I found this great question floating around on the interwebs, so I’ll try my best to answer it.
“Who are the three authors who most inspire you or your writing?”
1. Philip K. Dick – I love his work. Author of 44 novels and 122 short stories, he was an incredibly prolific writer when he died at the young age of 53. He is best known for the novels and stories that would become the hit films Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and more. Beyond the sheer number of original stories he produced, he wrote about authoritarian governments, drug abuse, reality, parallel universes, androids, and the future in general, just to name a few common themes.
One reason I love his work is that he was able to tell a story quickly, without sacrificing detail. Most of his novels were around 220 pages in paperback, which in my opinion is perfect for a science fiction novel. By doing so, he was able to express more ideas, taking his readers to more worlds and more alternate realities. For the most part I strive to keep my novels around the same length for that reason. I have far too many ideas in my head to bloviate for 500 pages in each novel.
2. Kurt Vonnegut – Vonnegut was a master of satire and dark humor. Probably best known for his novel Slaughterhouse Five, about the fire-bombing of Dresden, I actually like some of his more obscure works even better. Novels like Deadeye Dick delve into the minutiae of how Hitler might not have come to power if not for his art teacher, who told him to quit and try something else. Vonnegut creates characters that interweave his novels regardless of the non-related plots. A character in Deadeye Dick might be a cousin of a character in Breakfast of Champions. Vonnegut tries to tie the world together in a way we can understand by trying to remind us that we’re all related in one way or another.
I am guilty of trying to emulate some of his style with regards to narration, which I really used heavily in my debut Science Fiction novel Memory Leak. Vonnegut was such a master of the English Language, that he could break rules for the sake of breaking them, flaunting the standard way of doing things just to prove a point. When people would try to correct him, I imagine him sitting back and laughing. His views on the hypocritical nature of society is something I believe more authors need to incorporate into their writing.
3. Ernest Hemingway – Like Dick, Hemingway kept most of his novels and stories short, which I appreciated because I felt I could spend more time analyzing his meaning rather than making it through a story. Call it ADHD… As an example, in The Sun Also Rises, one of my favorite books, Jake Barnes takes a woman for a ride in a taxi through Paris. If you were a casual reader, you might have thought it took forever to get to the destination because it was far away. In reality, if you mapped it out, Jake was directing the cabbie to take the longest route, which took them all around Paris, just so he could spend more time alone with her. I try to put ‘Easter Eggs’ like this into my writing for the reader who cares enough to find them. There are many more nuances to The Sun Also Rises that Hemingway doesn’t come right out and say. In a novel that’s only about 250 pages, there are a lot of subtle aspects to it.
I understand that Hemingway was misogynistic and hyper-masculine which puts some people off to him. What I respect is that he told things how they were according to his feelings. It’s a trait I try to portray in some of my characters. For instance, in my upcoming novel Symbiote, Detective Yuri Markov is a bit of a misogynist, has strongly held political views, and is about at secular as they come. These are not my views, they are the views of my character. I think any good novel has people with varying beliefs and value systems. Some of my readers might relate to him, while some might relate better to his partner, Detective Karen Hall, a tough female cop who often buts heads with him.
Who are your favorite authors who inspire you or your writing? Leave a comment in the space below or tweet me @TrevorSSchmidt