Why I Wrote Eye of the Moon
September 12, 2017
Interview with author Nick Thacker
October 12, 2017

Interview with Ivan, Part 1

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? How have they influenced your work?

A: I have many because I read all the time. Modern authors I like are Len Deighton, Raymond Chandler, Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Wodehouse, J. K. Rowling, Proust, Erik Larson, Bill Bryson, Stieg Larsson, to name only a few. The ones I think who really had an effect on me, in terms of style, were Len Deighton, Raymond Chandler, Edith Wharton, Booth Tarkington, O. Henry and Jane Austen. There are probably others, but these last six I read over and over. They are old friends.

I would also mention Stephen King. He and I have had an uneasy relationship in that I don’t always like what he writes, but I will always pay attention to how he says it and the plots he uses. His On Writing is invaluable. The Dear Reader concept was key. My wife is my Dear Reader, and there is nothing I enjoy more than watching her read what I have written.

More important than the literary influences for me is the process of editing. I cannot overstress the importance of good editing for a writer’s education.

My dream has always been to enchant the reader. Sometimes that is not always possible. How does one enchant a reader with science or mathematics? I can try with my nonfiction articles, but I don’t think I’m always successful.

At the very least, I believe one should write clearly. As a craftsman that is what I strive for. One can, of course, by writing clearly see that one has clearly written nothing of substance, and that is strangely a benefit. One needs to rethink.

My guitar teacher told me a story of this guitarist working one night with a famous jazz band leader. The leader could have been Miles Davis but who exactly I can’t recall. He gave the guitarist a nod to take a solo and our guy just lit it up with runs, legatos, pull-offs, all at lightning speed. It was a virtuoso performance. After only twenty seconds of this the maestro took the solo back and gave it to someone else. The guitarist was upset. He had played solo barely at all, while this other not-as-accomplished musician was given a solo for at least a couple of minutes, if not longer.

He asked the leader what was the matter with his playing. His answer was, “You didn’t say anything. If I’m going to give you a voice you better say something with it.”

He asked the leader what was the matter with his playing. His answer was, “You didn’t say anything. If I’m going to give you a voice you better say something with it.”

There is much wisdom in that story no matter the instrument you use. Whether it’s the voice, words, paint, or sushi, you must say something with the medium.

As a writer, I have a thought that I keep I in mind: if it doesn’t say a thing, you don’t have that swing, clearly put or not.

As a writer, I have a thought that I keep I in mind: if it doesn’t say a thing, you don’t have that swing, clearly put or not.

The writer’s job is to do both: have something to say, say it clearly.


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3 Comments

  1. Silvia says:

    Good to know which writers you have read and admire. I am familiar with some of these writers, but I have no idea of Len Deighton, Raymond Chandler, Edith Wharton, Booth Tarkington, so I may take a peak at their books one of these days.

    What is their style? Novel, fiction…could you tell me a bit about it?

    Ah, but my favorite ones are Ken Follett, Wilbur Smith, Stephen Zweig, Margaret George and of course Alejandro Dumas and several others too.

    Good blog, super professional web pages and good luck with your book.

    Silvia

    • Hi Silvia,
      Thank you for your comment. In answer to your question, they are fiction writers. Len Deighton is probably one of the best writers of the spy genre of the 20th century. I read him for his dialogues, characters, and his humor which is dry and amusing. Raymond Chandler’s dialogues and character developments are superb. Edith Wharton and O’Henry are masters of the twist ending, a format I really enjoy. O’Henry wrote short stories, while Wharton’s Ethan From left me wonderfully surprised. I suppose the two things these authors have in common are plot twists and wonderful dialogues. Booth Tarkington was another early 20th century American author who wrote about the Midwest in mostly small town America. My favorites are his three books about Penrod, a child growing up at the time and the extraordinary things he gets into. All are worth reading and helped shape how I write.

  2. […] first part of this interview covers Ivan’s favorite authors and their influence on his […]

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