I have been inspired by several great writers over the years. Novels that have thrilled, challenged and raised the bar of what I think good writing is, currently sit well worn on my bookshelf. Many of these cherished adventures on paper have made their mark on nightstands and bags and backpacks. These tales have captured my imagination and spurred me on to tell tales of my own. I wanted to give a shout out to a few that, while they are no longer alive, left their mark on my writing.
The number one inspiration has been the late and the great Tom Clancy. The American Novelist past away in 2013 at the age of 66. He was a master of multiple genres, but it was his spy fiction, crime fiction, and military history that stood out to me. He will be remembered for best sellers that found their way on the silver screen like Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of all Fears. I admired the realism of his writing, the depth of the characters, fast pace and the research evident in the details. I started reading his work in middle school, devouring book after book. I certainly didn't fit his main demographic and got more than a few stares when I carried around one of his eight hundred page thrillers. I distinctly remember one conversation when I was 14 with a 50-year-old gentleman who remarked that the only people he has ever seen read that book were men who have all served in the armed forces for roughly the same amount of time that I had been alive. He asked if I wouldn't be happier reading some sappy vampire novel. I told him that there are no age or gender restrictions on good writing. Often I would read a Clancy novel at school. To my teachers' annoyance, I sometimes wouldn't put it down through the entire class period. My poor overworked and underpaid teacher asked me a question trying to make of point of what happens when you don't pay attention. I answer the question in more detail than he bargained for and went back to reading. My teacher gave up and went back to desperately trying to get 28 14-year-olds to care about wars in the Middle East. What I didn't tell my teacher was that I had spent the last two weeks studying everything I could get my hands on about the conflict in the Middle East so I could understand what on earth Tom Clancy was referencing in his novel.
No modern spy thriller would be where it was had it not been for the English author, Ian Fleming. Fleming is the mind behind the mega icon James Bond. The dashing, stylish and witty spy is what first turned my attention to genre. It is no easy task to create a character that has stood the test of time, or give inspiration to a film franchise that has lasted 50 years. So much has been said about Fleming over the years it's hard to say anything that is not redundant or simply pales in comparison to the words already penned about him. I will leave it at this: I owe much to the man who truly shaped a genre.
In my freshman year of high school, I walked into the school's library to find that the last copy of one of Clancy novels I was hoping to read was already checked out. The librarian handed me a book by Robert Ludlum, and I was hooked instantly. If I remember correctly I read it straight through lunch and didn't even notice until the bell rang for our next class. Robert Ludlum is best known for his Jason Bourne series. I loved the intrigue and the feel of his books. I was so impressed by the lines and some of the moves his characters made that it raised the bar of my own writing. Ludlum passed away in 2001 at the age of 73, leaving a legacy of 27 novels that have been published in 33 different languages and sold hundreds of millions of copies.
Several other writers left their mark on me in different ways, but that's a story for a diffrent time. Each of these men were literary giants in their own right. Their works have kept me on the edge of my seat for years and delighted millions. They have my gratitude and respect. God rest them.