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Nightjar
  • Writer's picturePaul Jameson

Influential Books On Me (Part 1): As a Younger Child

I recently participated in a Threads thing where you were challenged to name twenty books that you'd read that had greatly influenced you - without commenting why or how. At first I didn't think much of it, but as I progressed I realised it was really interesting - possibly more so personally - to think of these authors and works.

These authors and works, Have they influenced me as an author?

So I figured, as a blog, I'd consider them in more detail, looking at how and why they'd influenced me. Perhaps they do influence my writing without me ever having been aware. We will see. But rather than looking at one book at a time, I'll try to group them as of a kind, read either by my age, perhaps the genre into which they fall, or a particular stage in my life. So I'm going to start as a child, not yet a teen and before the age of 10, and there were indeed quite a few works - as you'd expect - that influenced me; six in all, at this tender age.



So what were these six books and how did they influence me?

The first book is 'Winnie-The-Pooh' by A.A. Milne. As a young child this book was read to me, and indeed I used it to learn to read. If anyone ever asks me about my favourite books, this is usually top of the list - or thereabouts - with Lord of the Rings. I think it gifted me a love of nature, of bees and clouds, bears, piglets, and a sense of the ridiculous impossible you can achieve with imaginary friends. Nature certainly features strongly in all my novels, and it's still something I find magical. It also taught me to play with humour, sometimes quite dark, in every scenario, find interest in the most simple of things, and play with form and language, and I feel I do all three of these things in my writing; indeed, one of my favourite parts of 'Nightjar' is the description of the magic that is a compass - at once both childlike and simple, yet magical and mysterious.


The second book I chose was 'William the Conqueror' in the Ladybird series of historical books for children. Really, it was the whole series that I loved. Richard the Lionheart, Robert the Bruce, Florence Nightingale, and Marie Curie et al. Every book depicted real events that read (sometimes) like fantasy to a young child, and the illustrations brought different ages to life. I'm not sure they influenced my writing, but they certainly instilled in me a love of history - a topic I went on to study at University. I find the cycle of history fascinating, and although I'm not an author of historical fiction, I certainly pull on history - in the landscape and society - as an inspiration whilst writing.


'The Bible for Children' and 'Aesop's Fables' were read to me at bedtime as a child (I was dragged up in a religious household) and these books gave me a love of short stories and allegory - I didn't believe the bible stories as real, but saw them as extensions of Aesop's work, a moral compass of my own making, and (in the case of the illustrations of the Bible) my first real encounter with horror. Honestly, the depiction of John's head being served up on a platter is...

Quite horrifying... Nightmare inducing!

And I do write very dark stories.

So yes, they did influence me.


The final two books I read as a youngster - that had an influence on me, were 'The Water Babies' by Charles Kingsley, and 'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stephenson. Neither of these books - I feel - influence my work as an author. Rather I read them as an older child - about the age of seven. We had just moved to South Africa in 1976, and I had very few books to choose from. These were on a shelf in a flat we stayed in. I read them both many, many times over, and I think they just gave me a love of reading, of classic literature, and that love of adventure and escapism.


So there we go. The books that influenced me as a very young child, still actually have a bearing on my life, and in some cases, on the very style of writing. Who'd have thought. So what books influenced you as a young one, and do they still - perhaps unknowingly - have an influence on you or (if an author) on your writing? Give it some thought.

You might be surprised.


 

If there's a topic you'd like me to consider in a blog, a book you think I really need to read and review, or a TV Series you think I'd enjoy (and you'd like me to include it in my blog) drop me a line and let me know.



Finally.

If you do buy my books.

Thank you.

And let me know what you think.

Get in touch on Threads.

I'm always there; a writer, you see...


 

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