How Stories Connect Us
“Words inspire, pages turn and what we
read can influence and inspire us.
When our literary heroes strengthen and shape
our ideas something truly beautiful happens."
The inspiration behind this article came from wanting to appreciate how the authors I read and admire feel about regarding other author’s books and how they connected with these stories.
Trusting to luck and the old saying “if you don’t ask you can’t receive”, I produced a small assortment of what I thought to be interesting questions and contacted my favourite authors, not really expecting a reply but hoping none the same.
My ambition is to gather a variety of responses to make this a small and exciting series, providing the reader a little insight into which books helped encourage and fire the imagination of various authors.
Much to my delight the first wonderful author to reply was Chris F. Holm. Chris is the author of The Collector series, and various short fictions stories. His new book The Killing Kind will be coming soon from Mulholland Books.
Let the inquisition begin.
Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?
THE BIG SLEEP, by Raymond Chandler. It’s pure pulp poetry. I pluck it from the shelf and read a page at random when I need a dose of inspiration. A close second is my enormous hardback Oxford American Dictionary.
Which book or series do you read which makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?
Gosh. There are so many. A WRINKLE IN TIME, which taught me what books could do. DUNE, which I reread every couple of years, and take something different from every time. THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, which isn’t anybody’s favourite King novel, but was the first adult book I ever read. Anne McCaffrey’s DRAGONFLIGHT, which I found as a kid in a box of dusty paperbacks in a cupboard under our basement stairs, and read right there by flashlight, start to finish.
Which book or series do you read that makes your blood pump and your palms sweaty?
Justin Cronin’s THE PASSAGE stressed me out no small amount. More recently, Marcus Sakey’s BRILLIANCE saga’s damn near turned me into a doomsday prepper. Both writers have a knack of ratcheting up the tension until you can’t take it anymore, and then delivering a climax that’s somehow even worse than you feared.
Which book or series is your guilty pleasure? The one you read when no one else is watching? Maybe it’s the Twilight Saga with the dust jacket of War and Peace?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Calling something a guilty pleasure insults the reader and authors both. I never apologize for my own tastes. If I like something, I’ll sing its praises from the rooftops.
But since that answer’s far from juicy and you brought up TWILIGHT, I’ll happily confess I read the first book in the series; I’m always curious about novels that capture the zeitgeist. My conclusion was that it wasn’t for me, but I understand its appeal. The first 3/4 of the book was sappy wish-fulfilment teen romance. 1/4 of the book was a fairly effective thriller. I’m not surprised people who enjoy both felt compelled to gobble up the rest of the series.
Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters into e.g. Lilith? Would you want them to thrive and integrate or want them to burn it all down?
Maybe I have a twisted sense of humour, but I’d kind of like to drop Dumas or Lilith into the midpoint of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Perhaps they’d provide his characters catharsis of a different sort than that to which they’re accustomed. (I suppose that means I want them to thrive while burning it all down.)
More seriously, I’d very much like to see Sam go toe-to-toe with Donald Westlake’s Parker. It’d be one hell of a match-up, and I’m genuinely curious to find out if, in the end, he’d find a soul in there to snatch.
I am fantastically grateful to Chris for taking the time to reply and I can’t thank him enough.
Article and interview by Fergus McCartan.
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