This is going to sound like I’m looking for flattery, but what I’m actually after is assistance.
I have never been able to muster the perspective necessary to say who I write like. It’s one of the things authors are occasionally expected to do; it positions you in the genre, in the textual conversation we’re all having, and coincidentally helps with self-promotion, pitching new projects, and a bunch of other writing-related program activities where you’re not allowed to ramble on for five minutes describing what you write. Sure, we’re all individual snowflakes, but comparisons are still possible, whether they’re straightforward or of the intersection-style “Bridget Jones’ Diary meets H.P. Lovecraft” variety.
But I can’t do it. For individual stories, occasionally — more by comparison to a genre or a specific point of inspiration — but I’ve got no perspective on the general body of my work, not in a useful way. So I turn to you, my internet friends: who do you think I write like? Why? Are you basing your comparison on plots, favorite themes, prose styles? (That last is the true black hole of my inability to reflect; again, I can say an individual story has a nineteenth-century sound to it or whatever, but I can’t begin to describe my prose in general, much less liken it to anybody else’s.)
I can think of two comparisons I’ve gotten in reviews, both of which have induced something of an “I’m not worthy!” reaction. The more comprehensible one, from my perspective, is Ursula K. LeGuin; she’s the daughter of anthropologists, and it shows. (I’ve gotten that comparison twice, for “White Shadow” and more recently “Kingspeaker” — both of which are set in the world that I created to be my anthropological playground.) When I think about my whole cultural fantasy thing, I can see where those reviewers are coming from, even if I’m a long way from having sufficient ego to liken myself to her. Less obvious to me are the Midnight Never Come reviews that compare the book to the work of Neil Gaiman. Aside from the semi-parallel to Neverwhere, I have a harder time seeing where I’m like him.
But, as I said, I have no perspective on this. So please: imagine you’ve got a friend asking for recommendations. What authors might make you say, oh, try Marie Brennan? And when your friend asks why, what would you say to them?
I’d be hard-pressed to answer those questions, myself. I’m hoping you guys can help out with that.