The Books That Made Your Favourite Authors Want To Write

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It’s a question that’s asked by interviewers all the time: how did you become a writer? It’s kind of a lob, and for many authors, the answer is obvious. Reading made them into writers. What else? Besides actually, you know, sitting down and doing the work. But while many authors cite a lifetime love of the written word, or a storytelling acumen developed in the womb, or a childhood spent lost in libraries, some can point to a specific book and say: that one. That’s the book that made me who I am today – if only because it opened a door, or gave me permission, or even just a spark. Below, a selection of these: 30 recommendations plucked from interviews and essays the internet over. If you read them all, you’ll probably become a writer instantly!

Zadie Smith: Hurricane, Andrew Salkey

A Jamaican writer called Andrew Salkey… wrote a YA novel called Hurricanebefore YA was a term. I remember it as the book that made me want to write. He was the most wonderful writer for children. I just found what looks to be a sequel, Earthquake, on an old-books stall on West Third, and I intend to read it to my kids. He died in 1995.

Alain Robbe-Grillet: The Stranger, Albert Camus

The two most influential books of the war years were Sartre’s Nausea and Camus’s The Stranger. Other novels by the same authors—for example Sartre’s The Roads to Liberty or Camus’s The Fall—are of little interest. I feel that I decided to become a writer when I read The Stranger, which appeared in 1942, during the Occupation. It was published by Gallimard, a firm very much connected with the Occupiers. By the way, Sartre himself finally confessed that the Occupation hadn’t bothered him much. But my reading of The Stranger, as I explain in the Mirror, is very personal. The murder committed by Mersault was the result of a situation, which is the situation of relationship to the world.

Eileen Myles: Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Do you remember what books you encountered, growing up in Massachusetts in the 1950s and 60s, that might have inspired you to want to become a writer?

The 50s is childhood up to age ten, so myths, sci-fi. Those didn’t make me want to be a writer. They made me want to do drugs or have adventures, travel. Maybe Little Women made me want to be a writer because Jo, the star of it, was a writer. I didn’t understand yet that that was the author. In the 60s I was a teenager. I liked Franny & Zooey, really everything by J.D. Salinger. I realized it was important who was talking. If you could tap into that you could get a flow going. Henry Miller came to me in the 70s. He said I didn’t ask to be born. He wrote in a complaining, American working class speech. He was from Williamsburg. It was ugly. It reminded me of Somerville, where I came from. He made it clear that an unprivileged American could be a writer and could have a lot to talk about. He switched constantly from speech to surrealism. That shift was important to me because an unstable self was what I had to use.

Jodi Picoult: Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

My favorite writer is Alice Hoffman; she’s brilliant. One of my favorite books in recent years was Yann Martel’s Life of Pi – I wished I’d written it, which is my highest form of compliment. The book that made me want to be a writer in the first place was Gone with the Wind – I read it and wanted to create a whole world out of words, too.

David Mitchell: The Earthsea Cycle, Ursula K. Le Guin

There was no single epiphany, but I recall a few early flashes. When I was ten I would be transported by certain books – Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, Susan Cooper’s fantasy novels, Isaac Asimov – and burn to do to readers what had just been done to me. Sometimes that burning prompted me to start writing, though I never got more than a few pages down. A few years later I would indulge in a visual fantasy that involved imagining my name on the jacket of a book – usually Faber and Faber – and I’d feel a whoosh inside my rib cage.

Emma Donoghue: The Passion, Jeanette Winterson

The book that made me want to write was The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. It made me feel that historical fiction didn’t have to be fusty and all about bodices, that it could be a thrilling novel, which just happened to be set in 1800.

Tom Wolfe: Napoleon, Emil Ludwig

Regarding writing, was there any particular book that influenced you?

I was greatly struck by Emil Ludwig’s biography of Napoleon, which is written in the historical present. It begins as the mother sits suckling her babe in a tent. […] It impressed me so enormously that I began to write the biography of Napoleon myself, though heavily cribbed from Emil Ludwig. I was eight at the time.

Roxane Gay: Beloved, Toni Morrison (and a lot of other books)

My writing ambition was sharpened by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, an unapologetically political novel that reminds us of what it costs to be a woman in this world or the next. My ambition, that toward which I aspire to write, has long been guided by Toni Morrison, Beloved, and through her words, seeing how a novel can be mysterious and true, mythical and raw, how a novel can honor memory even when we want to look away or forget. My ambition has long been sharpened by Alice Walker, willing to tell the stories of black women without apology, willing to write politically without apology – Possessing the Secret of Joy, a haunting, gorgeous novel about female genital mutilation that keeps me transfixed and heartbroken and helpless each time I read it, because sometimes the only way to tell the truth is to tell a story.

Neil Gaiman: The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis was the first person to make me want to be a writer. He made me aware of the writer, that there was someone standing behind the words, that there was someone telling the story. I fell in love with the way he used parentheses – the auctorial asides that were both wise and chatty, and I rejoiced in using such brackets in my own essays and compositions through the rest of my childhood.

I think, perhaps, the genius of Lewis was that he made a world that was more real to me than the one I lived in; and if authors got to write the tales of Narnia, then I wanted to be an author.

Anne Lamott: Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger

What book made you want to become a writer?

You mean, besides Pippi Longstocking?

Nine Stories blew me away‚ I can still remember reading “For Esmé – With Love and Squalor” for the first time, and just weeping with the poignancy of the damaged soldier and the young girl. And “Teddy” – I still remember the moment when the little boy Teddy, who is actually a sadhu, tells the reporter on the ship that he first realized what God was all about when he saw his little sister drink a glass of milk – that it was God, pouring God, into God. Or something like that – maybe I don’t remember it quite as well as I thought. But it changed me both spiritually and as a very young writer, because both the insight and the simplicity of the story were within my reach.

Oh, and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” and “Down at the Dinghy,” with the great Boo Boo Glass. And “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” – don’t even get me started…

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For more fantastic recommendations from your favourite writers, check out the original post here: http://lithub.com/the-books-that-made-your-favorite-writers-want-to-write/

The 25 Best Quotes About Authors

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The 25 Best Quotes About Authors

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. ~Eugene Ionesco

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. ~George Orwell

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~Thomas Mann

Writers and artists know that ethereal moment, when just one, fleeting something–a chill, an echo, the click of a lamp, a question—-ignites the flame of an entire work that blazes suddenly into consciousness. ~Nadine C. Keels

But writers and their woes: they couldn’t be parted. Not for anything. ~Naomi Wood

To say that a writer’s hold on reality is tenuous is an understatement – it’s like saying the Titanic had a rough crossing. Writers build their own realities, move into them and occasionally send letters home. The only difference between a writer and a crazy person is that a writer gets paid for it. ~David Gerrold

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Authors must spend months, years making fantasy believable in a single work while reality runs rampant and complete chaos elsewhere. ~Don Roff

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. ~G.K. Chesterton

Authors were shy, unsociable creatures, atoning for their lack of social aptitude by inventing their own companions and conversations. ~Agatha Christie

There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can’t screw it up. ~Raymond E. Feist

Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite. ~Edward Albee

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A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise. ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favour you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. ~Dorothy Parker

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. ~Robertson Davies

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. ~Logan Pearsall Smith

I’m the kind of writer that people think other people are reading. ~V. S. Naipaul

It’s better not to know authors personally, because the real person never corresponds to the image you form of him from reading his books. ~Italo Calvino

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The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it. ~Leo Rosten

The writer has little control over personal temperament, none over historical moment, and is only partly in charge of his or her own aesthetic. ~Julian Barnes

Either a writer doesn’t want to talk about his work, or he talks about it more than you want. ~Anatole Broyard

I suspect that most authors don’t really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so. ~Neil Gaiman

The historian records, but the novelist creates. ~E. M. Forster

Crippled and crazy, we hobble toward the finish line, pen in hand. ~Siri Hustvedt

Via: http://writerswrite.co.za/the-25-best-quotes-about-authors

Author Interview: Chevy Stevens – Never Let You Go

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Chevy Stevens’ debut, STILL MISSING, won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel in 2011. She has followed up that enormous success with one gripping psychological thriller after another, including ALWAYS WATCHING and THOSE GIRLS.

Stevens’ latest, NEVER LET YOU GO, introduces readers to Lindsey Nash, who leaves an abusive relationship and tries to start a new life with her young daughter, Sophie – but will learn years later that it is almost impossible to escape one’s past.

In this interview, conducted by Bookreporter.com’s Rebecca Munro, Stevens reveals why this book got such a late start; describes the challenges she faced in alternating the story’s points of view between Lindsey and Sophie; explains how she ensured that Andrew, the abusive ex-husband, wouldn’t be a cliché; and offers a few tantalizing details about her next novel, her first to be set outside of Canada.

Read the interview here: http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/chevy-stevens/news/interview-031617

Why must the ‘best new writers’ always be under 40?

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Do first-time writers have a sell-by date? You could be forgiven for thinking so. Buzzfeed posted a list of ’20 under 40 Debut Writers You Need To Be Reading’. And this is a great achievement for these authors.

But making a debut is a huge achievement at any stage in life, and it would be churlish not to celebrate all of them.

Follow the link for some thoughts on this topic, and a link to the original Buzzfeed article: https://www.theguardian.com/books/best-new-writers-always-under-40

40 Authors on How to be Happy

Unless you’re an animated sunshine or a clown, it’s difficult to maintain a constant state of happiness. As the weather gets progressively worse and the world appears to be imploding, we have some rather well-timed advice from 40 classic authors on how to be happy or how to avoid unhappiness. If you’re smiling by the end of this then you’re welcome…

Via http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/books/40-authors-on-how-to-be-happy

6 Inspiring Authors to Follow | The Write Space

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There are as many writing spaces around the world as there are writers. Each one unique, opulent or bare-bones basic with a single united purpose, to get words on paper.

Authors covet writing spaces in the same way they covet time to write, it’s a precious resource and finding the right space can make or break your writing goals, it can welcome or repel your muse.

Today’s post features six lovely authors and their writing spaces in the hopes they will inspire you to carve out your own unique space.

Via http://traceyambrose.com/the-write-space/