Collated Answers from WW interviews
Who are your favourite writers and why?
|Alan Williams||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Many of the comic writers of the sixties through to the eighties. Gardener Fox, John Broome, Stan Lee, Denny O’Neill, Alan Moore, Roy Thomas (whom I had the pleasure of meeting). Gardner Fox was an acclaimed SF writer as well as doing comics. He wrote an early Justice League story called When Gravity Went Wild. I took this same title for the inspiration of my latest story. Titles are very important to me.
Adventure writers like Burroughs, W E Johns Biggles books, SF writers such as Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Fred Hoyle, Jules Verne, H G Wells, John Wyndham and my strongest influence, Ray Bradbury.
Recently Cussler and Clancy for their off the wall adventures and a little known writer, Brad Meltzer for skilfully crafted novels like The Zero Game and Graphic Novels like Identity Crisis (a comic that redefined the Justice League in a controversial adult world).
Women’s Magazine writers that I admire for their imaginations and skills in writing include Della Galton and Christine Sutton. I’ve learnt a great deal from their writing and continuing friendship.
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|Ali McNamara||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got when training to be a personal trainer was ‘always make time to exercise yourself - it’s your job to be fit.’ And I think that’s the same for writers, you should always try to make the time to read. However, that’s sometimes easier said than done, and my new year’s resolution this year is to read more! But when I do get the chance I read very much within my own genre – Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, I particularly admire Cecelia Ahern’s vivid imagination in her later books. She’s not afraid to try something different than books about shopping, fashion and shoes! My writing hero however is not an author, but a script writer – Richard Curtis. He even has a small cameo part in my novel!
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|Andrew Blackman||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I love the stories of Jorge Luis Borges for their magical complexity, their luminous quality. Milan Kundera and Jean-Paul Sartre for grappling with the really big questions of life while also managing to tell good stories. Kazuo Ishiguro for just telling really good stories and keeping the message as subtle and understated as his prose. George Orwell for political commitment, brutal honesty, clarity of writing, and the precious insight that good writing is like a window pane.
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|Anji Pratap||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I don’t really have favourite writers since even the best writers tend to be patchy. I hardly ever re-read but one book I find bears re-reading is Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day. I feel sad for the author that he’s the only person alive that can never enjoy his book as a reader. I just love the psychological realism of it. I’ve had arguments with people about that narrator in the same way that you’d argue about a real person. As when discussing a real person, we were probably both right. Barbara Gowdy’s The Romantic does the same thing for me. Also, a book that hardly anyone else will know because sadly I haven’t succeeded (yet!) in selling it despite many near-misses: Gayle Ridinger’s The Shadow Wife. It is now available on Amazon, self-published via Lulu. It combines brilliant writing and a great plot and is a really fascinating meditation on identity and duality. This goes to show that not everything that deserves to be read sees the light of day. Although I live in hope.
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|Anne Brooke||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
A whole range of these! I love Jane Austen for her subtlety and wit, Murakami for his sense of humanity, eccentricity and style, the poet Neil Rollinson for his passion and commitment, and Gerard Manley Hopkins for his unique and urgent sense of God.
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|Apostrophe Books||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Everybody we publish, obviously, but in the outside word the list has to include Stephen King, Joseph Heller, Mark Haddon ... the list is pretty much endless. Stephen King's 'On Writing' should be compulsory reading for any would-be author.
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|Backhand Stories||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Raymond Carver, hands down. The meaning he could wrench from the simplest, most ho-hum aspects of every day life fill me with jealousy every time I read one of his stories. I also like Iain Banks, for pure readability and weirdness, and Jose Saramago for being so right.
I read a fair amount of science fiction too, from Philip K. Dick to Neal Stephenson, but it has to be very good not to bore me. And my guilty pleasure is Terry Pratchett, because his Englishness reminds me of home.
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|Beanie Baby||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I could read by the time I was three and for a very long time I would read everything I could lay my hands on. The first little book I actually remember owning was for "The Tufty Club" which was a road-safety scheme published by RoSPA. The first writer I can remember being really influenced by was Pamela Brown who wrote the Blue Door series and several other theatre-themed books and I was very excited when I learned she wrote it when she was still very young - fifteen or so - and it made me realise that children can be writers whereas before, I'd always thought of it as being something only grown-ups did. That had a big effect on my future aspiraions.
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|Bill Spence||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I was brought up on John Buchan, and as a boy, devoured all his novels. They probably inflamed my desire to write. I suppose we have all been influenced by the ‘literary’ writers, of these I would say Jane Austen was prominent in my reading.
Of modern writers I enjoy Susan Hill, particularly her Woman in Black and Mist in the Mirror. Barbara Erskine, P.D.James, Mary Higgins Clark.
I like their way with words and their story-telling capabilities.
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|Blackberry||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Sarah Waters – really pulls you into the story.
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|Bruce James||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Our favourite writers are John Godber, Alan Ayckbourn, Ray Cooney, Patrick Marber and many others too numerous to mention. There are also many reasons why. They are popular. They write well. They are ultimately commercial. They are different. They are accessible to many audiences.It is our belief that theatre should provoke emotion and reaction whether it is through laughter, thrills, tears, thoughts, etc. The best theatre is theatre that makes you think and leaves an impression on you. You don’t always have to enjoy a theatrical visit but if it makes you think you have created an impression. I enjoy all types of theatre and hope that audiences who see our productions will leave the theatre feeling uplifted spiritually and wanting to experience those feelings again. The writer will hopefully be able to express that through his work and allow us to move that on to the stage.
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|Cally Taylor||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My influences have changed over the years. When I was a child it was Enid Blyton, then Judy Blume when I got a bit older and writers like Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury and George Orwell when I discovered sci-fi in my mid-teens. These days my favourite writers are more varied and I’m a big fan of Douglas Coupland, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Hanif Kureshi, Maggie O'Farrell, Lisa Jewell and Mike Gayle.
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|Candi Miller||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Nadine Gordimer writes my South African life, as I never could.
Keri Hulme’s controversial Booker winner, The Bone People was seminal for me. The way she creates new words or ways of writing familiar ones, excited me, as did her themes.
I think Margaret Atwood is the greatest structuralist writing today. I believe structure is the most difficult technique we writers must master, so big-up Maggie.
Finally, I love the exuberance in Salman Rushdie’s writing. For me, it’s like spending time with a clever, show-off, hyperactive child – both engaging and exhausting.
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|Candy Denman ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Paul Abbott for Clocking Off, State of Play.Jack Rosenthal for the original London’s Burning, and many others. Alan Plater for The Beiderbecke Affair. Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais for the early Auf Wiedersehn Pet series, and Alan Bleasedale for Boys from the Black Stuff.
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|Caroline Rance||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Although I write historical grit and grime, I gravitate towards reading comedy, and some of my current favourites are Malcolm Pryce, Mark Poirier, Garrison Keillor and Bill Bryson. The main historical novelists whom I admire are Sarah Waters and Charles Palliser. As for the classics, I have been quite influenced by the Brontës, particularly Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which is so often under-rated for some reason.
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|Cassandra Clare||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My influences come from all over. Right now I'm enjoying "Night Watch"
by Sergei Lukyanenko, and I'm also reading a stack of classic mysteries
and crime fiction, because studying their spare, elegant plots helps me
structure the mystery elements in my own books. I also get a lot of
inspiration from Japanese manga, especially shoujo which tends to have
elaborate and fantastical adventure plots. I'd recommend Godchild and
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|Catherine Richards||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Obviously Luke has been a massive influence on my writing. I learnt so much from him and I really miss having him around to bounce ideas off.
Favourite writers…? Hmmm…where to start. I guess we have to start with Emily Bronte and Jane Austen as the original queens of Chick Lit. The bit in ‘Wuthering Heights’ where Cathy pours her heart out to Nelly about her love for Heathcliff made me cry when I was 17 and still brings a lump to the throat now. And I still want to push Lizzy Bennett out of the way and marry Mr Darcy as soon as Pemberly comes in to view.
I quite like reading the poetry of people like Dylan Thomas and T.S. Elliot (and probably Simon Armitage too.) I love the way they can take words and stretch and bend the meaning. Sometimes I find a word I like and try and build a section of prose around it in the same kind of way. I don’t think there’s any chance of me being the next laureate, however.
On a more down to earth practical level, you will see my bookshelves at home stacked with stuff by Lisa Jewell, Jenny Colgan and the like. I find I enjoy the down to earth ‘normalness’ of their characters. I get slightly irritated by characters in books who seem to have lots of money and glamorous lives and still find something to moan about.
I spend a lot of my working life analysing poems and novels and marking essays on them. In my free time it’s nice to read something that doesn’t work your brain too hard. Yes, I like my chick lit and I’m not afraid to admit it.
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|Cathy Glass||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I have always read widely including the classics – Dickens, Austen, The Brontes, Wilkie Collins etc. I tend to go through phases in reading contemporary writers – Fay Weldon, Susan Hill, Nick Hornby, Mark Haddon. It is difficult to say which writers have influenced me, but I greatly admire any new and exciting voice, for example Zadie Smith and Donna Tartt.
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|Cheeky Maggot||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I do love most American playwrights. I like the way they use language and the passion that comes through. Albee- my most favourite of his plays would be “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, Mamet, Sam Shepherd, Sarah Kane, Shakespeare (yes really!) Hanif Kureishi, Pirandello, Anthony Neilson, T Williams, Abi Morgan, Wallace Shawn……oh I could go on and on. I like dark plays, I like something that as an actor I could get my teeth into. Are the characters well-rounded? Would I want to play these people, would I want to watch these people, and would I want to direct these characters…I guess that’s what attracts me. But again, it's subjective…it's that “X” factor that castings are all about- it has nothing to do with how good or not the writer is- just with my personal reaction to that piece of writing and that’s so so subjective really.
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|Christina Courtenay||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writers include Georgette Heyer (amazing alpha heroes and great sense of humour), Barbara Erskine (I love time slip novels and hope to have one published myself one day), Ellis Peters and Elizabeth Chadwick – both of whom have an amazing ability to make history come alive. I used to mostly read historicals, but in the last few years I’ve started reading other genres too and I love all the books from my fellow Choc Lit authors. I also like some YA novels – Melissa Marr and Sarah Dessen in particular. I’m influenced by everything I read, so I can’t really pinpoint one author in particular.
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|Chroma||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Andrew Holleran, Zora Neal Hurston, Chekhov, Bruno Schulz, Roberto Bolaño, Javier Cercas, Clarice Lispector, Rebecca Brown, John Preston,Jamaica Kincaid, Kevin Bentley. And that’s just from a quick look at the bookshelf by my desk.
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|City-Lit||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
The ‘voice’ writers I mentioned earlier. I’d add Lorrie Moore and Alice Munro too. I try to read everything they write. Of course it’s also about originality, tone and subject matter. I was brought up in a place in the UK not too dissimilar to the Canadian countryside and full of the same weird people Alice Munro describes, which gives me an extra reason for enjoying her
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|Claire Allen||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
It's perhaps no surprise that my favourite author is Marian Keyes. I love (and respect) how she mixeds humour with serious issues which makes for very readable and yet meaningful books. I also like that she makes no apologies for writing popular fiction for women.
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|Claire Moss||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My tastes (like my writing, I suppose) are quite mainstream and not at all literary. The writer whose work I most aspire to is probably Curtis Sittenfeld. After I'd read American Wife, it wasn't that I felt I really knew the main character – I felt almost that I was her. Which, when you think it's based on the life of Laura Bush, is quite scary. For chick-lit I don't think anyone can come close to Marian Keyes. If she were a man, she would be profiled on the South Bank Show and studied in book groups, like Nick Hornby (who I also love). I'm also a big reader of thrillers and am a huge admirer of Harlan Coben for making ludicrously far-fetched plots seem plausible with such believable, sympathetic characters.
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|Clare Sambrook||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Hard to say — there’s so much I haven’t read.
Lately I’ve been eating up John Cheever’s short stories — so real and true and gripping. I came to him via Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield and Richard Ford.
I’m discovering the Greek myths and rereading the fairy stories I grew up with — food for the imagination.
Now and then I reread Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — wise and funny and comforting.
I like Elmore Leonard. He’s the master of dialogue.
I adore writers who make me laugh out loud. Hardly any do and they are J.D. Salinger, V.S. Naipaul (A House for Mr Biswas), John Kennedy Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces) and Joseph Heller (Catch 22).
I read stage plays, from Shakespeare to Wendy Wasserstein, screenplays by the masters — Bergman, Billy Wilder, Robert Towne, the Coen brothers. And poetry — there’s so much meat in one good poem and it’s the hardest thing to write. I love Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Don Paterson, M.R. Peacocke, Meg Peacocke, who — a great stroke of luck for me — is my poetry teacher.
Reading aloud with my children is a big help to my writing. Young children are true critics; they turn away from anything patronising, sentimental, bad storytelling of any kind. Among the storytellers we enjoy: Dr Seuss, Shirley Hughes, Mairi Hedderwick, John Burningham. Quentin Blake and Bill Watterson.
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|Courttia Newland||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writers are too many to mention! Some personal faves are Chester Himes, Walter Mosely, Langston Hughes, Colson Whitehead, Iain Banks, Roald
Dahl, Rupert Thomson, Susan Perabo, Maya Angelou, Rosa Guy, Ann Petry.
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|Craig Baxter||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I’m not particularly loyal to any particular writer. None bear too much attention before they start repeating themselves and less vividly than when you first discovered them (“It’s all right but it’s not as good as...”). Having said that, a couple of examples of writing that really inspired me when I read and saw them that spring to mind are Being Dead a novel by Jim Crace and The Clearing a play by Helen Edmundson. The first for skilfully and movingly combining the personal and the biological and the second for doing the same with the personal and the political.
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|Danny Rhodes||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
These have changed over the years and continue to change. I’m a fan of American fiction, largely because I find that many American writers employ a spare style that suits me as a reader. I’m a fan of both ‘literary’ fiction (whatever that is) and good old fashioned story-telling so my tastes range from Hemingway and William Maxwell to Stephen King and Richard Matheson. I’ve always been a fan of well told supernatural/horror stories and love writing them. I try to avoid reading too much fiction when I’m working on a project as I find my writing mirroring the style of the author I’m reading. Not a good thing when you’re trying to retain your own writing voice.
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|Darley Anderson||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My taste varies considerably. My favourite escapist fiction writers include Sophie Kinsella, Maggie O’Farrell, Cecelia Ahern and Marian Keyes. I love accessible literary book too, for instance FUGITIVE PIECES by Anne Michaels.
I have also always loved all books by John Fowles, Milan Kundera, Ian McEwan, Jenny Diski Hanif Kureishi and Roald Dahl.
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|David Smith||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
It would probably be unfair to single out any of our own clients – in a sense they are all favourites. But I will just mention Terry Darlington, a retired businessman whose book Narrow Dog to Carcassonne recounts his journey by narrowboat, with his wife and his whippet, across the English Channel and down the Rhone to Carcassonne. It’s an extraordinary adventure, but it’s Terry’s writing that makes the book. At times it might seem as if nothing much is happening in terms of drama, but the writing is breath-taking, funny, wise and startling. He’s one of those writers who could write about anything and make it riveting and human. And you just can’t explain how he does it.
Ian McEwan would have to be a constant favourite. To me he is the modern epitome of the poised, intelligent, classical literary author. He writes traditional third person narratives, he employs no shifting or split narratives, he grounds everything in the real world. And yet he is the most accomplished, inventive and original of craftsmen. Not a word is wasted, and his syntactical constructions – whether simple or complex – are flawlessly imaginative. He also has the ability to write huge books (in terms of stature, not length) about the most infinitesimally small matters of human life.
I was a huge fan of Peter Carey’s early novels – he’s very different from McEwan, but always had that same ability to make every word not just count but surprise as well. I’ve not got on quite so well with his more recent work, but Bliss, Illywhacker and Oscar and Lucinda represent a body of work that’s hard to beat.
Others who come to mind, because they are masters of language, scholars of humanity and story-tellers of inexhaustible imagination, are Paul Auster, Kate Atkinson, Pat Barker, Joseph O’Connor, John Le Carre and, yes, even though it may not be cool to say so, Salman Rushdie.
But if I’m looking for something a little lighter then Gerald Seymour’s your man for thrillers and Sandi Toksvig makes me laugh out loud. They may not be artists in quite the same way but their brilliant artisans.
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|Dawn Finch||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
For children I think it has to be Michael Morpurgo – I am in awe at his writing and when I’m asked to recommend one of his titles I can never pick just one because the man has never written a bad book. His book Private Peaceful made me cry buckets and I went out and bought about a dozen copies and pushed to have it read aloud to the 10yr olds in school because I think it is such an important book.
Louis Sachar’s Holes is a true masterpiece and one that I am very jealous of because there is not a wasted word in the whole book. Jonathan Stroud is an influence too because he is not afraid to add that dark edge to his books and he challenges his reader. We are in a golden age of children’s fiction so it is almost impossible to pick.
For adults it has to be Graham Greene. I love his jaded and brutally honest view of the world, we have that in common and his work speaks to me. Alice Hoffman writes with true beauty and her books never fail to move me. Evelyn Waugh’s work captures an era that I love and turns common views of it upside down. Thomas Hardy is a personal favourite and I think I must have read Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’Urbervilles a hundred times! Shakespeare has never dated and still speaks to all of us so the timeless quality of his work dazzles me. I read a lot of poetry too and rarely leave the house without Shelley or Keats in my bag…….. I’ll stop here because this could go on a bit!
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|Deborah Swift||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My main influences are actually plays. I spent many years as a set and costume designer for the stage so I am heavily influenced by all the drama I’ve seen on stage, and tend to think naturally in three acts, and in terms of scenes, stage directions and dialogue. For the novel I’m working on at the moment I have revisited Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and works by Restoration playwrights such as Wycherley and Aphra Behn. And Shakespeare an excellent place to find period-sounding insults and exclamations, though some of them are a bit too over the top for modern usage. “A plague upon you, whoremaster dog!” needs the right context to work these days.
Recent favourite reads on the historical fiction front have been Sarah Waters’ “Affinity” and C.J Sansom’s “Dissolution” (a real page-turner), but I also love Rose Tremain, she is masterful at creating the right voice for her characters. But I have always read widely, anything and everything, not just historical fiction – I’ve just finished Cormac Mc Carthy’s “The Road”, which was astonishing (in a good way.)
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|Diane Samuels||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writer is Stephen Sondheim, composer and lyricist. I love the way he deals with huge emotional and mythical themes whilst also being so astute in the detail of his characters. His play with words is inspirational, bitter-sweet, witty and true. His music is complex, demanding, discordant and so melodic at times that it makes me cry. Actually, songwriters are a big inspiration for me. I also love Elvis Costello and Joni Mitchell and return to their songs again and again. They also deal with huge themes from a deep emotional source and give insight into human feeling and behaviour and what it is to be alive through carefully observed detail. Other influences go beyond just writers – I love the sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, the work of visual artists Bill Viola, Sarah Raphael, Catherine Yass and Cindy Sherman, the clothes of Vivienne Westwood. As for writers, I like Philip Pullman, William Blake, Marge Piercy, Margaret Attwood, Pat Barker, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Shakespeare. I could go on and on.. I’m very taken by distinctive original voices and the realisation of an artistic vision which brings the world of the imagination alive in the physical world.. My favourite thing is diverse influences, lots of different kinds of work.
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|Domenica De Rosa||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My current favourite authors are David Lodge, Alison Lurie and Barbara Trapido. My ideal book would be about a lapsed Catholic working in the English Department of a university. I did an MA in nineteenth century literature and still love Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens and, especially, Wilkie Collins.
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|E and T Books||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Too many really to mention but at the moment, Kate Atkinson and Margaret Atwood – I love the surreal nature of their writing.
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|Earlyworks Press||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My first thoughts are of David Gemmell and Ursula K Le Guin – they seemed to me, when I discovered them, to be the only fantasy and sci-fi writers who had noticed that their female characters had brains as well as unusual bras. Then there’s R D Gardner, who brought me up short with some breathtaking new fantasy fiction this year. Terry Pratchett because his books are tremendously good fun and sneakily make us think. – but ask me on a different day and I’ll say Shakespeare or Peter Ackroyd, A S Byatt or Ruth Bidgood – I’m too greedy a reader to stick to one area. And I must mention the generations of long-forgotten story-weavers who passed down what is now our mythology. They are the ones Earlyworks Press is named for.
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|Elizabeth Buchan||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
There are so many fine writers, and great writers. To begin with, I was very influenced by the classics and the writers of the nineteenth century. Later on, I grew more interested in contemporary writing which is faster paced and more flexible. Ian McEwan and Michael Ondtjaae are role models, as Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.
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|Emilia di Girolamo ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I recently read Affinity by Sarah Waters and it was one of those books I wish I had written. It held me utterly captive from beginning to end. I find her writing so gripping. She has a real ability to take the reader right inside her characters and the world of the book so that you absolutely experience it. Alice Sebold is another favourite for very similar reasons and I think The Lovely Bones is one of the most incredible books ever written. I probably read far more fact than fiction but other favourite writers are Raymond Carver, Jeanette Winterson, Italo Calvino and poets - Thom Gunn, Sylvia Plath, Stevie Smith, Stephen Plaice, Tess Gallagher.
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|Eva Salzman||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Doesn’t every writer long to return to their first loves? I met mine via the 20,000-odd books which bowed the floors of my grandmother’s red-brick federal Brooklyn house, right around the corner. Its Miss Havisham-style fading grandeur included what was essentially my personal library, with a difference: I could keep the books I borrowed. My first passions included: Fielding, Thackeray, Austen, Eliot, Melville, Hawthorne, Dickens, the Brontes, the Russians, Wharton, Maugham, Mauppassant, Hardy, Lawrence, Dreiser, Mansfield, Mann…Slowly I moved into the 20th century.
Alongside “serious” reading, I devoured glossy magazines and the literary equivalent of junk food, indiscriminately and without guilt. As someone once said: hell, I’d read a cereal packet. I love travel books and memoir. Some people love to deplore the current cult of The Biography, but anyone who says they aren’t fascinated by people’s lives must be lying. I’d rather risk accusations of bad taste than not satisfy my curiosity.
Early poetry influences were Dickinson, Plath and Bishop. I’m drawn equally by the ideas and the language. I often whisper aloud, when reading, to taste words’ textures and flavours. Dickinson’s silences spoke to me too. At one point, embarrased by my adolescent ardour for death, I “outgrew” Plath, but latterly returned to this great writer who, even now, is often undervalued by the limited and limiting critical readings of her work.
Early influences included Auden and Frost but the Romantics came first. Some teenagers put up in their rooms rock-star posters. My pin-up was Keats. To die young is a good career move, especially for women. Part of my high school English teacher’s appeal was his weary, melancholy look. He didn’t seem long for this world. I moved to the front of his class. He tested on us student guinea pigs his tales about growing up poor in Ireland. He awarded grades of 96% to everyone, I think. Anyway, my instincts about Frank McCourt were off-based; he survived just fine. From him, I gathered that learning English was about learning stories, which I guess it is. I was lucky with teachers. They weren’t always nice, but they were damn interesting. At Bennington College and Columbia University, my teachers included: Derek Walcoot, Joseph Brodsky, Stanley Kunitz, C.K. Williams, Jorie Graham, Carolyn Kizer, Ben Belitt, Elizabeth Hardwick and Edmund White.
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|Fiona Robyn||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I like writers who get close to ‘real’ life – everyday beauty, bad sex, confused relationships… I think Raymond Carver is a master at this, and also Lorrie Moore, and Anne Lamott. I read a lot of poetry and non-fiction – for the past few years I’ve been reading a lot of books about Zen practice.
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|Five Leaves ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writers tend to be Jewish writers from North America - Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, Chaim Potok for example. All writers, perhaps, of a certain era which is vanishing. In non-fiction I have a great respect for Colin Ward, and have been pleased to publish or republish a few of his books. Colin is an anarchist who has spent a lifetime proposing anarchist solutions to our everyday problems. I suppose I am attracted to writers who are to some extent on the margins. The book I enjoyed most last year was by the Irish writer John MacGahern: That They May Face the Rising Sun. My own copy is in tatters now from loaning it to people. The book that gave me most pleasure to publish was The Shallow Grave by Walter Gregory. This was Walter's memoir of the Spanish Civil War. Gollancz published it in hardback only in 1986, the fiftieth anniversary of the War breaking out. I brought it out in paperback 1996 for the 60th, and through doing so got to know Walter Gregory and other Civil War veterans locally. In his old age Walter started doing speaking engagements and he was a wonderful, thoughtful speaker - which reflected his book. He is dead now, but I'll re-issue the title in 2006 when there may be renewed interest in the Civil War.
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|Flicking Lizard||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writer would have to be George Orwell. My favourite book of his is 'Down and Out in Paris and London', but all his writing is brilliant. I love not only his insights but the style of his writing and the philosophy behind it. He uses an economical, simple style. Don't use a big word if a smaller word better conveys your intention. Some favourite books would include 'East of Eden' by John Steinbeck, 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Marquez, and everyone's favourite Catcher in the Rye. The craziest, most irreverent book I've ever read would have to be 'The Dice Man' by Luke Rhinehart. It's a great laugh.
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|Fuselit Magazine||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Speaking for myself, mainly American writers. Melville and Twain were very funny guys, and I wish people weren’t scared off by Moby-Dick’s page count. Hawthorne’s short stories are incredible. Frank O’ Hara is a very warm, engaging poet, Ted Berrigan’s use of plagiarism is highly influential. Gertrude Stein’s writing never gets old for me. Chuck Palahniuk is one of the greatest humanists I’ve ever come across, and his writing takes you by the hand but never pulls. John Osbourne’s clean verse, and self-deprecating humour, Ian McLachlan’s playful, poignant sci-fi and Jon Stone’s phenomenal breadth of subject matter, voice and form are also big favourites.
The Designer, who goes by a range of pseudonyms, is a fan of Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, Ted Hughes, Kurt Vonnegut, Tony Harrison, Paul Celan, G.K. Chesterton, Philip K. Dick, and Glyn Maxwell among others.
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|Gary Davison||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I tend to favour books, not so much one particular author. Post Office, Charles Bukowski - hilarious, raw, such pace. Papillion, Henri Charrere – amazing true story of adventure. To Kill a Mocking Bird, Harper Lee – same reason most of the universe love it. The Graduate, Charles Webb - again, so funny, and achieved with just about pure dialogue. Boy Kills Man, Matt Wyman – simple effective prose that captures a great time and place with a quick-fire story. Fear and Loathing, Hunter S Thompson -crazy book, writing like I’d never seen before.
I could go on forever. A lot of my favourite books have been made into films, which I guess says something. Maybe because they’re so visual. I like that in a book. A great style, something different, unique, the way an author captures a moment, whatever it may be, influences and impresses me. Nowadays, it’s not just what an author tells that hits the spot, but how they tell it
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|George Szirtes||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
There is a chronology here and it might seem an odd one, but that’s because I never studied literature systematically under anyone else. In some ways I wish I had. I had wonderful unofficial mentors: Martin Bell, Peter Porter and Peter Scupham chiefly. They read what I wrote and spoke clearly about it as best they could. Young writers need that above anything else.
So the favourites and influences ramble from the unlikely Rilke and Rimbaud (from cheap Penguin series), as well as Ginsberg. Then Eliot hit me, then Auden. They have never left me. It was impossible to avoid Philip Larkin, but I wanted something closer to Joseph Brodsky, Anthony Hecht and Sándor Weöres (Hungarian). Louis McNeice and Elizabeth Bishop joined the top table. The historical figures now include the greats, but especially George Herbert, Thomas Wyatt, Andrew Marvell, Alexander Pope (a great favourite of Martin Bell’s), a lot of minor 18th century ‘silver’ poets (I love silver poets), Coleridge (the great Coleridge of The Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, Frost at Midnight, and the Dejection Ode).
The fact is, all the writers you read and love get together and form a choir of speakers and listeners in your head. They get into your central nervous system. William Blake, Christopher Smart have been there a long time. The people I have not fully engaged with include Milton and much of Wordsworth, but I will. The comic Byron is stunning. Shelley and Keats at best are irresistible. Emily Dickinson, John Crowe Ransom, Theodore Roethke. And Wallace Stevens!
I’d better stop there.
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|Gillian Cross||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I very much admire Peter Dickinson’s books, and Frances Hodgson Burnett is also a favourite of mine – particularly The Secret Garden. But this is a bit of a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question. And there are loads of writers I admire who don’t influence my writing at all.
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|Gold Dust||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Too, too many. A quick list: Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Caryl Phillips, William Maxwell, Michael Holroyd, Raymond Carver…..The ‘why’ is difficult to answer, too. In all those examples above I’m deeply pulled in by the subject matter, and I have the feeling of a perfect marriage struck between form and content, and that something important is being conveyed to me, something that matters.
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|Gordon and Williams||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
RG: DH Lawrence for his short stories – I can’t think of anyone who has taken the format to the absolute crystalline perfection that he did. The efficiency of his prose and his portrayal of emotion is something I have never dared to aspire to. Other favourites are many and include William Golding and Thomas Pynchon’s work, and also Joyce, Beckett, and Peake, and many of the Russian authors such as Dostoevsky and Gogol.
BW: William S. Burroughs for the simple reason he showed me that all writing is a magical process in which no one can own the words. Also that writing is always 50 years behind painting, and the purpose of writing is to rub out “the word”. Also: Philip K. Dick, Dylan Thomas, Sam Beckett, JG Ballard, Flan O’Brian, Paul Bowles, Barry Gifford. For poetry: Rimbaud, Patti Smith, Yeats, Keats, Allen Ginsberg, etc.
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|Helen Black||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
In the blood and guts category, I love Mark Billingham, Karin Slaughter and when I grow up I want to be Minette Walters. Don’t get me started on her structures.
My all time fave book is The Secret History by Donna Tart which is a thriller written by an angel.
I also have a huge place in my heart for Crime and Punishment which my Dad re –read every year. The picture of this old miner, sucking away on an Embassy Regal, deep in commune with a long dead Russian author, still delights me.
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|Helen Castor||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Hilary Mantel. She’s a wonderful historian as well as a superlative novelist. She writes with such utter lucidity and extraordinary humanity – the power and precision of words, in action. Wolf Hall and A Place of Greater Safety are two of the most remarkable historical books I’ve ever read.
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|Cornerstones||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
There are too many to list, so those that come to mind are:
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca (atmosphere and tension)
John Fowles, The Magus (psychological twists and genius character plotting)
Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits (mystical thread and characters)
Ernest Hemmingway, The Old Man and The Sea (strength and life message)
Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth (epic characters and setting, and pace)
Francoise Sagan, Chamade (a celebration of love and atmospheric language)
Clive Barker, Imagica (colour and imagination)
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner (character conflict and setting)
Lee Weatherly, Missing Abby (character journey and tension)
Julie Cohen, Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak (manipulative character conflict)
Louis Sachar, Holes (it’s perfect in every way: plotting, setting, character journey)
Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now (creating a believable ‘other’ world)
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|Helen McWilliams||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I am a huge fan of JK Rowling, the ‘Harry Potter’ books re-introduced me to reading at a time when I had been particularly lax. I also rate Alan Bennett, as I enjoy his observational style, he’s my top monologue writer. I must also add Julian Fellowes to this list as I am a fan of ‘Downton Abbey’!
I was and still am influenced by the actors and actresses I grew up watching on television and in the theatre. I have quite a long list of favourites, but I have a short-list of five actresses, all of whom I would be honoured to write roles for and they are Judy Buxton, Tracey Childs, Felicity Dean, Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol. I suppose you could call those ladies my childhood heroes, and they very often pop into my head when I’m writing monologues/duologues.
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|Into The Void||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I'll just name who my perhaps favourite is because I'll go off on a tangent otherwise. That is Denis Johnson, simply because I connect with the way he tells his stories and the characters he tells them through. A lot of what he writes concerns weird, lonely, outsider types who cannot for the life of themselves understand the chaos of the world around them and that idea appeals to me. Also his writing is superb: crystal clear, kind of minimal, but bursting with vivid sentences that present commonplace things in a whole new, often twisted, way. His protagonists have strange psychologies too that you can't help but identify with, and they really come to life as people, as characters should.
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|Jae Watson||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
This question makes me panic because there are so many books that I love and so many writers who have influenced me that not to mention them all is like forgetting to thank your parents at the Man Booker Prize awards (Chance would be a fine thing). So, to name but a few: Wuthering Heights was one of the first books I read that haunted me for years afterwards, the fact it was Emily Bronte’s only published novel somehow makes it more poignant. She created such vivid characters and mood. I love Thomas Hardy and George Elliot for similar reasons. Possession by A.S Byatt contains all the elements of a good novel for me. John Fowles creates great mystery and illusion, especially in The Magus where things are never quite as they seem. Graham Greene has such beautifully observed characters and The End of the Affair is one of my favourite books. I love Milan Kundera’s ability to write about complex ideas simply. Margaret Atwood is superb all round. Siri Hustvedt in What I loved writes in that sharp and economic East-Coast American way that I really envy. Most recently I found The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger and The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai both moving and thought-provoking books…
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|James Burge||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Strangely for a writer of non-fiction (so far) I am going to start with novelists. Two writers who seem to me to be masters of the art of making every scene work in terms of character and action as well as enhancing the overall ‘feel’ of a book are Le Carré and William Boyd. I would love to get that kind of tension into my non-fiction work.
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|Jane Elmor||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I like contemporary fiction, often American because of the musical lilt of the language, writing that makes deceptively easy reading but carries a depth and cleverness that doesn't necessarily show itself on the page. I don't particularly want to know what a smartypants the author is, I just want to fall in love with the characters and know what happens to them. Some of my faves are Lorrie Moore's Who Will Run The Frog Hospital, Willy Vlautin's The Motel Life, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, of course (does everyone say that one if they haven't put To Kill A Mockingbird?) Recent favourite reads have been Tessa Hadley's The Master Bedroom and Patrick Gale's Notes From An Exhibition.
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|Jane Rogers||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Faulkner was very important; he made me excited about the possibilities of using multiple voices. And I love the rhythms of his prose.
Other writers whose work I love: Dostoevsky, Virginia Woolf, Alice Munro, Anita Desai, Kazuo Ishigro, Doris Lessing, Christina Stead, Patrick White, Henry James, Coetzee, Chinua Achebe, William Trevor, Elizabeth Taylor, Updike . . . well, how long have you got? Every good book makes an impact, and favourites change as time goes by. My current favourite book is Roth's American Pastoral. But I also find that each novel I am working on calls upon work by other writers. I'm currently writing a novel set in the future, and have looked again at John Wyndham, whose The Chrysalids is a wonderful book, big ideas expressed in elegant simplicity.
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|Jem||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Difficult one this. I always say my favourite book is the one I’m reading at the moment. I’ve just finished Sophie Hannah’s ‘Hurting Distance’ – I’ve read all three of her crime novels one after the other (though not in the right order, I realize) and have loved her characterization.
I think I did most of the reading that impressed me and stayed with me in my late teens and twenties, when I wasn’t writing but evolving as a writer and subconsciously deciding on the themes I would be writing about. The early Susan Hill was a great influence, as was Elizabeth Taylor, Alison Lurie, Carson McCullers, Carol Shields, oh, I could go on and on….. More recently I’ve adored Gerard Woodward’s three novels about the Jones’ family: ‘August’ ‘I’ll Go to Bed at Noon’ and ‘A Curious Earth’ and some of the novels of Joyce Carol Oates who’s been writing for years but who somehow escaped me.
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|Jenn Ashworth||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
There is so much I could write here. I read Kazuo Ishiguro when I was sixteen, and that started off an abiding interest in first person and unreliable narrators. I love the economy and depth of Patricia Highsmith's work, and Ali Smith's prose is so vivid and playful that I could read it all day. I've recently discovered Paul Auster, although I think he might be a phase, and my favourite, favourite novel is either Anna Karenina, Moby Dick or Madame Bovary. I don't think these writers are as much influences as they are inspirations. I don't want to write like them, but I want to write as well as them, in my own voice and on my own terms.
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|Jenny Eclair ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
For years I resisted the classics, I never realized how witty Emily Brontewas. I like a mix of soppy and hard, my favourite book of last year was theBooker nominated Notes On a Scandal by Zoe Heller. On the other hand, eventhough I like DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little (the winner of the Booker) and Ithink it's funny, I haven't bothered to finish it! Jonathan Coe is good andI'm a very big fan of Liz Jensen, 'War Crimes For the Home' is brilliant.I like my comedy dark.
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|Jill McGivering||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Many writers have influenced me but perhaps Virginia Woolf most of all. I was first introduced to her novel, TO THE LIGHTHOUSE, when I was still at school. My emotions and ideas were still raw and her lyrical, often beautiful, use of language was a big formative influence. I carried on studying her work through a BA and then an MA in English Literature and admire her attempts to break new ground by groping for the infinite, the inner, the unexpressed. In terms of contemporary writers, I really enjoyed FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters. Her writing is deceptively spare but always skilful and it’s brilliantly plotted.
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|Jim Younger||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writers are legion, too many to name exhaustively. I spent juvenile years imitating H.G. Wells and Graham Greene. I value literature as entertainment. I wrote dreadful poetry in imitation of Eliot and Pound. I was very taken by Ezra Pound, and later the Beats and Dylan, whom I imitated in their turn. Then I took up music obsessively and stopped writing until I was in my thirties. Bit of a jump-cut there, eh? If I was to name names today I would say: James Joyce, Herman Melville, and among living novelists, Doris Lessing.
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|John Murray||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writers are a large and disparate bunch. I've been compared to Flann O'Brien which is very flattering, though I think he's a genius and I sincerely don't think I am. I like vigour and energy and honesty in writing as long as it isn't all for showing off purposes. So I like the great Russians and their emphasis on character and morality. Turgenev, Gorky, Tolstoy, Gogol etc. For the same reason I also love the Virago writer GB Stern who was a friend and contemporary of Noel Coward and Rebecca West. Her novels about Hungarian Jews settled in London are both brilliant and funny. Of my British contemporaries(I was born in 1950)the only one I'm really enthusiastic about is Lisa St Aubin de Teran. Oh and I admire a lot of out of print Irish writers such as Liam 'O Flaherty, Peadar O'Donnell and Michael McLaverty(no relation of Bernard).
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|Jon Haylett||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I don’t enjoy most novels, particularly modern novels, preferring well-written non-fiction or novels with a firm factual base. So I have difficulty in pointing at an author and saying that he or she influenced my style of writing. On the other hand, I do have some favourites, which include:
1. Books about the history of the opening up of Africa by European missionaries, hunters and explorers, for example Patterson’s Man-eaters of Tsavo, JA Hunter’s Hunter’s Tracks, The Washing of the Spears by Donald R Morris, a history of the rise and near-destruction of the Zulu nation, and the stories of men such as Robert Moffat, the missionary who opened Africa for people like Livingstone.
2. Novels including Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, particularly Justine, which I first read as I hitch-hiked along the North African coast towards Alexandria, Jock of the Bushveld by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, the story of a dog in the early days of the European penetration of South Africa, Something of Value by Robert Ruark, a novel, but sometimes described as the best history of the outbreak of Mau Mau in Kenya, and A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtmanche, a chilling story of the Rwanda massacre in 1994, because, as so often happens, a novel is first in revealing the true horror of events ignored by press and politicians.
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|Jonathan Wolfman||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Too many to name! I have to say that Shakespeare is still king but really my biggest influences have been American. Raymond Chandler and the whole film noir genre was the earliest influence. Elmore Leonard whose economy and dialogue always thrills me. Most film adaptations of his work have been poor. But Tarantino captured the spirit in his film Jackie Brown, Get Shorty was pretty good but not as cool as the book. The first three episodes of “Justified” are probably the closest to the Elmore Leonard spirit though. James Lee Burke I love. He writes crime but has the soul of a poet. I’ve always liked the best action movies too, but the more grown up unusual movies and series keep me glued too.
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|Josa Young||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
In the early 1980s, I was a features assistant at Vogue, and Carmen Callil kicked off the Virago Modern Classics series. They came into the office, one after another, a long parade of paradise for me in green glossy covers. I read the lot, from Pamela Frankau to Jan Struther, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Willa Cather to Antonia White. The only one I didn’t get on with was Rebecca West, who was still alive and we interviewed and photographed her. But I found her novels preachy. These have been my main influences – intelligent, well-plotted, passionate books that don’t fit into any kind of modern genre. So when fellow novelist Isabel Wolff said, having read One Apple Tasted, and knowing little or nothing about me: 'Compelling, original, cleverly plotted and funny, One Apple Tasted reads like a Virago Modern Classic' – of course I was thrilled. This might of course be why I couldn’t get One Apple Tasted published for a while!
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|Julia Bell||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
George Orwell – because he was an English writer with a social vision, and he was funny. Keep The Aspidistra Flying is one of my favourite novels. Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections – what a wonderful, rumbustuous, clever, funny, humane piece of writing.
Michael Chabon – mostly for The Wonder Boys, but his other novels are fantastic too, and he scripted some of Spiderman movie.
Colette – especially the Cheri novels. She captures a certain naughty, curious, sensual teenage girl’s voice perfectly. I have a soft spot for English campus novels too – David Lodge and Kingsley Amis and Malcolm Bradbury and I thought Zadie Smith’s On Beauty was a really worthy winner of the Orange Prize.
Looking over my bookshelf there are also lots of short story collections – North American mostly where they have celebrated and published short stories and allowed them to develop into a genuine form of high art. Alas over here they are treated as the poor cousin of the novel. There’s lots of Raymond Carver, and collections by Borges, Alice Munro, Jayne Anne Phillips, Junot Diaz. Then some English masters – Angela Carter and Helen Simpson.
I could go on and on but I’ll spare you. This is just today’s selection. I am always astounded by people who apply to our courses who haven’t read much. To be a good at fiction writing you need to read. Lots. Also not just fiction. I’m currently reading a book about diving as research for a story. Writing gives you permission to read across all the sections of the library. There’s nothing more fun than being able to read about volcanoes or bird biology or nail technology or the politics of Russia in the name of novel research. Good writers are magpies and they steal huge amounts of general knowledge in order to feather the nests of their writing.
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|Julia Copus||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
This is a hard one. I have quite wide tastes and I’ll give you the names of two poets from opposite ends of the spectrum: I really love Anne Carson (especially her ‘Glass and God’ collection) because she distils what it is to be human into so few words, memorably and beautifully, but I also love Billy Collins, for his quick-wittedness and because he makes me laugh. I also love W.S. Graham, Dorothy Molloy, Alice Oswald… This is rather a random list, though. There are so many.
My favourite short story writer, without a doubt, is Alice Munro. And one of my favourite contemporary playwrights is the fantastic David Eldridge (‘Festen’, ‘Market Boy’, ‘Under The Blue Sky’) – though I may be slightly biased as one of his plays is dedicated to my fiancé! As for novelists, a great favourite is Carol Shields (‘The Stone Diaries’ and ‘Larry’s Party’). I love the way Shields marries the personal with the universal, the parochial with the global, the outside world with a character’s inner life – in almost every sentence, it seems. For instance, I remember a passage from ‘Larry’s Party’ in which the protagonist carefully sprinkles cinnamon onto his cappuccino in order to get an even coverage. This little cloud of cinnamon forms in the air before it drifts down onto the coffee cup, and in the next breath it’s compared with a dust storm which had coated every ledge and leaf in Winnipeg the previous summer. I love that kind of combination. And quite apart from that, the extraordinary care that Larry takes over this tiny action tells us so much about his temperament, of course.
But in general, I find this a difficult question to answer, as I tend to have favourite poems or stories or books rather than favourite writers.
How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication?
This isn’t very interesting. I won an Eric Gregory Award – a big award for poets under 30. The prize is administrated by the Society of Authors (www.societyofauthors.org), and they give four or five awards each year. I’d strongly urge any promising young poets out there – whether published or unpublished (I was unpublished) – to enter. Not only does it offer a big financial boost, but many publishers keep an eye out for each year’s ‘class of Gregory winners’. And it’s astonishing how many well-known (as well as less well-known) poets have won one of these awards – Alice Oswald, Lavinia Greenlaw, Don Paterson, Jackie Kay, Kathleen Jamie, Medbh McGuckian, Sean O’Brien, Andrew Motion, Paul Muldoon, Brian Patten, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Seamus Heaney, Douglas Dunn... You get the idea!
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|Kal Bonner||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I'd say that my greatest influences are probably Groucho Marx, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker and Hunter S Thompson. I'm also a great admirer of Matt Groening and his team. I also don't mind a bit of Dickens now and then - but who doesn't? The key to my heart is humour, razor sharp wit and dialogue that could fell Goliath in one breath.
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|Kate Long||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I think I’m influenced to some degree by every piece of fiction I read, and I read widely – if I turn and look at my bookshelf I can see that Startled by his Furry Shorts sits on top of Beloved, and Jonathan Safran Foer nestles against Erica James. So while I admire writers who use plain, muscular prose like Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons, I also love authors who use language more experimentally – Jeanette Winterson, Kate Atkinson, Liz Jensen, for example. All-time favourite contemporary author is probably Alan Garner, for the tightness of his writing and his sense of place.
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|Kathryn Haig ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
That depends on when you ask me and what mood I’m in. If I’m in a comfortable frame of mind, Jane Austen can be re-read and re-read. I can always find something fresh and new in her writing. Susan Howatch’s early historical novels were great favourites. My daughter introduces me to newer, younger writers and I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy her choices.
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|Kia Abdullah||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I have a multitude of favourite writers; Harper Lee, Alice Walker, L. M. Montgomery. More recently, Khaled Hosseini who wrote a stunning debut and Jodi Picoult who covers topics that are so different from anything else out there. I can’t say I have any direct influences as I write from a very personal perspective but I think in general, writing good books is a result of reading good books.
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|Kit Peel||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I mostly read poetry. I tend more to have favourite poems than favourite poets. Poetry both traditional and experimental. Other than that I mostly read non-fiction, current affairs etc.
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|Komedy Kollective||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Komedy Kollective don't merely oppose elitism in theatre. There are millions of storytellers who would surely, if they ever got the chance, change society for the better, reaching out to the hearts, minds, and souls, of the wider public (not just theatregoers!), if only they were afforded the opportunity to stage large scale productions in mainstream venues, with the possibility of making a lasting impact upon public consciousness.
We don't wish to put writers on pedestals, so we won't say WriterX is better than WriterY, especially as we believe popularity is arbitrary, much dependant upon fame, which itself depends on luck as much as talent, but we will give a shout to notable performers who have left a lasting impact upon cabaret theatricians like ourselves: -
Dario Fo is to be commended for his expansion of Brechtian satire, Frantic Assembly for their stylistic presentation and pace, Baba Israel for his inventive use of rap dialogue, Forced Entertainment for their wild and alive presentation style, and Cirque du Soleil, for entertainment value. Mix, blend, and serve with the piping-hot relish of the League of Gentlemen, plus a generous helping of Marx Brothers-style ultra-absurdity, and you have Komedy Kollective in a nutshell.
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|Laura Wilkinson||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Ohhhh, I admire many, many writers for all sorts of different reasons and I could go on for a long time. I’ll keep it as brief as I can. Here goes…
Sarah Waters for her daring and colour, and simply brilliant storytelling, Margaret Atwood for the scale and breadth of her imagination, Rachel Cusk for her razor sharp wit and intellect, Kurt Vonnegut for his humour and compassion, the late, great Bernice Rubens for her dark humour and for not ignoring the old, the ugly and the plain odd, A.S. Byatt for her erudition and Possession, John Fowles for weaving spells, Enid Blyton for getting me hooked as a child, Joseph Conrad for Heart of Darkness, Jeanette Winterson for her sensuality and imagery, Ali Smith for her risk-taking and richness of language, Philippa Gregory for reinventing so many heroines from history, Tolstoy for the incomparable Anna Karenin, likewise Mikhail Bulgakov for The Master and Margarita, Guy de Maupassant for his short stories. And the simply divine Angela Carter. I’d better stop there or we’ll be here all day.
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|Lawrence Bowen ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
See above. Plus “The Party”, “Being There” and recently on TV “State of Play”, the latest “Prime Suspect”, a bit of “Spooks”, anything by Dominic Savage, most things by Tony Garnett.
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|Lee Jackson||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
On the Victorian side of things, I’d have to say Dickens (hard to ignore), Peter Ackroyd’s biography of Dickens (best book ever, in my estimation), Wilkie Collins (read Armadale, if you’ve read his other more famous books) and George Gissing (eg. The Netherworld, In the Year of Jubilee). Gissing is a greatly under-rated writer, I think, partly because of his bleak view of human nature. In modern fiction, I’ve always loved Angela Carter and Paul Auster – neither of whom pay much attention to plot, or even, arguably, character, but just seem to explore entirely different universes, that most of us hardly ever glimpse. I think that a lot of what draws one to a writer is a the way they write, rather than precisely what they are saying. I also have to credit Sarah Waters, whose first book was a major inspiration for me writing ‘neo-Victorian’ fiction (terrible term) … I think she was rather non-plussed when I emailed her to thank her for it.
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|Lola Jaye||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
The simple answer is, I can’t name a particular writer, but can think of a number of books that have for some reason influenced me or touched me or just made me laugh out loud!
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is such an amazing book. Beautifully written, thought provoking and moving to the very end. A particular scene involved the lead character coming face to face with an old family pet and was one of the best scenes I had ever read. A simple yet very powerful passage. I also like reading about dysfunctional families and Terri McMillan did this best in A Day Late, a Dollar Short. Also, when a writer is able to transport me into a different time and culture, I can easily get hooked and Arthur Golden did this with Memoirs of a Geisha.
A writer who is able to make me laugh out loud is rare but I found The Best a Man Can Get by John O’Farrell and The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella were able to do just that.
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|The London Magazine||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
George Elliot, for her rich prose, T. S. Elliot for his sheer bravery and innovation, Wordsworth…the list is far too long to go on with.
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|London Script Consultancy||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Favourite films: ‘El Topo’, ‘Weekend’ and ‘8 ½’
Favourite writer: Billy Wilder
Favourite screenplay: Annie Hall
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|Long Barn Books||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
SUSAN: Too many but Dickens, Graham Greene, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Roth, Penelope Fitzgerald, Hardy, Carson McCullers. John McGahern. Style and substance, wonderful evocations of place and investigations into the human heart. Prose to die for. And stories, stories, stories..
JESSICA: Anything by Patrick McGrath – Asylum is one of my all time favourite novels. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – it’s one of the strangest, most complex, most exciting and multi-layered things I’ve ever seen. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Douglas Kennedy, Jay McInerney, Nancy Mitford, Dominic Dunne.
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|Lucy McCarraher||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
This is such a hard question. I’ve always been a voracious reader and I love so many writers’ work. I would say my earliest influences were probably Enid Blyton (for plot), P L Travers (for fantasy) and Dodie Smith (for character – dogs notwithstanding). My father read me “Pride and Prejudice” and M R James’ ghost stories when I was eight, and although I wouldn’t dare compare myself with Jane Austen, I hope “Blood and Water” is something of a modern day comedy of manners, and also has ghost story amongst the plot strands.
I adored Virginia Woolf as a teenager, and find Jilly Cooper compulsive light reading. I found Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible” one of the most devastating and brilliant novels I’ve ever read and “The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” like a delicious, emotional chocolate binge. I could go on for ever: I have been part of a book group for years and read at least one book for that and probably another novel a month, with the odd factual publication and books for research purposes thrown in.
Two major influences, though, both of which I came upon unexpectedly, are Elizabeth Jane Howard’s war-time trilogy about the Cazalet family, “The Light Years”, “Marking Time” and “Confusion”. I love the way she creates a world of such depth and luminosity, with an extended family of characters who take the strengths and flaws through several generations during a historic period. I’m sure my 1940s story in “Kindred Spirits” has been influenced by these. And Susan Howatch’s series of spiritual/psychic novels about Jon Darrow et al, from “Glittering Images” through to “Ultimate Prizes” are gripping and intellectually satisfying on a subject rarely tackled in a populist way. Some of the spiritual issues I’ve touched on some in “Blood and Water” I can definitely trace back to those novels.
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|Luisa Plaja||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I love fiction written primarily for teenage girls and my favourite authors include E. Lockhart, Maureen Johnson, Rachel Vail, Jaclyn Moriarty and Sarra Manning. I admire the way they write with wit and honesty about relationships and growing up. I love their strong female characters, and the focus on a time in life when most major decisions have yet to be made.
I do enjoy grown-up fiction as well. Books I've loved recently have included Mothernight by Sarah Stovell, Prince Rupert's Teardrop by Lisa Glass and More Than Love Letters by Rosy Thornton. At the moment I'm reading a fantastic book of short stories: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. I've also always admired the work of Jane Rogers and Barbara Gowdy, among others whose names have annoyingly popped out of my head right now.
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|Macmillan New Writing||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Changes every day. I’ve just read Benjamin Kunkell’s debut novel Indecision: funny, intelligent, and far more serious than it at first appears.
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|Malcolm Burgess||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
There are so many it’s an impossible question. Professionally speaking there are lots of comic writers I’ve always found inspiring from Mark Twain and James Thurber to Dorothy Parker and Stella Gibbons. I do like a bit of bite and edge and of course brilliant comic timing! Other writers that I try to read everything they produce include the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro and the Californian novelist and journalist Joan Didion. I just love their voices – I think voice and tone is so important in writing and lets you know you’re in capable hands. My own writing territory is a million miles from these two but I literally can’t put them down.
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|Maria McCarthy||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City series) and Nancy Mitford (Love in a Cold Climate, Pursuit of Love) for being witty, perceptive and kind.
Victoria Holt (especially Legend of the Seventh Virgin, which I’ve read and re-read), Kathleen Winsor and the delicious Restoration romp Forever Amber (again, very much re-visited) for unashamed drama and compelling page-turning quality.
Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential) for reminding me why I worked in catering for so long and loved it so much.
Early Margaret Drabble and Edna O’Brien for creating stories and characters I could relate to when I was an unsure-of-myself twentysomething.
And I’m a fan of Julie Burchill’s journalism – fresh and sharp in a sea of Polly Filler blandness.
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|Mark Booth||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I tend to go for contemporary writers with a lively and vivid writing style. Annie L Proulx is one of my favourite writers – she paints with words in a way I wholly admire. Iain Banks is a writer I enjoy for his breadth of subject matter and his ability to hold your interest all the way through a book. Will Self comes near the top for his imagination and humour.
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|Mark Liam Piggott||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
John Updike, for writing about “ordinary” people in an extraordinary way; Philip Roth, for his vision; Martin Amis, for his style (except Yellow Dog). Plus hundreds more.
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|Matt Lynn||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
One thing that happens to you a professional writer is that you start reading in a different way. When you are reading, you always notice things about structure or pacing or characters that are interesting, so even if you don’t like the book that much, there are still things to learn from it.
Of thriller writers, I admire John Buchan, Eric Ambler, Alistair MacLean, Len Deighton, Frederick Forsyth, and Michael Crichton. Of military writers I think Sven Hassel was outstanding – he wrote incredibly vivid portraits of World War Two, and you sympathise with his characters even though they are Germans. I like to think my own books exist in that tradition, although admittedly I may be flattering myself.
Of writers in general, I guess Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut, and Joseph Heller are my all-time favourites.
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|MBA Literary Agents||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Favourite writers and why?
George Elliot, Toni Morrison and Kate Atkinson. Because they are all brilliant!
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|Meg Peacocke||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
It varies. I have read some poems, and some poets, over and over again, and then not looked at them again for years. Among the poets: George Herbert, Herrick, Milton, Tennyson, Yeats, Zbigniev Herbert, Rilke (these last in assorted translations), Edward Thomas. I read the Bible a lot, and collections of myths and fairy tales. Recently I’ve been reading mostly American poetry:
Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, C.K.Williams, A.R.Ammons, Lisel Mueller.
Difficult to say why I make the choices that I make at any one time: it’s as though I lacked a trace element and was looking for it there. By my bed at the moment: Don Paterson and a translation of Rumi.
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|Michael Ridpath||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
There are two I suppose. Dick Francis wrote thoroughly enjoyable thrillers about a subject (horse racing) that didn’t interest me particularly. I wanted to recreate for other people the pleasure I received from reading his books.
William Boyd is not afraid to try different approaches to writing novels. I admire his courage and the way he sometimes achieves real genius.
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|Michael Rosen Interview||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
This is difficult. As I’ve said, I enjoyed D.H. Lawrence’s poems a lot because I liked the way in which they were openly reflective and anecdotal. I liked the conversational directness of them. Then I liked Carl Sandburg because of the way in which he used conversation and the spoken voice. And I liked the very urban feel of many of his poems. I also liked his politics whereas Lawrence’s pyscho-sexual-social stuff began to irritate me – and there’s also a fear or contempt of people there too. There was a phase when I ‘discovered’ the Chinese poets from the sixth and seventh centuries (I think!) Du Fu and Li Po and some others. I have no knowledge of Chinese, but the translations I enjoy most are the ones in free verse. I know that this doesn’t do justice to the versification in the originals, but in free verse, there is something very spare and stark about many of them. I enjoyed the translations by Arthur Waley, Kenneth Rexroth and Rewi Alley. I also like Bertolt Brecht’s poetry. I know a tiny bit of German so, if it comes in a bilingual edition, I feel I can get closer to the original sound. He was very direct and witty and ironic on social and political things and I enjoy that. I like the French surrealist poets in particular, Benjamin Peret and Jacques Prevert. More recently, the person who has done something to me is Raymond Carver. I think he writes a terrific soulful anecdotal and semi-tragic kind of poetry. That helped me recently. In terms of poets around, I love doing gigs with John Hegley, Roger McGough, Mr Social Control, Benjamin Zephaniah, Adrian Mitchell. I like what Ruth Padel does, and Jean Binta Breeze. They all seem to me to be people engaging with things around them both in themselves and outside of themselves. I always have a poetry book or two on the go in the loo. At the moment it’s John Hegley, Lavinia Greenlaw and Mahmood Darwish. Recently it’s been Carol Ann Duffy, and a wonderful little collection from the Tate Gallery of German Expressionist Poetry. I’ve enjoyed all these. One other: Erich Fried. A little known German poet, translated by Stuart Hood. He lived here from about 1945 (I think) until his death in the 1990s, wrote loads and loads but scarcely got published. I also love Shakespeare’s soliloquies for the way in which they reflect on action. I shouldn’t have left Tony Harrison until last but his personal and political poetry are amongst the best things I’ve read or heard.
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|Michelene Wandor||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I don’t really think of ‘influences’. I return to 17th century writing, for all sorts of reasons; my most recent enthusiasm is the work of Philip Pullman, a late twentieth-century landmark! I tend to go for writing which is very different from my own, so I am not sure I would be able to trace influences easily. That’s for other people to do.
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|Michelle Harrison||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Roald Dahl for his dark humour, Enid Blyton for her sense of adventure, Anne Cassidy for her grit and skilful story-weaving, and Julie Hearn for her prose
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|Mighty Erudite||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Always a tough question but one of the writers that I go back to again and again is John Fowles for his courage as a writer, no two of his books are the same and in my mind all are high art. Others include Pierre Peju, Kurt Vonnegut, Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer, Alan Paton, May Sarton, Jean Rhys and more and more! For poets I love Derek Mahon, W.H. Auden, Lorine Niedecker, Elizabeth Bishop, W.S. Graham, Robert Frost, Muriel Spark, John Betjeman. I’d love to keep going, just listing out the favourites has me thinking of more.
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|Milly Johnson||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Charlotte Bronte was my greatest classical influence because reading Jane Eyre had a profound effect on me when I was going through puberty and the saturnine Edward Rochester became the template for many of my heroes. I loved that the heroine was small and plain and I could identify with her so much, and that the hero was flawed and powerfully attractive without being classically handsome. And, once a teacher had shown me just how much fun Jane Austen had with her characters, and wasn’t the stuffy author I had previously thought, I fell in love with her books. Especially Persuasion – mainly because Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth came from the same mould as Jane and Rochester.
Moving forward – I love Marian Keyes for her comedy and warmth and it’s a huge thrill whenever I’m compared to her! I love Maggie O’Farrell very much and a host of ‘new writers’ like Jane Elmor, Louise Douglas and Lucie Whitehouse whose descriptive powers leave me stunned (and jealous). I also like darker authors such as Sophie Hannah, Mo Hayder and Nicci French for their amazing ability to keep me turning pages – though I hate them with a passion for leaving me feeling bereft when I’ve finished their books.
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|Neil Forsyth||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
A small selection: Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, Nigel Tranter, George MacDonald Fraser, Irvine Welsh. Irvine Welsh endorsed Other People’s Money – a thrilling development that arrived in Welshian manner, if there’s such a term. A guy I knew from nights out in Edinburgh mentioned in passing that he knew Irvine. I gave him an advance copy the next day and didn’t think much more about it, then a few weeks later an unexpected and generous email came through from Irvine complete with a quote for the cover.
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|Neil J Hart||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Douglas Coupland is a living god. I read his books as if they were bibles. I’ll read pretty much anything but I always get the latest Terry Pratchett book as he was the first author I got into when I was sixteen and reading proper books. I love the work of Clive Barker, Bret Easton Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Scarlett Thomas, Phillip Pullman and David Mitchell. There’s an air of escapism and shifts in reality which I really love.
Music plays an important part of my writing too. I have loads of playlists on my iTunes for writing different types of scenes and characters. I find that creating the right atmosphere in the room is essential for connecting emotionally with the characters and scenes. I’ll light incense too if I think it’ll help.
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|Nick Griffiths||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Bruce Robinson of Withnail & I fame. Why? Because his writing exudes a love of the language. You don't speak his lines, you enunciate them. And because he has a fabulous sense of humour, awash with the eccentricities of England
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|Nick Stafford||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I tend to like pieces of work rather than a writer’s body of work. The last piece I read that really was completely absorbing was HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rossoff. I like Jean Rhys, a lot, and H.G.Wells. I remember Pinter being “out of fashion” for a while. I can’t think why. I tuned into the World service one night and caught a production of The Dumb Waiter – I think Colin Blakely was in it – and it was riveting. Another seminal experience occurred was when I was about thirteen. I lived in a little village. The nearest cinema was seven miles away. I caught the bus and took myself off to see Nick Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW. I’ve no idea why I did this. I remember feeling quite different after I’d seen it. And it was a secret. I didn’t know anyone to whom I could talk about it.
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|Nicky Singer||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
In my childhood it was Enid Blyton (yes, ginger beer and all, I wolfed it down) and C.S. Lewis (my J.K. Rowling, couldn’t wait to get the next one) and then about everything Agatha Christie ever wrote (I credit her and Enid for the importance I attach to pace in a story) and then Wuthering Heights (which I read about 20,000 times and was still in love with Heathcliff afterwards) then in my late teens Virginia Woolf and my early twenties, Simone De Beauvoir (especially She Came to Stay – though I hated the Fontana cover so much, I covered it with parcel tape), then a raft more feminist stuff – because I was slow to catch on (Lessing’s The Golden Notebook was seminal for me) – and then, McEwan and William Trevor and more recently Irene Nemirovsky and Khaled Hosseini. Each of these authors spoke to me at a particular time in my life. I like to think of books as immutable, but I don’t think they are, I think they change as you change. So if I read De Beauvoir now, or Woolf, I don’t think they’d necessarily have the same resonance. Mind you, Heathcliff probably would….
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|Nik Perring||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Crikey! Now there’s a question! Far too many to mention. I have to say that I tend to go in for stories, rather than individual writers. The ones that come to mind as I type this are people like Alice Walker (The Color Purple), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveller’s Wife) Maggie O’Farrell (The Distance Between Us), John Wyndham (The Day of the Triffids) C.S Lewis, L.Frank Baum, L.M. Montgomery and pretty much anything by The Brothers Grimm… The list goes on! I like Neil Gaiman and lots of Native American writing as well.
Actually, two big non-author influences would have to be the late and very great Joe Strummer and Sugar Ray Robinson.
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|Patricia Cumper||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
A difficult one. This changes all the time, but my all time list would have to be Waiting for Godot, Ti Jean and his Brothers (Derek Walcott), Death of a Salesman and Raisin in the Sun.
Godot because I think Beckett writes about those moments in our lives that most of us find beyond words.
Ti Jean because it is a wonderful allegory for the post colonial Caribbean.
Death of a Salesman because it celebrates the heroism of the ordinary.
Raisin because of the prescience of the political and social analysis it contains.
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|Patrick Dillon||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
That’s hard because I read a lot of very different kinds of work. Among current and recent historians I admire Roy Porter for the energy and passion of his writing, N A M Rodger and Diarmaid MacCulloch for their skill in transmitting complex ideas to non-specialists, and Tom Holland for the way he opened a whole area of the past that you’d never have thought could never be made popular. I have a lingering admiration for Winston Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples. It has its overblown moments, but the panache of the writing is irresistible, and his judgments are far more balanced and acute than many might expect.
I fell in love with writing, though, before I fell in love with history, and have been through more favourite writers than I can now remember. Dickens was the first, and is probably the most enduring. When I was writing The Much-Lamented Death of Madam Geneva I spent two years reading only from the eighteenth century, and fell in love not only with Fielding, but with Smollett and Richardson, the former for his wit, the second for his forensic understanding of character. Perhaps more than either I admire Defoe. His writing is so full of energy, and versatile. You get the impression of somebody writing as fast as he can think.
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|Paul Reed||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Undoubtedly Irvine Welsh and anything from the Clocktower press— Duncan McLean, Gordon Legge, Alison Kermack, etc. They all write in a style that hits home. It's real life to me. Irvine Welsh especially because he comes from the same housing scheme [Muirhouse] that I've lived in all my days.
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|Peter Robertson||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
There’s no one writer I adulate or strive to emulate. I have read widely, and in several languages, and I’m sure I’ve been influenced by certain writers without realizing it. Obviously if you are too influenced by a particular writer, you run the risk of producing work that is derivative. But with regard to literary influences, it is hard to say which have been predominant as so much absorption is subliminal.
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|Poolbeg Press||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
It is difficult to single out individual authors on the list – but looking at this year schedule there is certainly a great mix of writing styles and storylines – I really like Claire Allan’s ability to mix great humour with dark realism, she is not unlike Marian Keyes in that way. I love the quirky familiarity of Sharon Owens, the originality of Anna McPartlin, the welcome humour of newcomer Emma Hannigan’s Designer Genes.
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|Preethi Nair||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I love magical realists especially South American writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabelle Allende.
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|Rebecca Connell||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
In my teens, Agatha Christie inspired my murder mystery efforts; I loved her books, and still see them as comfort reading when I’m tired or run down. As I got a bit older, I started reading a lot of writers who are traditionally seen as quite misogynist: Martin and Kingsley Amis, Julian Barnes, David Lodge. I love all their work and don’t see it as anti-female at all, although a tutor once cryptically told me at university that my concept of feminism was like no other she had ever come across, so I’m not sure that my perception can be trusted on that one. Although I’m not sure that people would necessarily link my style to those writers, I think I’ve taken a lot from them in terms of emotional honesty, and I still find it easier to write male narratives than female ones. I also love Maggie O’Farrell, Zoe Heller and Patrick Gale.
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|Rebecca Strong||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I prefer contemporary literary fiction, though again I try to read works from a range of authors and not stick to one type of writing. Writers I admire include Lionel Shriver, Bret Easton Ellis, Zadie Smith and Margaret Atwood: I love the way they develop characters and the psychology of relationships in their work.
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|Ron Morgans||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I was first set alight by Conrad, Mailer, Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald. I thought Greene and Maugham were awe inspiring. Lisa Alther’s Kin-Flicks and Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels showed me there were alternative ways to write. As a young man I imagined myself in a flat overlooking the sea, writing my novels (perhaps fighting bulls in between). I was a romantic.
Later I envied Carl Hiaasen and John Irving’s light touch and wanted to emulate it. Now on a long flight I’ll re-read Herodotus or The Iliad because they turn me on. But I know I’m a tabloid, fast read populist writer. I have no pretentions to being otherwise.
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|Rosy Barnes||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Mervyn Peake, Peter Hoeg, Douglas Adams, Joseph Conrad and Graham Oakley (the Church Mice Books).
In prose, I love bigness and boldness in writing coupled with telling detail. My favourite book is Gormenghast – which is hugely funny in a dark and miserable sort of way - and whilst I can’t claim it has a direct influence on SM4A, there is a certain love of long, labyrinthine sentences that are knowingly over the top, qualification-upon-embroidery, along with an unapologetic use of a strong authorial voice – it is as though Peake gave me permission to play with all those things in my own work - even though it's a completely different sort of thing.
A lot of my comedy influences are in performance or are written scripts. I particularly love spiky female performers like Julia Davis and the writing of writer/director Annie Griffin and other contemporary comedy like Peep Show and Flight of the Conchords. I also like reading comedians’ writing like Woody Allen or Bill Hicks.
I aspire to get an element of “delivery” into my written work – although, it’s very much to be read on the page. The challenge of how to phrase something to carry a sense of timing and delivery is something that fascinates and frustrates me in equal measure.
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|Rosy Thornton||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I am a terrible example, here, because they always say you should write what you like to read and I don’t. I rather shocked my editor when she discovered I had never read any of the people she regards as ‘the competition’ (with the extremely honourable exception, oddly enough of Lammi/Kate!)
I read some literary fiction, some crime, some humour, bit of this, bit of that, but almost no chick lit. My favourite authors (apart from Gaskell and Jane Austen and George Eliot) are Barbara Trapido, Kate Atkinson, Michael Frayn, Jonathan Coe, Donna Leon….. I like funny, I like warm, and I like writing that is clever and sings.
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|Sally Nicholls||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I love children’s books; that’s one reason why I write for kids. I love Hilary McKay – especially Saffy’s Angel – Frank Cotrell Boyce, Lucy Boston, Mary Norton, Noel Streatfield, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Rudyard Kipling – particularly The Jungle Book and Puck of Pook’s Hill – Watership Down, Skellig, The Eagle of the Ninth … My top five children’s books are The Secret Garden, The Little Prince, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Borrowers and Ballet Shoes.
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|Sally Zigmond||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I can’t say that any one writer has influenced me or that I have any particular favourite writers. I read more novels written by women, not through any conscious gender choice, but because women tend to write the kind of novels I prefer to read! Having said that, there are plenty of male writers who understand women—Thomas Hardy is a classic example.
I love Rose Tremain, Helen Dunmore, Anita Shreve, Kate Atkinson and Juliet Myerson but I don’t restrict myself to my favourites and will pick up anything that catches my eye. I also read a wide variety of fiction for review but for preference I read historical fiction. I don’t read a lot of crime although I have read every one of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.
And my secret indulgence is reading the Jim Stringer-railway detective historical novels by Andrew Martin. They’re set in ‘my’ part of Yorkshire and are very, very funny.
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|Sara Maitland||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My most important literary influence (in terms of language as well as themes) is The Authorised Version of the Bible. In terms of narrative it has all the strengths of a good Soap. It has seriousness of intent, global reach, a vast cast and a huge range of styles, moods and moments. In addition it is dense with myth and magic and it has the most beautiful, complex, powerful prose and poetry. (Also it stands against the modern delusion that committees can’t write lovely language. This is important to me as a socialist feminist who goes on believing that the collective – even in writing – is likely to be stronger and richer than the individual.)
Otherwise I like books that take up in their own way that kind of passion for the hugeness of things – George Eliot, Dostoyevski and Melville. And among more contemporary writers, Margaret Lawrence, Salmon Rushdie, Marquez. Stylistically increasingly influenced by some of my younger contemporaries who are doing such bold things about bringing magical realism home to domestic British life – Paul Magrs and Ray Robinson for example.
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|Sarah Salway||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Who are your favourite writers/influences and why?
I’ll tell you about my two American Alices – Alice Duer Miller, who was writing both political satire and cheesy Hollywood scripts in the 20s and 30s, and who showed me I could experiment with genre and style. Secondly, Alice Elliott Dark, who is very much a writer for today, and who, because she is my friend now, keeps challenging me to concentrate less on craft and more on writing about what I believe in. Without her, I might have gone down the path of beautifully arranged pieces with little authenticity. Better to have it raw, if a little clumsy.
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|Sarah Stovell||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan (sometimes), Emily Bronte, Raymond Carver, Toni Morrison, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, John Keats, John Donne, Shakespeare.
Jeepers. No one outside the canon, it would seem. I’m too straight. Erm . . . . Luisa Plaja. There.
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|Sean Costello ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I read everything Paul Auster publishes because there is something about his prose style that commands attention and makes you willingly suspend disbelief no matter how outlandish his plots become. Tobias Wolff is a great short story writer, whose work is full moments of revelation that just stop you in your tracks. I am looking forward very much to reading his first novel, which has just come out. I have discovered a number of writers in the past year or so who were new to me and whose work I’ll be looking out for in future, among them Dan Rhodes (Timoleon Vieta Come Home), DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little) and Ben Rice (Pobby and Dingan).
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|Shahrukh Husain||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
They change all the time – and often I like just one or two books by an author – so I suppose I’m saying I have favourite books rather than favourite authors. And then I have this odd thing about really engaging with the content or story-value of a book and not being particularly impressed with the telling – or vice versa. But Coelho (the Alchemist), Allende (House of the Spirits), Angela Carter’s Magic Toyshop, Zara Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Grimms Fairytales, the (Urdu) poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Iqbal. I still fantasize about dipping into Oscar Wilde for fun, but I rarely have time. Favourite non-fiction books include Marie-Louise von Franz’s Introduction to an Interpretation of Fairytales and Shadow and Evil in Fairytales, also Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment and Erich Neumann’s The Great Mother.
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|Shearsman||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Favourite writers and why?
Williams, for his use of the demotic; Pound & Bunting for their compression – both were inveterate users of the blue pencil; Gustaf Sobin for his ecstatic language and his blending of French and American influences; Celan for the ultimate in compression; Huidobro & Vallejo for opening up new ways of seeing that just don’t exist in English (that goes for Celan too). I’m a big fan of two contemporary Mexican poets too, Gloria Gervitz and Elsa Cross, both of whom strike me as major figures on an international scale. I published Gervitz’s epic poem Migrations in translation, and hope to publish a Selected Poems by Cross within the next 18 months. Of the classics, Shakespeare, Herrick, Donne, Coleridge, and many, many more.
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|Shelley Weiner||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I always dread this question. When it’s put during a reading/discussion panel, my mind tends to go blank and I feel so stupid. When I started writing fiction, I immersed myself in writers’ diaries and notebooks – Woolf, Fitzgerald, Kundera, etc etc – which taught me an awful lot about how they worked, what they were trying to say. It never occurred to me to join a creative writing class – there weren’t that many around – so this was my ‘training’. I’ve always read widely and voraciously, which has given me a sense of having a solid base from which to write. I think that, when I started, my style seemed to be affected by what I was reading, which taught me to avoid reading fiction while I was writing it. These days I’m less directly affected, but I also feel myself less passionately involved with what I’m reading. I feel quite sad about this. Not sure if it’s to do with me (a kind of ennui?) or what’s currently being published. Latterly, I’ve gathered together a group of friends and we’ve gone back to some classic works for inspiration: Dostoevsky, Mansfield, Graham Greene.
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|Shika||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourites are Claire Etcherelli; Salman Rushdie, Doris Lessing; Anne Michaels; Nadine Gordimer Rohinton Mistry, Amy Tan, Ben Okri, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Benjamin Zephaniah; Lemn Sissay. I admire African American performance poets for their lyrical content. Their work reminds me of village call and response rhythms back in Ghana.
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|Sion Scott-Wilson||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
John Kennedy Toole: Confederacy of Dunces. Ignatius O' Reilly. Most
gorgeous anti-hero ever created. There's a very respectful nod to him
in my own novel.
JP. Donleavy. I lived my life at university like the Ginger Man. My
21st Birthday was spent in the dock at Exeter Crown Court.
I was of course, acquitted.
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|Slightly Foxed ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I am a sucker for autobiographies, memoirs and diaries, and the kind of travel writing that makes you feel you are actually there with the author and experiencing a place with them. There are so many good memoirs it’s hard to pick any out, but recently I’ve particularly enjoyed Philip Norman’s Babycham Night, Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation (how could they have used that title for the film?). I love classics such as Lark Rise to Candleford and Kilvert’s Diary and brilliant comic writers, such as Evelyn Waugh. Gail enjoys travel literature too – Jan Morris especially - but also really good biography such as Elizabeth Longford’s Wellington, both serious and comic fiction (she rereads Cold Comfort Farm far too often), crime, books about the land and the sea, Hobson-Jobson . . . the list is frankly too long to give here. She also has a weakness for the lowbrow but hugely entertaining – everything from E.M. Delafield’s diary of a provincial lady and Dorothy Dunnett to Georgette Heyer and John Buchan.
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|Smith Browne||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I could name a litany of poets who are favourites or influences, but I shall settle on a tight, neat list of those who are foremost in my mind these past few years: Ruth Padel, Sharon Olds, Catherine Smith, W. H. Auden.
Most of my poetic influences are alive and British. Because of the route my writing life has taken, I came to writing poetry late, at 35 years old, just about the time I came to live in the UK. In that sense Britain herself can be said to be my greatest poetic influence, for it is here that I came to take poetry seriously and to develop as both a reader and a writer of poems.
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|Snow Books 2||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Nabokov and Asimov. Weird mix, I know. Nabokov for his immaculate, brilliant use of language. Asimov for his imagination.
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|Sol B River||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Beckett: His mood as a writer means a lot to me, I admire his perception and execution. His profound but acute examination of society makes me wonder
Ibsen: For his timelessness and romantic knowlede of the dramatic world.
Mamet: For dialogue, for the repetitiveness he executes in some of his work, and how naturally that repetition represents real thought process, that then develops into dialogue we can believe in.
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|Stella Duffy||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
People who play with words, value words, play with form, and write good, real characters. I am far more interested in character than plot, though I do realise a good book needs both! A huge array of writers : Janet Frame (read the novels!! not just the autobiography), Margaret Atwood, Shakespeare, Marge Piercy, Jeanette Winterson, Russell Hoban, Patricia Grace, Armisted Maupin, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickenson, Tennessee Williams.
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|Steve Feasey||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I love so many different writers and genres, and I’m always trying to find something new. I love the works of my childhood favourites: Stephenson, Kipling, and Blyton. And then there are the sci-fi and fantasy writers that I discovered in my teens. But as an adult I think that the three authors I most admire would be Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King and Donna Tartt. I think that they’re all great storytellers who aren't afraid to push the limits of their craft.
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|Steven Hague||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Well, I’m a sucker for great American crime fiction, and I have been since I was in my early teens (it accounts for something like 80% of all the books that I read), so I have a long list of favourite authors, but for brevities sake I’ll mention just three;
First, Robert Crais, for his excellent plotting, and strong dynamic between his two principal characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.
Second, Andrew Vachss, for his tough protagonist, the urban survivalist, Burke, his unsurpassed knowledge of the gutter (both urban and human), and his razor sharp black humour.
And third, James Ellroy, the demon dog himself, for his refusal to compromise in anything he does, and for being the man who gave us L.A. Confidential and American Tabloid.
And I also draw inspiration from quality American cop shows – stuff like The Shield and The Wire – which I’m told has helped to give my writing a cinematic quality.
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|Sue Moorcroft||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My all-time favourite novel is A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. I love everything he wrote and have the whole collection on a shelf in front of me, now. But ‘Alice’ was something special and it was through that book, one of the first adult novels I read (aged 9), that I learnt how to fall in love with a hero. Nevil Shute books are great comfort reads for me and I love to have forgotten one of his books sufficiently that I can enjoy the rereading. Although many of his characters are dated (he died the year before I was born, so that’s not surprising) and so are his writing structures, such as writing a story within a frame, they are characters that remain with me.
Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances are almost as dear to me, again because of the heroes, but also because the characters make me laugh. And they all fall in love, of course.
In contemporary writers, I look for a story that sucks me in – and that is usually a romantic story. I love Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, Judy Astley, Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, Mary Balogh, Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich etc. I used to read a lot of crime, too, but haven’t been so interested in the past couple of years. I suppose I don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable. I have a two or three book a week habit.
I write the same kind of books that I like to read – entertaining and, I hope, involving, with a strong central love story. Yet I include real issues. My heroines aren’t bits of fluff – cross them at your peril.
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|Tania Hershman||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My favourite writers change over time, I keep finding new ones who influence me at a certain point and help me open up my own writing. Ali Smith and Lorrie Moore inspire me immensely, with their non-traditional approaches to short stories. Their stories, to me, are everything that makes short fiction magical and entirely different from the novel. And being taught by Ali on a second Arvon course was a fantastic experience, she is not only a great writer but a generous and talented teacher. As editor of The Short Review, a few months ago I reviewed a collection by an author I had never heard of: All Over, by Roy Kesey. His writing is spare, minimalist, often surreal. Less is most definitely more. He makes the reader work, he doesn't spoon-feed information. And this somehow “allowed” me to try that with my own writing. The first story I wrote after reviewing his collection won first prize in the Biscuit Flash Fiction competition. So I strongly believe in the power of reading to inspire.
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|The Ephemera||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
This is a very difficult question to answer. There are certainly many types of writing that do not interest us but it seems unfriendly to catalogue them here. We feel certain that entertainment in art must be derived from engaging the reader directly through form, content and style - Yes we want to be entertained, but most of all we seek engagement on terms dictated solely by the writer through his or her work
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|The Greenhouse||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Judy Blume because she got it so right. Steven King because he’s so scary. I’ve got broad taste in children’s books. Julie Hearn, Captain Underpants, The Spook’s Apprentice books, Stephenie Meyer, Young Bond. These are books I’ve read and liked in the last few months. Favourite book ever is probably The Count of Monte Christo. I read it every few years and it keeps getting better.
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|The Lady||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
The Lady doesn’t have favourite writers. There are writers of short stories who send in their work on a regular basis, and often get their work published. They have read the magazine closely and know what we like! We’ve had stories by Ruth Rendell and Maeve Binchy in The Lady, so there have been some top authors in the magazine.
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|Tibor Fischer||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
All sorts. Lots of Americans: JD Salinger, Tom Wolfe, Tom Robbins, Charles Willeford. I did a degree in French, so the usual suspects: Flaubert, Moliere, Céline. My favourite Hungarian writer is Sándor Márai. I suppose the writers you admire most are those who’ve done things you’d like to have done.
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|Tim Lott||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
George Orwell, fairy tales, Greek Myths, american novelists like John Updike, Saul Bellow, Tom Wolfe and Joan Didion. All are wonderful storytellers, and write – for the most part – in plain, direct language.
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|Tony McGowan||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Catch 22 was the book that first made me want to write a novel. I read it as a seventeen year old, and was totally hooked by the mix of gravity and levity, the intellectual playfulness, the tragedy. Around the same time I began working my way through all the novels of Anthony Burgess, who has probably influenced my style more than any other writer. Shame nobody reads him anymore. My next big influence was Rabelais, fifteenth century French monk, philosopher and smut merchant. I’ve endlessly pillaged his Gargantua and Pantagruel for dirty ideas. Before that I was a huge Tolkien fan. Between the ages of nine and eighteen I read the Lord of the Rings over and over again. I’ve been reading it to my 10-year old son, and I’d forgotten its power and beauty. Forgotten also how much of my own style was borrowed from the master.
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|Trilby Kent||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I love South African writing – particularly Nadine Gordimer’s early work and André Brink. I also have a soft spot for Southern Gothic – anything by Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote, Patricia Highsmith (I think she counts, as she was born in Texas and there are so many wonderful grotesques in her writing), to name a few. I’m currently going through a mid-century phase, having discovered Maude Hutchins. I love quirky, edgy writers such as Stevie Smith, Muriel Spark and Colette. My PhD supervisor is Philip Hensher, who’s a very smart guy; I really admire his versatility as a writer. As a historical novelist, I love Rose Tremain and Ian McEwan. As a journalist, I have a huge admiration for Donald Woods. I could go on..!
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|Tumbleweed TV||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Film - Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot), Pedro Almodóvar (Volver), Anthony Minghella (English Patient, Talented Mr Ripley). Recent indie films I admire: My Summer of Love, Little Miss Sunshine, Thank You For Smoking, Fast Food Nation.
Novels – John Irving, Paul Auster, Angela Carter, Peter Carey, Italo Calvino. They all write brilliantly and have some aspect of quirkiness/weirdness to their stories, which intrigues me. I also enjoy reading Alexander McCall Smith for his sly humour and deceptively simple prose.
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|Unthank Books||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Don DeLillo – because every sentence seems unique and carries a world of meaning.
Cormac McCarthy – because it’s a masterclass in the appreciation of the power of language.
Kurt Vonnegut- for formal invention, sanity and laughs.
J.G. Ballard – for making the world strange and yet familiar at the same time
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|Vanessa Curtis||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I like to get inside the heads of famous writers by reading their journals: the diaries of Virginia Woolf have to be my favourite books of all-time. Not only do they provide a fantastic social history (covering the years 1915-1941) but they also give a unique insight into the hazards of a writing life. All the insecurities we have as writers, the observations we make about people around us, the effect that external events have upon our internal thought processes are here, recorded in Woolf’s ruthlessly honest and self-deprecating words. Writers who have managed to write despite crippling depression intrigue me: the diaries of Antonia White are painfully raw on the subject of her writer’s block. And Sylvia Plath’s endless fascination with herself coupled with the agony of getting the words out onto the page horrifies and comforts me in equal measures. I read/review a fair amount of contemporary novels too: I admire and enjoy the fiction of Helen Dunmore – her children’s prose is breathtaking and she has that rare ability to take any period of time in history and time-travel, making it absolutely believable.
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|Vanessa Gebbie||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Jeepers, how long have you got? OK. Carver, Updike, Jim Crace, E. Annie Proulx, A S Byatt, Italo Calvino, Andrew Miller, William Trevor, Dylan Thomas, Frank McCourt, Alice Munro, W G Sebald. Among a zillion others.
Why? Because they have strong ‘voices’. Because they transport me as a reader and inspire me as a writer. Because they ‘do their own thing’, break the rules sometimes and sod the rest of the world. I like that. It’s very liberating.
But the person who has been the strongest influence on what I do and how I approach writing is the controversial tutor and writer Alex Keegan. I haven’t studied with him for nearly two years, but the discipline I learned from him is with me every day.
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|View and Hiss||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Paul Torday and Julian Barnes to name a couple. They know their craft and they know how people work and how to leave space for the characters to connect with me and not just charge through a story hitting plot points.
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|William Coles||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I have loads of them. I read the books of Stephen Fry; or Philip Pullman, or Eoin Colfer, and I think, "That is truly brilliant." C.S.Forester, David Lodge, George MacDonald Fraser, Robert Harris, Bernard Cornwell. I dip into all sorts of fiction, am constantly ferreting through www.Abebooks.com for out-of-print books . But two authors who I think are right out of the top drawer are the children's writer Geraldine McCaughrean and Robert Twigger. Twigger is not especially mainstream, but he has a huge cult following. I devour every word that he writes.
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|William Sutton||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
My early heroes were Joyce, Beckett (my parents are Irish) and Kafka. It took me a long time to realise that their ambitious techniques weren’t necessarily a good influence: we only keep reading difficult books (and studying them and writing about them) if the stories are good enough in the first place.
I’ve learnt a lot about stories from reading Alasdair Gray, Iain Banks and Paul Auster obsessively. I love the humour and ideas in Douglas Adams, and Woody Allen.
Books I keep going back to are The Great Gatsby, Candide, Gulliver’s Travels, Zorba the Greek, Trainspotting: fantastic fables, with ironical narrative voices, unmistakable angles. Other great books: The Waves, Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, and The Odyssey: great shapes, conflicts, characters.
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|Writer's Muse||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I know I should reel off a litany here: classical authors, popular culture idols, mainstream names. But.
There are too many, probably, to mention in one sitting but I think the following expands on what I said earlier about what excites and interests me. Structure, style, plotting etc. are nothing if there’s no idea. I always gravitate towards the ideas and imagination in pieces.
The man I would have difficulty faulting, if it came down to sheer imagination, is Philip K. Dick. His ideas stretched my mind in all directions. He is, to me, the ultimate practitioner in those words that every good writer should ask about everything: “What if…?”
Alan Garner, erroneously labelled a “children’s writer”, is a favourite. His ideas, again, extended my thinking and made me realise that you can go anywhere in your head – and take willing passengers with you. He researches methodically and will spend, literally, years plotting before creating a work.
Isaac Asimov was always a hero. He was highly prolific and his stories were always logical, in context with the genre, and simply enjoyable. He made difficult subjects easy to understand and still kept them enjoyable.
Iain Banks (or Iain M. Banks depending on which genre he writes) is another choice. He can take a simple life, tale or premise and produce startling, convoluted, consequences and results. His work, Complicity, contains several chapters written in second person narrative – fairly rare. I also have a friend who changed his degree from science to the arts after reading a ‘Hook’ from a Banks’ novel (“It was the day my grandmother exploded.”). Follow that!
A possibly lesser-known choice is Charles Higson (Charlie Higson, co-writer of The Fast Show). He’s written only a handful of novels but they caught my imagination because of their disturbing content, sometimes tortuous plotting and dark humour.
I could go on: Ursula K. Le Guin, the subject of my degree dissertation, for instance. Of course I like some mainstream, established, writers. I like Dickens, Hardy, Steinbeck, Salinger, many ‘classical’ writers. Martin Amis produced Time’s Arrow and fell into my ‘favourite’ pile immediately. The list does go on!
Fortunately for your readers, perhaps I shouldn’t.
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|Writer's News||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Like most people, a pretty mixed bag: Richmal Crompton is on the list, because of her hero, ‘Just’ William Brown, who battles against crushing odds for the right to wear crumpled socks and dusty boots and live on cream buns and liquorice water; Rudyard Kipling for ‘Kim’; Kenneth Grahame for ‘Wind in the Willows; Charles Dickens, especially for ‘Great Expectations’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Pickwick Papers’; Sebastian Faulks; Robert Harris (especially for ‘Fatherland’; I am looking forward to ‘Pompeii’ coming out in paperback in April); Paul Theroux for ‘Riding the Iron Rooster’ and the ‘Great Railway Bazaar’), Isabel Allende (‘The House of the Spirits’ etc).
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|Zocalo||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Adam: I find such questions pretty intimidating. I always feel in a state of flux concerning my preferences. Right now I’m reading a lot of non-fiction: the writings of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Darran has just got me onto Krishnamurti, for which I’m very grateful. I guess I grew up into literature with the Beats and I still have a lot of affection for them, although I haven’t read them for a while. Salinger’s work – apart from Catcher – is unjustly ignored in my opinion, particularly the stories “Franny” and “Raise High The Roof Beam Carpenters”. Who else? Henry Miller, certainly, and not just the “Tropics”, and two of his mentors Blaise Cendrars and Celine. Moby Dick completely bowled me over too. I’ll stop there, I think.
Darran: Again, different at different times. D.H.Lawrence, Nietzsche, Hermann Hesse, Henry Miller, to name a few, are longstanding favourites. Recently I’ve been reading and been greatly impressed by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. Also Krishnamurti (not really an author) and Ted Hughes. If I look for something these writers have in common I might suggest an occupation with something besides writing, something more important – life perhaps, which the writing serves but to which it is finally incidental. There are more things than writing and literature, and culture finally can be a swaddling, stymieing oppressor.
Adeline: Some of my favourites include Keri Hulme, Anna Kavan, Kate Atkinson, Angela Carter, Greg Egan… “Steppenwolf” by Herman Hesse is probably one of my favourite books. As far as poetry is concerned, I think Ted Hughes’ collection, “Crow” is amazing. Robert Browning was my introduction to poetry, and I also have a fondness for Elizabeth Browning.
Rob: William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Alfred Bester.
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|Zoe Fairbairns ||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I don't have favourite writers, just favourite books. If I am ever cast away on a desert island with my choice of books, they will include Vida by Marge Piercy, Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor, Movement by Valerie Miner, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, London Transports by Maeve Binchy, Polaris and other Stories by Fay Weldon, Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola.<br><br>
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|Zoe Lambert||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
I am influenced by a lot of contemporary women writers. For the short story form I’ve looked to A. L. Kennedy and Jackie Kay for voice and I’ve been influenced a lot by Ali Smith for form and structure. Margaret Atwood. I’ve cut the end off a story, like Chekov, and that seemed to work wonders.Also, Etgar keret, for his bus themes.
W.G Sebald, who was my tutor at UEA. I think he left an impression on all of us. I look to his work for a kind of ethics in writing about someone else’s experiences.
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|Zoe Williams||Who are your favourite writers and why? |
Who are your favourite writers/influences and why?
On this particular day, I have fallen in love with the work of Chris Bachelder, who’s this American guy writing new wave socialist comic fiction. Har Har! That’ll put you off him. I intend to keep him entirely to myself.
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