Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Influential Authors

Tough one, this.

I take the idea from Shelf Life. Which authors have influenced my thoughts on books, or writing. They are not necessarily my favourite writers, or those I most admire, but those who have influenced me in some way or another.

Over the years many authors have moulded and shaped my mind as a reader, and often radically transformed what I think about when I think about writing (haha, see what I did there?) Here are just a few of them.

  1. Russell Hoban - Taught me that the only limit to writing is the extent of our imagination.
  2. Haruki Murakami - Demonstrated how Magical Realism, well done, can express emotional upheaval through metaphor far more effectively than any amount of weeping realism ever has.
    He has also become my 'go-to' writer. Whenever I have become stuck with a book and struggled or not enjoyed finishing it, I go back to a Murakami novel and remember exactly why I love fiction.
  3. Milan Kundera - Offered my first foray into fearsomely intelligent, intellectual writing. Enlivened my mind to the possibilities of what a novel can do.
  4. Roald Dahl - Helped my fall in love with storybooks. I remember staying up late at night, huddled under the covers, when I was only about 7, desperately scrabbling through Matilda, totally unable to put it down.
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings was the first adult book I read to myself, when I was 10 years old. I started off reading it with my Dad but got bored of waiting for our evening reading so decided to read it on my own and from then on I never looked back.
  6. J.M. Coetzee - Demonstrated that great writing does not have to be complex or fancy, that what is most important is creating an atmosphere and telling a story and that the simpler you do that the better. Also demonstrates how unappetising sex scenes can be in fiction.
  7. Charles Palliser - Reminded me that for all the great ideas you have, the story will always be paramount. If a reader cannot put a book down then that is the greatest achievement you can ever hope for.
  8. Don Delillo - Offers a masterclass in the simplicity of good dialogue.
  9. Toni Morrison - Taught me that you cannot judge a writer by their agent! No matter how infuriating, rude, or disrespectful an agent/publicist might be bears no correlation with how charming, and amusing the writer will be.
  10. Kazuo Ishiguro - Showed me that writing is best when an author has the confidence to let their characters and events speak for themselves. That authorial commentary is best left to an absolute minimum.
  11. Olga Grushin - HER STYLE IS DECEPTIVELY LIKE MINE! Gave me a sense that perhaps I can be a good writer.
  12. Iris Murdoch - Ah, the unreliable narrator. Showed just how much you can do in the first person even if the narrator is delusional, confused and utterly unreliable.
  13. Salman Rushdie - Where to begin? Inspires with every sentence. Demonstrates how mythology can bring a novel alive and create a colour palate of vivid imagination which works in counterpoint to the main plot. His lively, jumpy, excitable prose is an absolute pleasure to read. And he ties together ancient mythology with contemporary culture in a way few authors can.
  14. Stephane Audeguy - Merges biography with fiction and fiction with biography in a way I have not seen done by anyone else.
  15. Michelle De Kretser, Martin Amis and many others. How unbelievably unreadable and turgid some work can be. This is a very good lesson to learn.
  16. Charlotte Bronte - The power of the narrator to carry a plot on their shoulders alone. If you have a great narrative, then I will read on forever, no matter what is happening in the plot.
  17. G.K. Chesterton - The king of witty thoughts on writing. Argues that the simpler the prose is, the more you can convey. Less is definitely more.

No comments: