Monday, 8 July 2013

Leafing Through My Mental Bookshelf

Dancing Beastie, who has the wonderful blog of the same name about life in a Scottish Castle, has been talking about writing, and how to decide what it is you want to write. She described it as "leafing through her mental bookshelf" for the books she loved - the books that she wanted to emulate when she wrote something.

My mental bookshelf has all sorts of things cluttering it up - but when I start thinking about it there are a few common themes.
One favourite writer, right back as far as the early 1980s, is Katherine Kurtz, author of the Deryni fantasy series. What I like about those is the way she blends fantasy with medieval historical detail.
For more historical detail, there's Sharon Kay Penman - who I love for all her books, but particularly the Welsh trilogy.
There's Rosemary Sutcliff, too - another writer who makes you feel that you're there, in the Roman villa or Bronze Age hillfort. She's also very good at dogs. There's a good dog character in nearly every one of her books.
And then there's Mary Gentle, who takes historical detail and fantasy and science fiction and archaeology and blends it all into one mad whole in her Ash stories - but it's a mad whole that makes glorious sense.
Finally there's Joy Chant, who wrote the wonderful Red Moon and Black Mountain, in which children from England slip across into an alternate fantasy world to fulfil their destinies, but in a way that is very unlike CS Lewis. When she was asked why she wrote fantasy, she said something along the lines of: "When I write, that's what comes out."
Which is pretty much what I find when I sit down to write, too.

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