With finishing my short stories (all spy- or detective-related), I decided to take a break from all the mysteries I’ve been reading lately and go back to my roots. This was partially inspired by the fact that I’m getting to loathe all fictional private detectives (except Sherlock Holmes, DUH), and partially because, to my surprise, some of my critique partners rattled off a few different writers whose style they could see had influenced me –
And not one of them was Lloyd Alexander.
Which quite frankly flabbergasted me, because for many years my writing style read like a composite of Lloyd Alexander and Brian Jacques, and Jacques only because he was so prolific that he infused my writing without me ever realizing it.
If there is one author I would aspire to write like, it’s Lloyd. So I’m picking up some of his books again and reminding myself of just what it is in his writing that I love so well, and make sure that I haven’t lost that in my own writing – not that I want to write in his voice entirely, of course, but that the same spirit breathes in my writing that lives in his.
I’m reading Westmark right now, which is the start of one of his less-popular series, but one that I love dearly. Then I’ll probably go on to the Vesper Holly books, for their sheer outrageous fun (oh how I love Brinnie; as a kid I wanted to identify most with Vesper, as an adult I have utter sympathy for Brinnie), and then we’ll see from there.
He breaks so many of the “rules” of writing, and yet his genius is such that it works. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go about breaking rules willy-nilly, but it does help me remember to hold them loosely, and if I have to choose between the story and the rules, GO WITH THE STORY.
It feels like visiting old friends, going back to Westmark and thinking about Vesper &co. I’m actually glad for an excuse to go back there, preferably with a cup of tea by my side.
(Mind, I’m not complaining about any of the writers that were mentioned as being obvious influences on my writing; they are all brilliant writers and have influences me in one way or another, but since Lloyd is the BIGGEST influence on me, I was just surprised that he didn’t make the list.)