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Thursday, 26 April 2012

What and Who do You Admire Most as a Writer?

J.K. Rowling
Cover of J.K. Rowling

Most of us have heroes we look up to in one way or another. Sometimes it's simply the creative output we admire, sometimes it's the person rather than the work, and sometimes, just occasionally, it's both.
So, who do you look up to, whose work do you admire?
I'll start the ball rolling with my own listing.

I grew up long before the Harry Potter novels were written, let alone published, but I admire the story-telling, imagination and range of language used by J.K.Rowling in these adventure tales aimed at young people. I started out reading them to my daughter as she grew up and ended up reading the last three because I was hooked on the adventure. I also think JK is an admirable person; her struggle to get published under very difficult circumstances and her generosity, once she was established, both make her someone for me to admire.

The work of William Golding is something I've enjoyed since I was introduced to it with The Spire when I attended evening classes during 1983 to take my English Literature A Level (which I passed with a grade A, I'm pleased to say). Having discovered the multi-layered story and accessible literary elements in The Spire, I went on to read the rest of his canon, finding I enjoyed the lot and learning a great deal about writing in the process. I particularly like The Pyramid, one of his works that's rarely mentioned.

Several of William  Horwood's books have impressed me. I enjoyed the pure fun and adventure of Duncton Wood and it's following episodes. But it was The Stonor Eagles that most resonated with me. I felt real empathy with the sculptor who is the human protagonist in this novel. The book details the struggles of Sea Eagles in and around the Norwegian coast and the Scottish Islands, and contrasts their lives with the problems faced by the artist commissioned to produce a sculpture of them to commemorate their re-introduction to the UK. A book that was definitely a powerful influence on my writing. The author's ability to enter the 'minds' of his flying characters as effectively as he does the humans in the story is most impressive.

Graham Greene's work has been influential in my reading and writing, as has that of Neville Shute. I've also enjoyed the work of Louis de Bernier. And, for reasons I don't fully understand, I have a particular soft spot for Richards Adams' Shardik and, particularly, Maia.

There are, of course, hundreds of other writers who have entertained and educated me during a life of reading. Attached to this blog is a list of some of the books I've yet to read. You'll find them on the tab, My To Read List' above. If you're interested in other books I've read and enjoyed, or otherwise, you'll also find a list of those I can actually remember on Goodreads, an excellent site where readers can exchange information about their reading experiences. There, you'll find a list of the 817 titles I've so far recalled, along with reviews of 89 of the books. I estimate I've probably read in excess of 3,000 books but so many are from the past and no longer held on my shelves (I was forced to abandon a large number of my books when I divorced my first wife, unfortunately) that I can't recall them now. All, however, have played their part in developing my language skills, facility with the written word, and my knowledge of the human story.

So, there's an idea of the work and writers I admire. Perhaps you'll share some of your own influences here?
Thank you for reading this.

Silly question to amuse: Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
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