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What book influenced you when you were young, and why?

When I was a young teen, about 14 or so, I read Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. The main character was a strong young female confident in her own skin. Growing up, my sisters and I were taught that confidence was nothing but arrogance, and my father made a point to ensure that our self-esteem was kept at a low (he believed he was teaching humility). However, when I read Blood and Chocolate, it changed my self-perspective. Secretly, I decided that I DID like myself after all, the same way that Vivian found confidence in her identity and appearance. I gained strength from this realization, and it has stuck with me my whole life.

What book shifted your perspective as a youth?

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I read so many books as a teen and I specifically remember arguing with teachers about my choice of reading material. One such book was a Henry Miller novel - I don't remember which one - I had it inside a text that the class was reading out loud and was of course discovered! Another was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I had made a reference to it in one of my poems written for a class whilst I was studying in the US. It had recently been published in the UK and I'd devoured it but it was banned in the States which at the time I did not know, so that caused quite a scandal! I also loved the essays of George Orwell, much more enlightening than the stories, I could feel the plight of the miners. That richness of description rubbed off definately! Then I was into horror & science fiction. The first complete adult fiction I read was 'Involution Ocean' by Bruce Sterling and I was transported! I loved visiting places hitherto undreamed of! 'The Magic Cottage' by James Herbert made me think that perhaps I could write too (if not as successfully!!) I was also advised to read 'Narciss and Goldmund' by Herman Hesse by my art history teacher when I was in my late teens. I was still searching for my niche in life and I think he thought it might help. It certainly set me a-wandering and brought me to realise quite a few life truths. There are so many books that I love for all kinds of reasons but, as you can see, there is no one pivotal tome!

I see! You did/do most certainly have a diverse, broad, well-rounded taste in genre and style. That is impressive, and I respect that you didn't allow discouragement from others hinder your reading choices. Thanks for your comment.

Thanks for the compliment! I have my dad to thank for this - he was a librarian (amongst other jobs) with a key to a magic treasure chest! (The local library!)

As a teenager I read Orwell's 1984. Scared me shitless. Lost count of the number of times I've read it since and I wrote my first dissertation on it...

That's so cute! Does he know that you feel/felt that way?


Naomi Rawle said:

Thanks for the compliment! I have my dad to thank for this - he was a librarian (amongst other jobs) with a key to a magic treasure chest! (The local library!)

Interesting. I recently watched some author panels, one of Veronica Roth and the other (I think...) of Suzanne Collins. They both said that 1984 was a significant mark in their writing life as a youngster. So, I got it from the library just now. Let's see what it's all about. :-)

Rob Coker said:

As a teenager I read Orwell's 1984. Scared me shitless. Lost count of the number of times I've read it since and I wrote my first dissertation on it...

As a late teen I read Charles de Lint's Moonheart. This wonderful book helped start me on the path of writing fiction. Reading the early works of urban fantasy was a revelation. Characters from a world much like our own dealing with creatures straight from fantasy and mythology just made me want to do that same.

In the early 90s I read a heap of James Herbert, Shaun Hutson and the compulsory Stephen King. Plus I watched plenty of Hammer Horror movies. I guess it was a massive combo of that lot and also my English teacher telling me to stop mucking about in class. He believed I was capable of more, and it snowballed from there. So off came my Jester hat—but only in English class—and after that, each story I wrote received top grades. Twenty years on and I'm getting paid as a storyteller. And I have those guys to thank.

For me Dracula was a big influence, mostly for atmosphere. It's definitely the definitive horror novel, if you ask me. I am also heavily influenced by cinema, particularly B movies. There's something inventive and surreal about them and I find that I like to put those qualities in my own work.

In Catholic elementary school, what we read was strictly monitored and so our choices were very limited to wholesome literature hand picked by the school librarian. It wasn't until I reached high school that I discovered the realm of literature available.

Early in my high school years, two books kept me up all night reading. The first was 1984 by George Orwell and the second "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. They both terrified me, but also taught me the impact writing can have. Those books weren't just stories, they taught me that well written books are time machines and portals. They fueled my reading and my writing addiction.

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