Author: tjenglish

Writing influences

I was asked recently by an esteemed college professor to list influences. Every professional writer has them.

Here is a list. Mind you, these are not necessarily my favorite writers, they are writers I was influenced by, which is, perhaps, a different criteria. I learned from these writers, in some cases from their writing style, and in some case from their POV as a writer.

Being influenced by is not the same as choosing to copy or emulate. On the contrary. When you are really influenced by a writer, it usually means you wouldn’t dare try to copy that writer. The thinking is, that has been done, and it can’t be done better…

Major influences:

  1. Fyodor Dostoyevski – crime and society. The micro and the macro. To whom I owe everything.
  2. Zora Neal Hurston – anthropological storytelling; diverse writing talent
  3. Hunter S. Thompson – counterculture point of view; iconoclast
  4. Norman Mailer – the audacity of the authorial voice; the big picture
  5. Joan Didion – cool detachment and consummate research; the perfect sentence
  6. Stephen Crane – exploring the social universe; the non-passive imagination
  7. Albert Camus – applied existentialism
  8. Chester Himes – the world within a world
  9. Jean Genet – prison voices; society as a form of incarceration
  10. James Baldwin – exposing the hypocrisy of white society and psychological horrors of the American project
  11. William Kennedy – Irish American storytelling
  12. Peter Maas – non-fiction crime narratives
  13. Pauline Kael – verve in the prose, thinking and writing at the same time. Immediacy of the ideas.
  14. James Joyce – self invention through writing
  15. Edna Buchanan – a woman in a man’s world; reporting as an art form