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  1. seira

    seira Member

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    What book influenced you as a writer?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by seira, Mar 27, 2019.

    Or what book did you especially love reading at some point that made you more aware of your desired reading/writing habits?

    I hear people talk about this a lot and I would say mine was probably war of the worlds. It gave me a respect for our planet.
     
  2. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    My Grandfather has a Library full of old books. I still remember the smell of that old room. The smell of old books and peppermint oil.

    When I was thirteen he gave me “Lolita” to read. He said people mistakenly think that this book should only be read by adults – but they just overthink the content. He said but your young enough to not overthink it and not miss the mastery of the English Language. Then he said, don't let your mother catch you reading it.

    He was right. I mean I understood it on a level but because of how it was written with an unreliable narrator dressing his perverted ways with a romantic glow, I didn't concentrate on how creepy it was and that it was child abuse, so I was able to just soak up the language. The language was so beautiful and hypnotic, especially from someone whose native language wasn't English (maybe someone re-wrote it for him, I don't know) I remember reading it and reading it. And the older I got the more I began to see how much I liked a darker character with a negative arc. Humans are so complex and I felt so many writer portrayed them as black and white. I didn't agree with his actions but I liked treading the line with a character that was immoral.

    Jurassic Park was another one. It opened my eyes to the repercussions of mistakes more than anything else. I realized that having good intentions didn't mean things couldn't go horribly wrong. It made me realize that I didn't have to have a dislikable character for them to be the cause of bad things happening. Hammond was more driven by greed but some of the biggest mistakes in our history have been made with the best of intentions. So I liked that book.
     
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  3. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    Norstrillia, by Cordwainer Smith.

    Who saw that coming ? ;)
     
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  4. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Me. I know everything you're going to say before you know I know that you know.
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I remember a great many books from my school library - I don't remember any of their titles or authors, but I do remember the stories and the feelings they gave me. I remember some of their covers. I went from reading solely animal books to fantasy to crime and in between all that I'd pick up romances and drama type books. It was really when I moved out of the school library that my reading suddenly became so much more narrow, so much duller.

    I've always written in one way or another. When I was a kid, I'd write in speech bubbles next to the people in my drawings. Then I started rewriting stories I read. I drew fanfiction Doraemon comics. I found a children's play in the library and copied its format and wrote my own plays. I started writing poetry as soon as I learnt about rhymes at the age of 9 - in English, before I could speak English. Language didn't matter to me. I just loved to write. Creative writing homework even back in Hong Kong was my favourite and always the first piece I completed, and I always, always went over the word limit.

    So I don't know that it was books that got me into writing.

    But more than the books, I think I have my librarian to thank. He recommended me so many good books.
     
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  6. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    I have read lots of books, but the three that really make me think about writing are:
    Use of Weapons, a book that goes forward and back in time in alternating chapters to meet at the end, has a devastating surprise ending and is a document about a man's life told mainly by his actions, never his thoughts. The structure of the book blows my mind, and the writing is wonderful.

    The next is Cryptonomicon, which brilliantly destroys the idea of the info dump. Few fiction books will leave you better informed while being thrilling and funny.

    Finally, The Peripheral, which tells a complex SF story without explicitly explaining much of anything as it goes along. You have to concentrate as a reader and solve for the missing exposition. And it is a time travel story that doesn't have any time travel. Brilliant.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
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  7. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    Like most, my love of writing developed from my love of reading. Many great story-tellers influenced me, but timing the timing of WHEN in our life we read something can be key to how it influences us. I read Ken Kesey’s “Sometimes A Great Notion” at the age of nineteen and, for the first time, began understanding the sheer power of language. (Kesey might be best known for “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Next,” but this was his masterpiece!). Unfortunately, due to his infamous foray into drugs with the “merry pranksters,” Kesey’s writing career did not end well.
     
  8. Colactix

    Colactix Member

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    The Mortal Engines series by Phillip Reeve when I was about 10.

    Then, Murakami with Kafka on the Shore when I was about 18.

    Sums it up, really.
     
  9. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    What I find interesting about this topic, is that I don't believe many of my all-time favorite books have been significantly influential on my writing, nor will they likely be in the future. While I absolutely treasure those stories, I don't aspire to create anything like them. For example, Fahrenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange, and The Catcher in the Rye, are all on my top ten book list. But they aren't the type of stories, or even written with the general prose or voice, that I dream up. My fiction is more influenced by R.A. Salvatore than Anthony Burgess.

    If I had to pick one book to be the leading influencer of my writing, I'd go with The Call of the Wild. It's a perfect adventure story as far as I'm concerned. I love its hero, conflict, pacing, emotional stakes, suspense, description, and conclusion - I wouldn't change a word of it. I like to reread it every so often so that I can draw on it whenever I need to.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
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  10. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    Doc Smith's Lensmen series had a massive impact on me. It was the de facto origin for modern Space Operas, and you can see the influence in things like Star Wars, which I'm also a huge fan of, and even things like Aquaman. Concepts he put out like the traditional "Space Knight" idea, which evolved into stuff like Jedi for example, the vast fleets in pitched battles, antimatter WMDs that blow up stars, you get the real impression that this is a vast, galaxy-spanning empire and you can understand the concept of scale.

    The first science fiction I ever really read, and what really got me into the genre, however was Bolo Rising which also had a huge influence on me. That was also the first time I realy grasped the idea of thinking machines and how they're kinda human too. That an AI can have a soul and emotions and be like us, even if they are just ones and zeroes in a computer. It's hard to describe without giving away spoilers but you read Bolo Rising and you really feel for the titular Bolo, a mile-long mobile fortress with antimatter beams, and you get just how much he really cares about his human friends and allies. You understand he's a real person--even though he's an AI he's less of an asshole than some human characters.
     
  11. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Three books that inspired me with my writing are in order - My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and Skin by Kathe Koja. The first I read when I was about fourteen and working on my first novel. I was blown away by the weirdness and dreamlike quality and freed my own weirdness for my own writing. Lolita, I possibly read twice - the first time I don't think it impacted me as well and I kind of ignored it, but in my twenties it seemed to answer the question - what is wrong with my writing. I tend to write a very thin, flavorless first draft and Nabokov's quite blatant style let me know what I was missing - a style. I was working on two books at the time and one I mistakenly tried to imitate Nabokov's style and ruined one of the drafts. For a while I assumed I couldn't do lush prose without sounding hammy. I joined this site began to produce short stories and found my style. About the same time I found Kathe Koja's Skin and this book kinda validated what I needed to face - style isn't about imitation it's about cutting the path yourself - finding your own way of saying things.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Tough. Various books inspired me at different times for different reasons:

    Peake's Gormenghast books.
    Lolita
    Moby Dick

    Works by Joseph Conrad
    The Brothers Karamazov

    In genre, growing up: Lovecraft, Lieber, Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Heinlein, Tolkein, Lewis, Asimov, Sheckley, C.L. Moore, Zelazny, PK Dick, Moorcock...

    All books that made me want to write. For more contemporary works:

    Catilin R. Kiernan
    Lee Child
    Steven Brust
    Angela Carter
    Michael Connelly

    OK, well, yes, those are almost all authors and not books. It's almost impossible for me to single out just the books, and as soon as I hit "post reply" I'll think of half a dozen I've left off.
     
  13. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    First, I suppose, was Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories and The Jungle Book, before I could even read. My dad read them to me. Kipling taught me that language itself can be beautiful and worth reading for its own sake, and also that the exotic settings are endlessly fascinating.

    Then Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, when I was about nine years old. This taught me that prose fiction could blow my mind, and that my mind was there to be blown.

    Then the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. Mind blown again, only this time when I was an adult. If I could ever do with language what Jeffers does in "Night" or "Continent's End" or "Hurt Hawks" or the prelude to "The Women At Point Sur" I would be ecstatic.
     
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  14. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    My first was HG Wells Outline of History. I recently gave a copy to a friend and she said she wouldn't read it because he was a socialist. I thought if I let politics influence my entertainment I would never see a movie and most of my music would come from the forties. Anyways I went on from there to Michener, The Source, and Clavell, Shogun.
     
  15. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Active Member

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    Asimov and Tolkien,
    As a young person I spent a long time 'in the system', several months (divided into week long sessions) 'in the block' - meaning solitary confinement in the punishment block.
    Perversely, I confess I mostly loved it. being on my own with nothing to do but read. How much better could it get?
    I read avidly, the cell was bare brick with a standard issue single barred window, the table was bolted to the floor and the mattress and bedding had to be put outside the cell every morning.
    Reading was encouraged, 'quite odd that was, considering everything, but it was strongly encouraged. I could take my pick from the library trolley which appeared at the cell door every few days.
    I always regretted that the books weren't longer, I'd usually read them all twice by the time the trolley reappeared.
    Middle earth and extra terrestrial stuff has a greatly heightened appeal from within a 12 foot square brick box.
    I now write in the same genres that I read then.
    I started having serious thoughts about starting writing very quickly after starting a more conventional lifestyle. It just took a while to get it moving.
    I regard it as quite quirky these days, as do my well adjusted and not at all criminal kids, that I would regularly go for an entire week and the only thing I was allowed to say was "AO2581 P*******, Sir". this had to be shouted. Always. And no one was ever loud enough or quick enough with it. One time I actually got into further trouble for accidentally saying 'thank you' for something.
    Such fun, 'don't think the social workers would like it any more though.
     
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  16. paperbackwriter

    paperbackwriter Banned Contributor

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    Genesis
    Exodus
    Job
    Isaiah
    Jeremiah
    Matthew
    John
    Corinthians
    Romans
    Acts
     
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  17. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    I take it you don't write page-turners? :bigwink:
     
  18. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    It's hard to say for sure, but Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker are the two books I turn to the most for inspiration.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
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  19. paperbackwriter

    paperbackwriter Banned Contributor

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    Considering books like Moby Dick were based on the Bible, I feel in privileged company. :)
     
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  20. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Moby Dick was most definitely not based on the Bible.

    Herman Melville's classic was inspired by the harrowing, true life adventure of the whaling ship Essex. In fact the real story is far more interesting than that overwrought "classic" we're forced to read in high school.
     
  21. paperbackwriter

    paperbackwriter Banned Contributor

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    wrong
     
  22. paperbackwriter

    paperbackwriter Banned Contributor

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    sorry just winding you up. i was waiting for a proud american to set me straight. "based" is of course the wrong word. But the number of Biblical allusions is huge. Also i think the motif "self reliance" that fails is evident. the sinful nature of ahab.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
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  23. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Lot's of things are based on things vaguely Biblical. Christianity is pretty much what defines the Western world. But I wouldn't say much of the Bible's storylines make it outside the book.
     
  24. paperbackwriter

    paperbackwriter Banned Contributor

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    Indirectly you might be surprised re story lines. im sure someone has done a thesis on it. Now a great book like Brothers Karamazov has direct influence of Biblical and Christian themes. Jobs suffering comes to mind.
     
  25. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    I could even ask a minister that likes fiction.
     

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