Authors who have influenced me.

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I begin by using words from Bilbo Baggins‘ speech:

I haven’t read half of what I should have read and half of what I have read I shouldn’t have read in the first place

I know he didn’t quite say that but I hope you get the picture. Now, without further ado, here’s my list of fifteen authors who have influenced me in some way or the other.

FULL DISCLAIMER: All author names & book names are Amazon Affiliate links. :)

1. Douglas Adams & P. G. Wodehouse

No, I am not cheating. They both occupy the top slot on my list. Even to this day, I find myself instinctively reaching for a book by one of them whenever I feel the need for inspiration and a laugh. Both turned every nuance of standard novel writing – plot, characterization, narrative – everything on its head. The protagonist was supposed to be brave & courageous, not timid and cowardly. Obstacles were supposed to be overcome by effort, not by sheer chance. Villians were supposed to be defeated not loophole-d – if that’s even a word. Humor was supposed to be planted, not derived.

And yet, we read their classics and wonder – well, we wonder whatever it is that we wonder about. :)

3. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Enid Blyton

Again, both of them rank high on my list for getting me hooked on to the mystery genre. The first ‘novel’ I read as a kid was a Famous Five story – as, I assume, is the case with most of you born before the nineties. That’s when J. K. Rowling took over. But, more about her later. I still refer to “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” or “The Famous Five Series,” “The Secret Seven Series” whenever I feel the need for inspiration while writing a mystery story. ;)

5. J. K. Rowling & J. R. R. Tolkien

I seem to be working in pairs – maybe that’s my Gemini nature in action. Anyway, over the last few tags I’ve realized that although most of us curse J. K. Rowling for writing mainstream fiction for YA, we also respect her for various other ‘accomplishments’ such as getting children back into the habit of reading, blah, blah, blah. I’d like to pitch in my 2 cents worth – she’s a brilliant writer who knows her shit. Harry Potter is one of the most tightly constructed series in terms of plot, characterization and narrative. I dare you to find me an inconsistency in any of the books. She knows her Chekhov’s Guns from her Red herrings.

As for J.R.R. Tolkien, the introduction to this post should say it all. And boy, does the man have an imagination or what?! Not only did he construct an entire civilization out of nothing, but he also spawned off an entire fantasy genre of mystical creatures – not to mention the Elvish language he “built” now even has a Linguistic Fellowhip offering!

7. Isaac Asimov

When it comes to serious Science Fiction narratives – this man has no parallels. Considering the sheer amount of work he has done in the Sci-fi genre, it would be a surprise if the sci-fi fan in you hasn’t come across any of his work. Look at this list of short stories by Isaac Asimov Heck, if I could write one-tenth of the number of stories he has written in his lifetime, I would consider myself successful. I haven’t even taken into account the number of books written by him. Take a look at this: A Catalogue of Isaac Asimov’s Books

8. Jeffrey Archer / Robert Ludlum / Sidney Sheldon / Frederick Forsyth / Dan Brown

No, I did not jump from twos to fives. You could pick anyone from the pentad and I’d say the same thing: They opened my eyes to the fact that imagination, when applied to the right points of space-time can yield a plot that is easier to identify with. They taught me that good mainstream fiction does not have to be science fiction, history or fantasy – it can also be contemporary. It is because of them and their stories that I found it easier to outline characters for my stories.

9. Lewis Carroll

This list keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, doesn’t it? Well, the first time I read “Alice in Wonderland,” I felt that I was not myself for I could not understand why a raven was like a writing desk. I knew that everything had a moral and that I just had to find it but try as I might I couldn’t. I tried to begin at the beginning and go on till I came to the end – where I could stop. I thought I should understand it better if I had it written in a book: but I couldn’t quite follow as he said it.

Finally I relented and proclaimed all of it as uncommon nonsense. :)

PS: I believe this page will help you, in case you didn’t understand the “uncommon nonsense” written above. Wouldn’t it be nice if something made sense for a change? :)

10. William “The Bard of Avon” Shakespeare

I will punch you in the nose if you tell me you haven’t read of / don’t know about any of Shakespeare’s works – once you come out from the rock you have been living under, that is. I once bought a very old copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare at the library clearance sale for a throwaway price? I gave it to one of my friends during college and forgot to take it back! Woe is me! :(

And now comes the moment where I shamefully admit to the rest of the world that I have never yet read any of Agatha Christie‘s books – I don’t know Miss Marple‘s quirks and I can’t speak in a Hercule Poirot accent. Nor can I quote from L. Frank Baum‘s “The Wonderful Wizard or Oz” The mysteries of Franz Kafka remain kafkaesquely unexplored and the subtleties of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Andre Chekhov are often lost on me. I cannot question the philosophies of Jean-Paul Sartre or his wonderfully intelligent companion, the polyamorous Simone De Beauvoir. Somerset Maugham, Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw may be men of many words but I remain oblivious to them. I want to have the Dickens scared out me some day and I strongly believe that some day I and Mark – the ‘Twain shall meet!

Like I said, I haven’t read half as much as I shold have and half of what I have read I shouldn’t have read at all!

Your turn. If you’re reading this consider yourself tagged. Here’re the instructions:

  • Don’t take too long to think about it.
  • Fifteen authors (poets included) who have influenced you and will always stick with you.
  • List the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes, and they don’t have to be listed in order of relevance to you.
  • It would be lovely if you could tag at least 15 friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends chose.

(If you are reading this on Facebook, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste the rules in a new note, list your 15 picks, and tag your friends.)

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