Its almost the end of the year and Im thinking of course- being an introspective, self-absorbed kind of person- of everything that happened to ME this year. The NY Book Expo; appearing at a big Borders store in front of eight people, most of whom were kids under the age of five who seemed very bored. Although I wonder how their parents got them to sit still? Krazy Glue? Writing my second Feltus book; writing an adult novel- meaning a literary, edgy book for grown-ups (not that other kind of adult novel!) Picking up a few more rejections in the UK and elsewhere across the sea. Oh yeah, and the birth of my wonderful daughter, the Lucy factor and the continued health of my son. I maybe should have put those last two first. So lots of wonderful things and a couple of times- like in NYC- I actually felt like a huge success.
Anyway not to bore you but suffice it to say, I feel very lucky! And, Im thinking this next year will be even better. More workshops, more school visits, more Feltus, and maybe Ill find an agent who loves me and a European publisher who does too. But if not, thats ok. Im writing. Its all I do for a living at this point so I can safely say that I am a writer and if you never see my tax return you can believe it. No need to go into messy details about my financial woes. This is what Ive always wanted. All I have to do is continue to produce, work hard, write better and live Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcause thats where inspiration comes from. And although Im not one for once-yearly resolutions preferring to make them all year round, I guess that would be my resolution. I resolve to keep writing.
So Ive also been thinking about the authors I admire and their books, those that have in sometimes convoluted ways inspired my own work, and I thought Id just list them here in case anyone is interested. Of course Narnia and The Hobbit are top of the list but of the rest quite a few are not even in the fantasy genre and some I read as an adult rather than as a child, and others Ive only discovered more recently like Nancy Farmers wonderful books and the His Dark Materials series; and of course it goes without saying that the Greek Myths, King Arthur, and Shakespeares plays ( which show how much fun you can have with language) were also influential.
So heres a partial list:
Georgette Heyers historical romances- my mother introduced me to these. Theyre sort of like Jane Austen but lighter. Definitely clever, humorous, well-researched and she has such a way with characters, plot and dialogue. Absolutely delightful and a great way to while away a rainy afternoon. Ive read them all over and over again and they will always be with me.
Dont be put off by the fact that they are often filed at the bookstore with the bodice rippers and may have lurid covers. These are literary books.
George MacDonald Frasers Flashman series. The best anti-hero Ive ever read. Bawdy, rollicking adventure rooted in historical fact. Brilliant, politically incorrect and Flashman is a cowardly, lecherous rogue who you cant help but like in spite of yourself. I wish some clever TV producer would turn the books into a mini-series without losing any of the nuances, irony and realism but I fear the material is too challenging. Flashman, although R Rated, is definitely an inspiration for Feltus.
Enid Blytons adventure and school stories. Sure theyre dated, and sort of sickly but she was prolific and she knew exactly what children liked. Parents and grown-ups barely exist in her world except for some caricatures of foolish and gullible teachers and a few villainous types, instead children are in control of their lives and their world is without limits. Living on an island; traveling as a stowaway to Africa; breaking a diamond-smuggling ring; becoming head-girl; winning the field hockey championship— all possible in Enid Blytons stories. When I was little I was so sure her girls boarding schools (Mallory Towers and St. Clares) were real I begged my mother to send me there. A huge influence much as I may blush to admit it.
Ditto although they are not fluff by any stretch of the imagination, E. Nesbits fantasies especially Five Children and It, The Story of the Amulet, and The Phoenix and the Carpet.
And in modern classic fantasy, Id have to include Susan Coopers arthurian The Dark is Rising series, Ursula K. Leguins sublime Earthsea books, George R.R. Martins epic A Song of Fire and Ice, and Barry Hugharts hilarious The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox which are set in ancient China, oh and also Jennifer Robersons gripping Chronicles of the Cheysuli. Anyone else want to spill their literary guts?