I believe that everything you read makes you a better writer, even if the book you're reading shows you what not to do. But reading a well-written book is better than any masterclass or workshop or textbook on writing. The well-written book shows you what's possible. A good book dares you to be better, more raw, more honest and brave as a writer.
Here are five books that influenced the writing of my book Two Wolves (US: On the Run), with a favourite quote from each book.
'It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.'
'I must say this now about that first fire. It was magic. Out of dead tinder and grass and sticks came a live warm light. It cracked and snapped and smoked and filled the woods with brightness. It lighted the trees and made them warm and friendly. It stood tall and bright and held back the night.'
'This carrot is a sign from Mum and Dad. They’ve sent my favourite vegetable to let me know their problems are finally over. To let me know that after three long years and eight long months things are finally improving for Jewish booksellers. To let me know they’re coming to take me home.'
- Morris Gleitzman, Once.
'If you tell the truth you do not need a good memory.'
“We catched fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a kind of low chuckle. We had mighty good weather, as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next.”
'He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn't work. It wasn't just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that--it didn't work.'
'Not hope that he would be rescued--that was gone. But hope in his knowledge. Hope in the fact that he could learn and survive and take care of himself. Tough hope, he thought that night. I am full of tough hope.'
This is part four in a series of posts on the writing of Two Wolves. Here are the others: