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Nightjar
  • Writer's picturePaul Jameson

Influential Books On Me (Part 3): As an Anarchic Young Adult

So this is the third in an instalment on my blog inspired by a Threads thing where one was 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 whether or not...

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 for the third part of this instalment, I'm going to look at those books that influenced me as a young adult. By this I mean from around the age of 18 to 27, having left home and before having a family of my own, when a wild, reckless abandon possesses the soul, danger has no meaning, and debauchery and drink are a daily occurrence. In this period I chose five books, my middle period of adulthood being entirely devoid of inspirational reads as work, bands and family became my focus of attention.



So what were these five books and did they influence the wild, anarchic me and my future writings? 


The first book I'm starting off with is 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell. I read this at university and loved it. It kind of followed on from my reading of 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich', solidifying that already held belief that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely (as mentioned by Lord Acton). This allegorical telling is genius - in my humble opinion - and swings to the opposite side of the political spectrum to Shirer's work about Nazi Germany, showing the dangers of power and control.


Did it influence my writing?


Not in the sense of writing style or genre, but it certainly hardened my own belief in the potential corruption of power by those as hold it; themes that run through all my works. But I think rather it showed me that short literary pieces can be as powerful and revealing as the longest tomes penned by academics. It also taught me that allegory works, and can be a particularly powerful tool in the writer's ink-bitten arsenal. It perhaps - in reflection - unknowingly gave me a confidence needed to pen 'Life of Maggot', which is quite out there as an allegorical piece.

Weird Horror, And the Rules of Writing

The next three books I chose on Threads I'm going to group together. All three - 'The Wasp Factory' (Iain Banks), Last Exit to Brooklyn (Hubert Selby), and 'Times Arrow' (Martin Amis) - showed me the darkness that often took over my mind could be worked into literature. They introduced me to psychological horror, which I progressed naturally on to from fantasy, preferring the psychological element as (for me) it makes the physical horror harder hitting when it is eventually introduced. Again, like 'Animal Farm' I'm not sure any of these books influenced my writing style or voice, but rather showed me that anything goes (in terms of theme - no matter how horrific) and all writing rules - in terms of grammar, style, and form - are there to be broken.

If it works in the reader's mind, It works.

It was also after reading 'Times Arrow' in 1993, that I was inspired to start penning '76 and the Odd 93', so there is that, even though I wouldn't be ready to publish it until 2018 - twenty five years later. The novel by Amis that inspired me to begin work on my own horrific novel.


The final work I've chosen is quite different again in that it's a non-fiction book that follows on from the interest inspired in folklore as an older child, it being 'The Mythology of the British Isles' by Geoffrey Ashe. In truth it's a gateway book into folklore and myth, it being easy to read, simplified, and with lots of great pictures of folkloric places in Britain. It inspired me to potter around in my car and visit castles, old stone circles, or - whilst working as a steel rigger and climbing masts - dragging my poor climbing-buddies off on strange detours to some haunted place to stay rather than the party-hubs they desired.


Did it influence my writing?

No, I don't think so, though the folklore it explored certainly did.


So there you have it. Books I chose as influential to the young adult tended to show me rules might be broken, taboos explored, and anything goes in literature. So in terms of style, grammar, rhythm, pacing, and topic, yes they were influential.

Fuck rules. Break boundaries. Do what you want.

But in terms of genre, of interests that raise their heads in my work - like folklore, darkness, horror and fantasy - those seeds had already been planted and these works were simply the sun and rain that saw my confidence to write them grow. Interesting self-reflection, and why not do it yourself. What books in your life influenced you? And - if an author - do they still influence 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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