I am thinking about the references to books I put in my stories at times. And why I do that. I think I want to show off some of my knowledge of literature. And the reason for that is that I am not at all that versed in classic literature. I have read some and love some but I am not a very well read person. Not compared to many others. So the little I know I like to impress with.
So what books and authors do I like and inspire me? When I grew up I read a lot of Science Fiction. I love Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury. Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick is one of the strangest and most fascinating books I have read.
I was completely hooked on Tolkien for a while and honestly thought that it was unfair that they lived in a world where you knew what was good and what was evil. That kind of thinking applied to the real world leads to all sorts of horrible things. I tried to read other fantasy authors and realised I couldn't stand High Fantasy, those books about some young person who is taken on an adventure to save the world from evil and where there is magic and always, always, a map in the beginning.
The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin made me realise that there is good Fantasy that is not Tolkien. And now we have Philip Pullman and his Dark Materials series. Brilliant author, that. I can recommend The Golden Compass, the film.
And when it comes to other kinds of Fantasy I like some of the old authors, like Edgar Rice Burroughs, and especially his Martian Tales, not to mention Robert E. Howard, most known for his Conan books. What I like about Howard's creations, that makes them surpass Tolkien's when it comes to the imagination (not necessarily writing skill), is that he presents a world that is not divided into a good part and an evil part. Other human desires runs through his stories and makes them believable.
I do love stories about the fantastic. The master of horror stories is without doubt (in my humble opinion) Howard Phillips Lovecraft, an American writer of weird fiction. A particular favourite is Arthur Machen, although I have not read very much of him, yet. And Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. He has written a really great vampire story called Carmilla. Some hints of lesbian love there which doesn't make it any worse.
Ok, are there any classics in the collection of books? I do love Jane Austen. She is one of the wittiest and cleverest writers I have read. I think that the ultimate Romantic story is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. And Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is really a brilliant read.
I discovered Francis Scott Fitzgerald not that long ago and I am very impressed by his writing style. I am at the moment reading The Night Watch by Sarah Waters and that is unusual since she is a contemporary writer.
I don't know if this list of authors is impressive or not but it is what I have read and what has inspired me. I know there is so much left to read and I will not have time for all the brilliant books there is.
By the way, the reference in my latest blog post was from Jane Eyre. The last chapter, I think, begins with the words 'Reader, I married him.'