Friday, April 28, 2006


Okay, riffing a little off of yesterday’s post, let’s focus in on the R of ROWE (or I guess I could have called it WORE or even OREW…but OREW doesn’t make sense. Focus, Brett, focus.)

I wrote yesterday about how important reading is to the education of a writer, and how it begins with the first time we picked up a book.

So what I wanted to discuss today is early writing influences. I’ll list a few of mine, but I’d love to hear yours, too.

Here are mine in no particular order:

1. The Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigator books. I did a whole post about this a month or two ago, so I won’t go into any further here. Except to say I loved these books when I was a kid.

2. Anything by Alistar MacLean. I must have read a dozen books he wrote when I was still young…Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare, The Guns of Navarone, and The Golden Rendevous just to name some. These were truly the foundation of my love for thrillers.

3. The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins. Wow.

4. Black Sunday by Thomas Harris – so much better than the film.

A break here for a moment. Obviously, my parents instilled in me a love of reading. But it was my Dad’s choice of genre that influenced me the most back then. He was and still is a huge science fiction fan. Being a physicist (now retired), I guess this stands to reason. So the following influences have a decidedly Sci-Fi base:

5. Robert Heinlein. He is first and foremost. I read everything I could of his. Stranger in a Strange Land, Farhams Freehold, Citizen of the Galaxy…the list is long.

6. Arthur C. Clarke. Of course.

7. Isaac Asimov. The Foundation books I read many times.

8. James White. A lot of people probably haven’t heard of him. He wrote a series of space medical dramas call, I think, Sector General. But those weren’t the books of his I read. It was his stand alones like All Judgment Fled (which I’ve read at least fifteen times), The Watch Below and The Dream Millennium that I love.

There are definitely more authors I could name. As I got older, Robert Ludlum, Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, Stephen King… And of course the list continues to grow.

If you’d like to share, tell me some of your early influences. I promise not to use the information against you…unless I really, really have to.


JT Ellison said...

Honestly, John Sandford was my inspiration to start writing crime fiction. But if I think about it, and you promise not to tell...
When I was little I thought God looked like Perry Mason.
I'd go to church and they'd talk about Him and all I'd see was good old Perry.
So maybe that had more of an influence than I thought.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Early writing influences?

My grade 11 English teacher told me my style reminded him of Bronte, and I still love Jane Eyre.

But the biggest influence for me has been Ian Rankin. I picked up my first Rankin after reading the back cover when I was perusing in the bookstore, and I remember thinking, "If I could write half as good..."

There are certainly others, but he's been the single biggest influence in inspiring me to write, inspiring me to write crime, and possibly inspiring me to drink...

JT Ellison said...

No, see, Sandford inspired me to write. It's John Connolly that inspires me to drink. Drives me to drink. That man can write a book. I'm exceedingly humbled by his abilities, and if there's anyone I'd love to be able to emulate, it's John.
Will I be committing career suicide if I admit I haven't read Rankin yet?

Brett Battles said...

J.T., no career suicides here. There are some very famous writers I still haven't gotten to...(my TBR pile is very high.)

As for inspiration to drink...I'm sorry, I didn't realize that required inspiration. I'm going to have to work on that...

Sandra Ruttan said...

No JT. I understand. Everyone lives in fear of the master and some just can't cope with his greatness.

(I AM joking!)

Different writers do it for different people. Which is cool, because it gives me hope there'll be a market out there for me.

J.B. Thompson said...

Okay, how did I miss out on this discussion? Five points docked for my not paying attention in class.

I actually feel a little out of the loop on this because all three of you are thriller writers (right?) and I do fluffier stuff (J.T. will argue that point, but it's true).

What I read growing up - every Nancy Drew ever produced in hardback (and I still have them all). Alfred Hitchcock's Three Investigators were among my favorites as well (okay, there's something else Brett and I have in common, in addition to the ceiling-high TBR pile).

When I decided at 16 that I wanted to write a novel (on a dare, not an inspiration) it was only natural that it be a mystery. I was in my gawky lovesick teenager phase at the time, too - I think that's probably where the romance came in. Boy meets girl had to work out, ya know?

And, since I can't commit career suicide because I'm not a thriller writer, I've never read Rankin, either. I'll admit, I always get him confused with Fleming ... you thriller writers may cringe forcefully at this if you so desire. ;)