” and “The Lanyard.” His work makes me want to tell complex, subtle, human things simply, and to make each word count.

I was reading Twilight (2005) while I was writing my first draft of Birthmarked, and it was just so much fun, and so fast, and so unapologetically romantic that I could tell with every single word that Stephenie Meyer must have just loved writing it. I was having this kind of rollicking, swash-buckling, moody experience with my own novel, feeling rather like a crazy person, and Meyer’s book kept giving me permission to just enjoy myself and go for it. Don’t worry, it seemed to say. Write your own story. Have fun. That was brilliant for me right then.

Prized Code #6: R

So that’s the scoop on books that made me want to be a writer! Thanks, Julie, for having me by to visit on Manga Maniac Cafe. You’ve really given me a chance to think. I hope to see you at the chat on Goodreads at the end of the tour, and I’d love to hear about some of the books that have influenced you, too. Tomorrow the Prized blog tour will take me to The Compulsive Reader.

Thanks again!

All best,


Make sure that you check out all of the stops on the Prized blog tour so you can collect all of the letters to decipher the secret code!  Click here for a complete list.

You can learn more about Caragh by visiting her website.

You can chat with Caragh and lots of book bloggers on November 8th.  Just hop over to Goodreads, where Caragh will be participating in a chat.  Click here for the details.

You can order both Birthmarked and Prized using the links below:

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