I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. A couple weeks ago, I got tagged in a FB post to share 10 books that have stuck with you. Not your favorites (though there was some overlap), but ones that have haunted, changed, or just plain wormed their way into your worldview.
It got me thinking- I’d have a completely DIFFERENT list from either favorite OR stuck-with if you asked me to list the books that have influenced my writing. And of course, that would be a meandering list as well. When I first started writing, it was YA and had a whole different set. Right now, though? With romance?
Well, it isn’t a romance writer whom I have realized has probably informed my writing style the most. It’s Alexander McCall Smith. You guys, if you don’t know him- you lucky ducks, he’s so prolific that you suddenly have series after series to read and enjoy. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is probably his most well known. Confession- I only watched the (brilliant and charming) HBO series, haven’t actually read the books. My favorite is 44 Scotland Street, a series about an apartment building and it’s inhabitants. There are one-offs and other series a-plenty, though, and I have never read something by this man that hasn’t both delighted and informed me.
Seriously. He’s SO SMART and it comes through in the books. You will learn things. Fun things, too! Like wine and poetry and art and culture.
The thing that he does, which I have realized I have adopted as well, is what I call The Tangent. You know when you are thinking, very hard and very seriously about something, and next thing you know, you’re actually having a long hard think about the word Wednesday or cheesemaking, or your 5th grade teacher instead? He writes that way. And I adore the realism, and the character development that results from it.
And today, while I was meant to be revising, and instead found myself gazing down at a character’s tangent and thinking about Mr. McCall Smith instead, I thought I should blog about it.
Just for funsies, here’s a recent interview with him where he captures my heart forever by admitting to “second sleeps” and also “siestas”.