Do you ever wonder who writers read? I do! I also wonder things what writers influenced other writers and how. So this prompted a few questions I love to ask writers! Of course, I picked some faves, Will Graham, Melissa Ohnoutka, Rusty Rhoad. Thought I’d share this with you!
Who are some writers that you really admire? Why?
WILLIAM: The mainstays for me: Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John D. MacDonald, Ian Fleming. While radically different writers, their individual style have influenced generations of writers and continue to do so today.
RUSTY: “Admire” is a tough word to pin down. In 2013 I read both The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises. Those books are stunningly brilliant.
But one can only admire Hemmingway from a distance. I could never aspire to write like him, because he is a genius and I’m simply not. Even on my best days (although on my best I days I can pretend that I am).
Over the years dozens of authors have made it to my ‘A List.’ That means I actively pursue and read every word they’ve written. John D. MacDonald and Ian Fleming, ‘mainstays’ of Will, were both on my ‘A List.’ I liked John D. MacDonald so well that I named my firstborn Travis after Travis McGee, his best character.
But for the purposes of this article, I’m going to define ‘admire’ as ‘admire a writer as a personal role model.’ And for me, the three biggies are Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, and Christopher Moore. They helped me define my writing voice.
MELISSA: The first book I read that really made an impact on me was "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier. If I had to pinpoint what sparked my interst in writing, it would be this book. I have to admit the classics were not on my list of favorites growing up, and sadly I haven't read any books by the author's listed by William or Rusty above. Although, I've seen the movies for some of them. :)
Author's I enjoy today are John Grisham, Harlan Coben, and Lisa Jackson for my thriller/mystery fix and Janet Evanovich, Kristan Higgins and Jane Porter for the emotional connections. I love the way they draw me into a storyline to the point I can forget all the chaos around me.
RUSTY: Rebecca was my father’s favorite book ever written. Small world, no?
Have your favorites changed over the years? What brought that about?
WILLIAM: Andrew Vachss, for obvious reasons. He was the first author to describe in detail a world that should not exist, and has single-handedly garnered tremendous support for his battles. Robert Crais and James Lee Burke are worthy successors to John D. MacDonald, the author who set the standard for intriguing first person mysteries. Robert B. Parker, again, for obvious reasons... :)
RUSTY: In high school, I considered Steinbeck the greatest 20th century author. He was more accessible, and appealed to my teenage angst more than, say, Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby has gotten a whole lot better since I read it in the 60’s).
I was introduced to Vonnegut in 1969 when Cat’s Cradle was assigned in my college freshman English course. Thus began a life-long love of his novels. I read Timequake in 2005, which Vonnegut called in the Prologue “my last book.” Two years later he was dead.
Robbins and Moore replaced other writers as role models as I recognized what I could do relatively well (offbeat humor) and what I couldn’t do at all (serious literary fiction) as a writer.
MELISSA: I'm always adding new authors to my list.
If you could write like any one author, which one would that be? If it’s not the same ones you listed above, why this one?
WILLIAM: I am still a passionate fan of the 'locked room/impossible crime' kind of books, and have tried more than once to make one work out. I guess it would be "Written by Agatha Queen Doyle" if it ever comes together... :)
RUSTY: J. K. Rowling, maybe? She’s sold 400,000,000 books in 16 years and earned an estimated $800,000,000 in royalties. I don’t really write for the money, but it’d be kind of fun to get a 7 figure royalty check once in your life.
MELISSA: Every author has their own distinct voice, so I'd have to say I don't want to "write" like any specific author. What I do hope to achieve is to grow and improve my own voice, learning to have the discipline, confidence and determination of all those listed above.
What do you think I should ask them about next? I’m thinking of things like:
What type of software do you use for writing? Do you use any at all?
What type of software do you use for plotting? I’ve heard so many different ideas that I wonder what other writers use. I’m curious, but I also have a selfish reason for asking this. I’m always trying to think of ways to streamline or improve my process. Maybe next week we can cover that topic!
Oh, and another topic comes to mind! Rusty has another book coming out. We should find out about it. We should also ask William and Melissa if they have any works debuting soon!
Hmm. I’ll have to do those articles under my Houston Books Examiner Title. And now I see I have three categories for subscribers. Books, Writing, Restaurants. So does that mean if someone subscribes to my Books articles they wouldn’t get my Writing articles? Wait… what? Writers read. That doesn’t seem quite right. Heck I don’t even know who is subscribed to what, so I don’t even know which subscriber to ask. Okay, so if you have an answer to that, feel free to email or message me!