Thursday, March 5, 2009

The 25 Writers Meme Part I

Like Dawn at Weldable Cookies who tagged me with this, I don't always take to memes right away, if at all. I've been doing quite a few lately though, so what's the harm in one more? Pretty simple - list 25 authors that have influenced my writing. I'm not sure I have that many influences lately outside The Naval Institute Guide to Writing. But I tried. I don't know if I see all of the below in my writing, but they all have/had a profound effect on me. Like my last "double digit" meme that required thinking, I'm publishing this one piece meal. Half today, half later...

1. H. P. Lovecraft - Duh. Nobody before or since has mastered the combining of science fiction and horror. I think the mythos he created is not only vastly under-appreciated, but also overdone in the silliest way. And many of us who appreciate it also overdo it...we all have. Hey, lots of people like to say "Cthulhu" and snicker like Beavis and Butthead.

2. J. R. R. Tolkein - The detail with which he created Middle Earth, combined with the eloquent manner in which he drew me into it. Very, very few could ever do that. He spoiled every other fantasy author for me. I could not get past 50 pages of any of them after I'd finished LoTR.

3. Patrick O'Brian - What Lovecraft and Tolkien are to fantasy and horror, O'Brian is to historical fiction, especially the great age of fighting sail. Forget the movie - though it is a reasonable representation of life in Nelson's navy - Master and Commander the book is such a phenomenal piece of literature. Instead of creating a world, he meticulously re-creates the world of two centuries ago, and goes to extreme lengths to preserve the actual history itself - if he puts Captain Aubrey in a particular event, he does so only when there is a logical avenue (i.e. he doesn't replace a Lieutenant with a Captain) and does not change the outcome (if the good guys lose, they lose); I've had arguments with friends who favor C. S. Forester's Hornblower to "Lucky Jack" Aubrey, but I prefer the historic accuracy and detail over the swashbuckling.

4. Michael Moorcock - Okay, I lied when I said Tolkien spoiled other fantasy authors for me. The Elric Saga showed me that fantasy can have a gritty, gut-wrenching anti-hero and still be damned good reading. It also turned me on to The Chronicles of Corum, a tale rife with mutilation, loss, slaughter and revenge. Oh yeah - and if you ever listen to Veteran of the Psychic Wars by Blue Oyster Cult, you have Moorcock to thank.

5. Denny Aaberg - If you aren't into surfing, surf history and the Malibu scene, you have no idea who he is. Denny Aaberg wrote two short stories about a 60's-era hot-dog surfer named "No Pants Mance" that are just brilliant. They embody the spirit of surfing to me. Maybe you've seen the movie Big Wednesday, directed by John Milius of all people. It's based upon the characters from these stories.

6. Stephen King - The second horror author on my literary trek to H. P. Lovecraft. He also cites Howie as a big time influence. His meshing of visceral, soul-shaking horror had a huge impact on me. His greatest work was done in a time when I was growing up and in the phase where I was just beginning the transition from boyhood to manhood. Everything takes on a deeper meaning then. Oh, and he's a Red Sox fan. So there.

7. Edgar Allen Poe - As with many people, he was my first literary introduction into the macabre and the dark side of human nature. The Telltale Heart and The Cask of Amantillado being early favorites. Though I think the latter would have been better if the main character had said "biatch" after "Nemo me impune lacessit" and "motherfucker" after "In pace requiascat!"

8. Earnest Hemingway - The courage and fortitude of the "Hemingway Hero" through pain and suffering, triumphing only to lose everything - as demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms - love it or hate it, it's powerful.

9. George Orwell - Yeah the books about piggies and the government running everything are really great, but I also admire his persistent quest for clear, and concise written communication that relies on the active voice. If more people would take this on board, the average yokel's writing wouldn't be so doubleplusungood.

10. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter. I swore I'd shoot myself before I read this again or allowed myself to write anything that even vaguely resembled it.

11. William Gibson - Pioneer of the cyberpunk and steampunk fiction genres. Think the movie Johnny Mnemonic sucks? It does. But the short story is pretty awesome.

12. Craig Stecyk - journalist who in the 1970's first exposed the whole "Dogtown" skate scene in Venice CA in a series of articles for Skateboarder. Written many times about the surfing / skateboarding scene and lifestyle, always with an incredible edge. From in your face, "Fuck you, we rule and we know it" reporting to breathtaking "man vs. ocean" short stories. Great stuff.

Uh, okay, that's half...roughly. And I'm actually going to tag people this time because I think this is a cool meme and a good mental exercise. So I'll tag half the people now and half later.

Randal at L'ennui melodieux - it's about time I tagged you back, and you're a damned good writer, so I wanna' know!

Dr. Momentum at Aces Full of Links - you may have read more than any person I know. I hope you take this one up.


Randal Graves said...

Oh man, you bastard, thanks for this one. Gonna have to use my noggin on this.

Overdone Lovecraft? No one I know has ever done that. I loved the Master and Commander flick and dig that time period, so why haven't I read any of O'Brian's stuff?

Surf's up!

MRMacrum said...

I hated Hawthorne also. The Scarlet Letter was bad enough in school , but I got my only failing grade that year when my report on "The Great Carbuncle" failed to meet with teach's idea of what was correct. Okay so I missed the whole symbolism of what a carbuncle was. So sue me.