To write, you have to read. This is not negotiable. Any writer who professes not to read is fibbing about writing, lying about reading, or telling a terrible joke.
I use many elements of my favorite books as inspiration for my own. Not all these inspiration are evident in the finished novel, but they did all allow me to shape the story.
1. Kensington Gardens– Rodrigo Fresán. Unless I have lent you my (British-version-that-took-six-weeks-to-arrive) copy, chances are you haven’t read this novel. Kensington Gardens changed the way I think about literature, particularly structure, which I find most fascinating. Fresán inverts the structure of the narrative several times, which can become confusing for some. The novel follows three eras: Edwardian England, Swinging Sixties London, and the present day. These three finite time periods served as inspiration for the oscillation of Emma’s point of view. If you’re interested in structure and history, I’d highly recommend Kensington Gardens. The writing is beautiful, and although the novel defies classification, I can only conjure the word “surreal.”
2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s– Truman Capote. Always. Everything.
3. Peter Pan– J.M. Barrie. In planning The Lettuce Novel, one of my goals was to bring a fairytale quality to reality. After reading Kensington Gardens (which includes a biography of J.M. Barrie, among other plot lines), I devoured Peter Pan for the first time as an adult. I was struck by how “adult” the book version seemed; I wanted to emulate that in my own writing.
4. The Virgin Suicides- Jeffrey Eugenides. Very few books worship the normal and mundane as successfully as The Virgin Suicides. His writing style– polished, restrained, expansive when necessary– has been a large influence in the creation of my own.