One Book After Another: The books that turned me into a writer (Starting with Mercer Mayer)

As I considered what to fill my blog with, it dawned on me that I could share with my blog readers the books that have influenced my development as a writer. As most writers will tell you, our passion to write usually began with an insatiable appetite for reading. The more books we consumed, the more stories began to form inside our own busy minds.

The obvious person for me to begin with talking about is Mercer Mayer. His work has had an impactful presence in my life from the time I was first learning to read. Just Go to Bed and I Was So Mad were Little Critter books that my parents fell back on whenever my brother and I wouldn’t go to bed or when we got into heated arguments over Legos. Characters like Little Critter and Little Monster were relatable and the books were always visually zany and entertaining. Mom would encourage us to take the time to look for the frogs and other quirky creatures always hidden within the main illustrations. There was another layer of story existing within each page.

While many of his books hold a special childhood memory for me, it’s been One Monster After Another and Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo that have most captivated my imagination. The beautiful illustrations throughout these books are the kind that you can stare at all day long; there are so many layers and different creatures, with all sorts of witty speech bubbles and hidden, inside jokes. The Trollusk and Little Laff are my favorites of all his monsters. I should also mention that, for some reason, Professor Wormbog was a stylistic influence on me as a child; his pith hat, long white mustache, and safari jacket were the epitome of cool.


How is this NOT the epitome of cool? He has his own monster zoo, even! 

As I was writing my own book, I was trying to ensure that my words were as vivid as Mayer’s illustrations are. When I described the setting, I wanted it too be made up of the same bold lines and dark colors I saw in the Trollusk’s forest from One Monster after Another. When I imagined what the bramble goblins looked like, I fused Mercer Mayer’s monsters with Brian Froud’s goblins. They would have to be varied and unexpected; a little frightening, but entirely charming.


Mercer Mayer’s stamp collecting Trollusk 

My Mercer Mayer book recommendations:

  • There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (1968)
  • A Special Trick (1970)
  • One Monster After Another (1974)
  • Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-A-Zoo (1976)
  • How the Trollusk Got His Hat (1979)
  • Just Go To Bed (1983 Little Critter book)

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