I guess I must have been about eleven when my mom gave me one of her books to read. It was "House of a Thousand Lanterns" by Victoria Holt. After reading that book, I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Victoria Holt wrote gothic romance back in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Almost all of them were historical. A couple of them were less gothic and more historical. But they all pulled me into another world, creating vivid settings and fascinating characters. She took me all over the world: Britain, France, India, Australia and Germany. Her heroines found themselves in perilous situations, quite often suspecting the hero was the culprit. Her heroes and heroines were flawed, those very flaws contributing to the plot and moving the story forward.
I fell in love with those stories. In the future, other authors influenced my choice of writing. Jennifer Wilde instilled a love of the 18th century in me. Early Kathleen Woodiwiss made me appreciate sweeping language and heroes and heroines of mythical proportions. Laurell K. Hamilton convinced me vampires could be sexy. But the author who made me a writer was Victoria Holt.
She died awhile back, but her influence is still with me today. If it hadn't been for her, I would never have picked up a pen and wrote.