I’m sitting here this morning pondering what to write in this week’s blog and my eyes drift to the book case near my writing table. There’s over 120 novels on the shelves, a fraction of what I’ve owned and read over the years. Ask my wife.
My motto might well be: so many books, so little time.
So many story worlds explored: from outer space to early America, from contemporary suspense and mystery to ancient Ireland, from murders in London to magical lands of fantasy and imagination, from heart-pounding thrillers to experiencing the first century church.
I have sixteen of Elizabeth George’s mystery novels. Why? Because she has created fascinating characters like to-the-manor-born Detective Lord Thomas Lynley and his partner, opposite-end-of-the-class structure, Sergeant Barbara Havers. How these two work together and how they clash make for stories that keep me reading. Her secondary characters, her villains, her minor characters are all as complex, as well rounded, and as believable as Lynley and Havers.
Miss George brings her settings alive. Her settings truly become characters and you see the influence they have on motivating the human characters to make the choices they do. From private schools to country estates to London slums, even cricket fields, she provides detailed environments that place me right there in the story. I feel the icy wind coming off the North Sea. I smell the aromas of the city and the farms, the slums and the musty halls of academia.
Every novel brings new words and new ways of arranging words that challenge me to look at my craft. Not to copy her but to study and learn to improve how I build characters, develop plot, master dialogue, and develop my own voice.
How about you? Who are your favorite authors? How have they influenced you?
I consider myself mostly a nonfiction writer, though I do both, so my favorite writer in that regard is Phil Yancey. That kind of ability to combine beautiful language, humor, spiritual depth, and transparency is something I strive for. So hard to do it all!
I haven’t read Elizabeth George, but her books sound like the kind I enjoy. I’ll have to get one (or two or three!)
Like you, I keep on my shelves authors who do things well. I have all of Eugenia Price’s novels. Not only do I love her character, I love how she interweaves history into her stories. I also love Frances Parkinson Keyes. She creates characters that live and breathe! They are so real–the kind I’d like to write!
Thoughtful post, Henry.
C.S. Lewis always makes the top of my list. His ability to weave, almost hide, deep complex truths in a simple story always moved me.
On the lighter side, I like Dean Koontz because of his creepy villains.
Lewis is one of my favorites as well. I’ll be touching on him later in the series.
I’ll have to check out Price and Keyes. Sounds like I can learn a lot from them.
It is hard to get all those qualities to come together in our writing but we need to keep striving. I like Yancey and also Max Lucado.
I’ve had some classes with Elizabeth George with Maui Writers. She is compulsive about outlining. We use to kid her about her outline being so detailed, she needed to outline her outline. Actually, to say she is compulsive is an understatement.
Some of my favorite authors are Terry Brooks, Dean Koontz, Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Athol Dickson and Tessa Afshar. Compared to the others, Athol and Tessa are newcomers but well worth the read.
I am looking forward to someday taking classes with her. She and I share a compulsion about outlining. I like your author selections. I haven’t read Tessa yet. I’ll keep my out for her.
Tessa writes historical fiction. Pearl in the Sand was her first. Her latest is Harvest of Rubies. As I said, they are well worth the read. Have fun!
Today, I’d have to say Ray Bradbury, Suzanne Collins and Francis Chan. Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” is so inspiring, it changed my life.
I will check her out.
I’ve been a Ray Bradbury fan since high school which shows how long he’s been around. The Martian Chronicles hooked me on science-fiction.
A favorite author is George MacDonald, although I became familiar with his work through the edited versions by Michael Phillips. I enjoy the way he confronts the religious standard of the day with true religion, and rights the wrongs which have happened to his characters.
Thanks, Ruth. I’ve heard of George MacDonald but I haven’t read anything by him. I’ll have to put him on my list of authors to check out.
Wow. What a great list of authors. I can never narrow down my favorites, but this post and comments have given me several to add to my bedside table.
I like the comment about Elizabeth George needing outlines of her outlines. I can relate to that.