If there's anything the writers I know share besides an unhealthy relationship to caffeine, it's a childhood spent immersed in books. All my young-adult favorites look more like accordions than novels, because they've been dropped into the bathtub so many times.
They're also seared into my consciousness like few novels I've read since. I used to chalk that up to the impressionability of youth, until I started revisiting those stories and realizing how well they stand up as literature. The ones I continue to love now, a quarter-century after first mauling their spines, tend to confront complex social issues bravely, convey emotions with tremendous, empathetic clarity, and rest on compelling narrative voices. In other words — the very elements that draw me into novels today.