I signed up for a readers/writers site today – all part of the marketing effort for the novel. If I want people to start taking noticing, I know it’s important for me to participate with them – not so much that I become a nuisance, and certainly not banging the drum for my book every time. I just need to be a valuable member of a few important communities.
Anyway, that’s not really the point of this post – I’m going to take a break from marketing today with a little introspection and reflection. One of the questions I had to answer was: Which writers have influenced you the most? As I thought about it, I suddenly realized how much my favorite writers have influenced my novel. I wasn’t aware of it when I was writing, but looking back now – a couple of months after crossing the last i and dotting the last t – I’m beginning to think that it wasn’t my book at all.
This is what I wrote in my profile:
‘As I read back through my novel, I hear echoes of my favorite writers everywhere.
Above all, Hardy and his apprentice Fowles: sympathetic, yet deeply-flawed protagonists; the inevitable tragedy of human relationships, partly predestined, partly caused by human frailty; the quest for an ideal, never realized.
Camus and existentialism: the protagonist separated from society, the outsider – something of Eliot’s Prufrock here too – ‘I should have been a pair of ragged claws …’
Lawrence, who never air-brushed sex.
Swift, who taught me satire and political allegory; he showed me how to build parallel microcosms and macrocosms.
Beckett and Pinter: masters of dialog and the disconnected speaker. They made me want to write novels as playscripts. French literature and Joyce helped: they showed that speech doesn’t need speech-marks. And Pratchett proved that dialog rarely needs to be attributed in a well-written story.
Graham Greene and Hemingway: started me on my overseas adventures and taught me that literature needn’t be literary.
Le Carré: taught me that best sellers could be literary.
Hopkins and Joyce: lovers of words just for their shape and sound.
The King James Bible: I may no longer be seduced by its religion but the power and beauty of its morality and its language influence almost everything I write.’
Interesting – almost nothing from the last 50 years. Only Pratchett amongst contemporary writers. That’s probably something to do with my age. For books as with everything else, the deepest impressions are probably made in our teens and twenties. So for me the cut-off point would have been around 1980.
Do any of you feel the same as me? Do you think your writing is heavily influenced by the people you’ve read? Who’s had the most impact on you?