Friday, 14 November 2008

My influences: AKA whose books do you read?

When filling in all the publicity questionnaires and answering queery letters and emails, one of the questions asked of me most often is who has influenced my writing the most. I could try to seem very worldly and name all the great names of classic fiction, but with the exception of The Lost World by Conan Doyle, and the occaisional dip into Sherlock Holmes, also by Conan Doyle, I have to admit to never having read any of the greats. I'm ashamed to say I haven't read any of the classic PI novels either, so can't join in when people start talking about Hammet, Spillane, Parker etc.
I began reading the pulp stories of R.E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, and also loved Poe, so you'd ppretty much expect me to have gone the route of the horror writer. I do love horror, but more than that I love the suspense and thriller elements of those authors' tales.
Next, I moved onto the 1970's western stories. Edge and Jubal Caid etc, that owed more to Peckinpah and the Spaghetti Westerns than they did to the classic western story. Again, I was drawn by the action and thrills.
This put me on to Don Pendleton et al, who were writing about anti-heroes like The Destroyer and the Exterminator and such like. Yup, the action did it for me.
Then I started to pick up some of the greats of modern PI/crime/supense/thriller writing.
David Morrell's books, Brotherhood of the Rose, Fraternity of the Stone, The League of Night and Fog, and Covenant of the Flame had a huge influence on me. So did The Fifth Profession. I've followed Morrell ever since.
Dean Koontz, though often referred to as a horror writer, has written some great supense thrillers and Intensity, Mr Murder, Dark River's of the Heart, The Good Guy and The Face are some of my favourites (but I've also read everything else he wrote that i could get my hands on).
Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books and his Terry McCaleb books resonated with me and still do.
Lee Child's Jack Reacher is often seen as a modern incarnation of the type of books that Don Pendleton wrote, but I don't see it. Reacher is far too deep a thinker to be slotted into the action only type stories. I like Reacher because he's a thinker, not just because he's got a mean headbutt or cigarette punch.
Harlan Coben is one of my must reads. I came on to Harlan's books with Tell No One, and i haven't looked back.
Jack Kerley's books about Carson Ryder and his psychopathic brother, Jeremy, are some of the most enjoyable books I've ever picked up, and I owe a lot to Jack's books. It might not show in my writing, but it's there.
Michael Marshall and his Straw Men and associated books were excellent, and I'm gutted that there might not be any more. I found the entire conspiracy theory understory fascinating.
Robert Crais is a fabulous writer. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are characters I absolutely love. I recently read The Watchman and thought, damn, I'm sure I was going to write that book. Maybe this points to how much Robert's writing has influenced me.
Last on my list (and there are so many others I could have added) is John Connolly's Charlie Parker books. Parker, Angel and Louise are fascinating. The underlying supernatural elements in the books hark back to my love of Howard and Lovecraft and Poe. Coupled with the dark and moody action in John's tales, these are my ideal read.

Films have also influenced me.
They are many and varied, and I have a cinematic eye when I'm writing and often see the scenes in my head as I'm writing them. You are as likely to come across a scene influenced by It's A Wonderful Life as you are Death Wish or The Shogun Assassin.

I also have many influences from life that I draw on, and I come from a family who have an oral storytelling history, so I've probably been influenced by that as well.

All in all, my influences are very varied. They're about good versus evil, with many shades of grey in between. I am the sum of all my yesteryears. I write, therefore I...uh, write.


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