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?