Archive for the ‘novels’ category

New Tom Clancy Thriller Draws On All Forces

April 9, 2010

I was pleasantly surprised recently to hear that Tom Clancy is finally publishing another book after seven years of silence from his camp. Although he claims that he has never actually seen a classified government document, he will gain much help and insider info from his co-writer, US Navy veteran Grant Blackwood, who had previously spent time on a guided missile frigate.

With as much publicity as he garners, coupled with the controversial military topics he picks, it’s hard to ignore Clancy. Reading through a few interviews, I was very interested to note who he nominates as his influences, as well as how some of his most famous readers have reacted to his work.

Clancy deeply admires the works of a number of British writers and lists Frederick Forsyth and Alfred Hitchcock at the top of the ranks. In an interview, he firmly stated, “Were I to pick a single decisive influence, it would be Freddy Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal,” going on to say that it is probably the best thriller ever written and that it has redefined the genre. From Hitchcock, he learnt how to create the characters that legions of faithful readers have come to love and cheer on.

Speaking of faithful readers, it amused me to no end to find this quote by the Former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who mentioned, “A lot of what I know about warfare I learnt from reading Tom [Clancy].” Even Ronald Reagan is a fan as documented by his wife, Nancy Reagan: “Ronnie especially enjoys history, biography and the novels of […] Tom Clancy.” But not everyone is  a fan. In an interview, another previous US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice showed her disapproval of Clancy’s work and fictitious US military warfare by saying, “No-one [but Clancy] could have imagined [terrorists] taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon … [or] into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile…”

Love him or hate him, there’s always much to be said about Tom Clancy. Know of any more famous readers? Have your say on his infloox page!

Hollywood vs. Lewis Carroll with “Alice in Wonderland”

March 12, 2010

Tim Burton’s extension of Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic, Alice in Wonderland, is sweeping across theatres and garnering rave reviews. It certainly did catch our attention too, and made me wonder about the link of influences upon artists.

Lewis Carroll has traditionally been a major influence within the English-speaking world, no doubt because in some way or another, we have all encountered his works from an early age. Even Queen Victoria was a fan! But by far, it was Alice in Wonderland that garnered the most attention across the board, ranging from Tolkien to Bette Middler.

Carroll wrote during the mid-1800s, but his work was so fantastical that even now in 2010, it remains timeless and accessible. His influence on Tim Burton is quite plain to see in Burton’s latest blockbuster, which casts Alice as a grown-up version of herself. Joining Tim Burton is music composer Danny Elfman, who he commonly collaborates with, as well as actors Johnny Depp (in which will now be his seventh film with Burton) and Helena Bonham-Carter (Burton’s romantic partner whom he now has a son with), who has also worked in a numer of Burton’s films. The influence on each other is constant, each artist feeding off the other’s works. Ultimately, it remains to be seen what future spark of inspiration this latest vision of Alice might create in someone else.

Want to know more? Visit the infloox site to see how many other inter-artist connections you can find.

Elizabeth Gilbert on her favourite books

February 23, 2010

Since the release of Eat, Pray, Love in 2006, Elizabeth Gilbert was catapulted into a household name overnight. Now readers can dip into the sequel, Committed, as Gilbert continues her memoir of her worldwide adventures.

From her background as a magazine short story writer (anyone remember Coyote Ugly?), Gilbert cites a sizeable list of authors and books as influences, both stylistic and in terms of content. From her earliest roots, she remembers the Wizard of Oz (the book!). She went so far as to say, “I am a writer today because I learned to love reading as a child—and mostly on account of the Oz books. … If you have a child and a lap, you really should own the entire set.”

Topping her adult reading list by far is Charles Dickens: Bleak House and David Copperfield rank amongst her favourites. Of the latter, she has said, “David Copperfield was Dickens’ own favorite among his novels—no better recommendation than that!”

Fans of Eat, Pray, Love looking for a few good book recommendations should take notes from Gilbert herself. She owes a lot to Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and jokingly says, “I keep this in the bathroom and read from it, literally, every day. I like his humble, common-sense and somehow very contemporary philosophy.”

For more on Elizabeth Gilbert’s favourite books and authors, have a look at her infloox page or add to it yourself if you know of more influences!

Anne Rice releasing video book

February 12, 2010

Love her or hate her, most people have something to say about Anne Rice. She has recently announced that she will be releasing a video book for her story, The Master of Rampling Gate, published in 1984. Older fans will no doubt be intrigued by the return to her earlier works.

At the height of her career when her Vampire Chronicles had turned her into a star, Rice suddenly switched gears. Struck by the death of her daughter Michele, she turned in on herself and started exploring religion. Despite the fact that Rice had previously lived as an atheist, she returned to Catholicism. This massive change was not lost in her work either. Vampires gradually gave way to historical religious fiction, and fans began to change their minds as well. Unfortunately Rice did receive a lot of negative feedback from the press about her new direction but claims that she is happy exploring this other aspect of good versus evil.

The new Rice videobook will essentially be a multimedia book, combining text with video snippets, and is slated for a March 1st release date.

Are you a fan of Anne Rice? Head over to her infloox page to add what you know about her literary influences or people she has influenced.

Remembering Paul Quarrington, a fixture in the CanLit scene

January 21, 2010

paul quarringtonEarlier today marked the sad passing of Paul Quarrington, a key figure in Canada’s literary scene. Most of you may have heard of him in association with his best known novels, Whale Music (which was also released as a film by the same name) and King Leary. For over three decades, Quarrington had delved into the world of novels, screenwriting, filmmaking and music. In addition to this, he played a prime role in a number of Canadian literary organisations and major events.

Since this blog is primarily related to exploring people’s influences and inspirations, in essence finding out exactly what makes them tick, I set out to research Quarrington’s own favourite authors. Being so heavily involved with the lit scene, it was no surprise to find that a lot of his literary influences were also acquaintances. For example, of Timothy Findley‘s novel, Not Wanted on the Voyage, Quarrington reviewed it as “a dazzling display of literary thaumaturgy, magic in its purest sense…”. By the same token, Findley once publicly described him as “an extraordinary writer with a rare gift.”Whale Music by Paul Quarrington

From a young age, Quarrington was also a massive fan of many different types of music. This passion wrote itself into a lot of his work, as is evident by Penthouse Magazine’s review of Whale Music, describing it as “the greatest rock’n’roll novel ever written.” Quarrington often cited The Beatles as well as various blues as influences. And of course he stayed true to his fellow Canadian artists too, writing that Leonard Cohen produced “the highest level of poetic craftsmanship” in his works.

Looking through his website, I was amazed by the sheer number of written and video tributes that have come pouring in from around the country. Pick up one of his books if you have a chance and join us this week in remembering Paul Quarrington.

Celebrating Albert Camus

January 12, 2010

When people speak of existentialism philosophy, often one of the first names to spring to mind is that of Albert Camus. And no wonder! He was one of the leading figures in the field, not to mention a  Nobel Prize winner. So then it might seem slightly odd that he strongly rejected this label, saying, “No, I am not an existentialist. [Jean-Paul] Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…” Where most people get confused is by the fact that Camus’ work had a closer connection with the rise of absurdism instead.

Just last week we remembered the 50th anniversary of Camus’ death, and in his wake he has left us with a wealth of philosophical and literary riches. Apart from the usual suspects that we’ve all come to expect in Camus’ list of influences, one that many people overlook is that of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In his studies, Camus had written a thesis focusing on the relationship between Greek and Christian schools of thought by comparing the writing of Plotnius and Augustine. It is important to note that while Camus publicly declared himself to be atheist, he was so influenced by the works of Augustine, that he came to accept that a “natural desire” for God and his salvation was normal in all people, himself included. To read more on this, have a look through his infloox page.

And for a little dose of humour, does anyone recall the field day that journalists had when they discovered that George Bush was toting around a copy of The Stranger while on holiday at his ranch in Texas? One spokesman had mentioned that Bush had “found it an interesting book and a quick read” and that he went on to briefly discuss the origins of existentialism with his aides. Take that as you will 😉

Charles Dickens, Christmas and the power of connectedness

December 23, 2009

I recently came across an article online that talked about our social networks and how incredibly influential the people around you are, even if you don’t realise it. Here at Infloox, this is exactly what we focus on,  bringing these connections to light. More so, we dissect the influence of books (and even music!) on people, since these works stay around long after the creator has passed on.

Since Christmas is right around the corner, let’s take a look at Charles Dickens and his beloved classic, A Christmas Carol. Originally published quickly in 1843 to cover the expenses of his wife’s fifth pregnancy, the book went on to become one of Dickens’ most well-known tales. So much so, that it is this work that made the common phrase “Merry Christmas” popular in modern culture, as well as the term “Scrooge” to mean a miser and the catchphrase, “Bah Humbug!”. One historian even claimed that, “the current state of the observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday spearheaded by A Christmas Carol.”

But where did Dickens himself derive the inspiration and influences to come up with such a unique story? As with many authors, a large part of it can be attributed to the books and stories Dickens read as a child. Even something as far removed as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Robinson Crusoe made its way in, as he brought in that influence in the beginning of his story. We learn that in Victorian times, pantomimes were extremely popular, and Dickens refers directly to this in his Christmas story.

For aspiring writers, take a good look at the books on your bookshelf, because chances are those very ones will somehow work their way into your own writing. Perhaps it might be subconscious, or other times deliberate, but as we can see, it isn’t only our social networks that guide and shape the way we develop, but also works of literature, no matter how old or new.

Crichton’s “Pirate Latitudes” set sights on silverscreen

December 1, 2009

Some time after Michael Crichton passed away from cancer late last year at 66 years, he left behind an unfinished manuscript that was discovered amongst his files by an assistant. Just when the literary world thought they’d seen the last of Crichton, readers are now thrilled to land their hands on a brand new novel by him. An additional author was hired to complete the work, and it has recently been published as “Pirate Latitudes”.

Perhaps even more interesting for mainstream audiences is that Steven Spielberg is now on board to create a film based on the story. According to Spielberg, “Michael and I have had almost two decades of solid collaborations. Whenever I made a film from a Michael Crichton book or screenplay, I knew I was in good hands. Michael felt the same, and we like to think he still does.”

It is not hard to imagine the tremendous influence that Crichton has had on people during his lifetime, but what of his own influences? A dig through the archives reveals that a lot of his favourite literary works are rooted in the classics, and of course a healthy dose of science fiction. He long admired authors like Mark Twain and Arthur Conan Doyle for their writing styles and techniques, often citing them at the top of his list of favourites. Alfred Hitchcock was also often favoured by him – no surprise since Crichton’s work has consistently displayed a strong cinematic quality.

While Crichton was an English Literature student at Harvard, he did not fare very well. So much so, that one day he tried an experiment. He submitted an essay written by none other than the renowned George Orwell. The professor returned the paper with a paltry B-minus – one step up from Crichton’s C average. Following this incident, Crichton mused, “I thought, if George Orwell only deserves a B-minus, this was vastly too difficult a field for me. I aspired to be Orwell, and he was just scraping by at Harvard.”

Are you a fan of Michael Crichton’s work? How has he influenced you or your writing?

Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” the next bestseller

November 13, 2009

You might ask yourself, “How far would Stephen King’s fans go to read his latest book before the publication date?” Well, his UK publisher asked themselves the same thing. Then they broke down his latest tome into 5000 pieces and seeded it across various fansites, inviting readers to a game of literary hide and seek. Some people took it to extreme lengths, even hiding snippets of the manuscript by hanging it from bridges and scribbling it on public walls, to hiding it in code online. It is predicted that while Under the Dome is no Lost Symbol, it will certainly hit the bestseller lists, and fast!

King is a self-described voracious reader, and his influences span a number of genres and literary periods. Perhaps the most obvious is H.P. Lovecraft, who is even referred to blatantly in some of King’s works. From Bram Stoker, to William Golding and Tolkien, and the list goes on, there is no doubt that King is one to creatively use inspiration to create highly memorable stories. More notably, it is nice to see a writer of his stature keeping up to date with modern literature, even straying into realms outside of his expertise. While discussing the Harry Potter series, King said “The miracle of the Harry Potter series is that it keeps getting better. The genius of Ms. Rowling was her decision (probably never even seriously considered at the time) to follow Harry through his schooling. As a result, Harry’s fans have never left him behind. The question is whether Ms. Rowling will be bound to him for life, as Arthur Conan Doyle was bound to Sherlock Holmes.”

Have you read Under the Dome yet, or are you planning to purchase it soon? A note to the tech-savvy: the digital e-book retails at $35 and will be available on Dec 24th.

Watch this video to hear Stephen King talk about Under the Dome:

Maurice Sendak’s Literary Influences: Wild Things!

October 20, 2009

Maurice Sendak, now in his seventies, has long been a classic favourite figure in the world of children’s literature and illustration. His fame skyrocketed following the release of his book, Where the Wild Things Are.

Sendak was born to Polish Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York. At a very young age, he was captivated by the animation in Disney’s Fantasia, and it was exactly that movie that inspired Sendak to become an illustrator. Over the years, he also expanded his line of work to include authoring numerous books, producing an animated TV series, and designed lavish sets for several operas and ballets, including the award-winning production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

A voracious reader, Sendak cites a vast number of influences in his work, ranging from painters to musicians and authors. Possibly the earliest and most lasting influence was none other than his father, Philip Sendak, who used to spin fantastic tales about the ill fates met by relatives in the old country. Beyond that, he used to even embellish stories from the Bible, into racy versions that were quite inappropriate for children. More than once, Sendak was sent home for innocently retelling these stories at school.

As he grew up, Sendak discovered other sources of inspiration. He calls Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, “a genius”, while Emily Dickinson also ranks high up on his list for her passionate writing. Mozart also provides a great sense of calm, as Sendak explains, “I know that if there’s a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart.”

Most recently, Where the Wild Things Are has been produced as a full-length feature film, capturing scores of young new fans across the world. The special effects and 3D animation stay quite true to his original illustrations, and it will appeal even to older fans.

Read more about Maurice Sendak’s influences on his Infloox page here, and watch an interview with him below: