How to be a writer: Authors reveal their influences

We surveyed about 200 authors who will be attending this year's L.A. Times Festival of Books, asking them about their lives as writers. One thing we wanted to know was what books influenced them. The answers were varied -- about as many cited "Harriet the Spy" as did "War and Peace" - and their explanations were fascinating. Here are some of the most interesting responses to the questions "What book or author inspired you to be a writer?" and "Of the works you were assigned to read in school, what was your favorite?"
By Carolyn Kellogg
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