A Piece of My Mind: What
Books or Authors Inspired or Influenced You?
I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for
which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our
particular path than we have yet got ourselves.
~ E.M. Forster
Personal Business First
Many write and e-mail me regarding when and where I make an
appearance or appearances out of town. Well folks, I am headed for a BIG
As you read these words between the dates of February 2-13, I won't be at
my desk working. I will be teaching students at the Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn
Community Schools in and near Hartley, Iowa. I must give thanks to my
friend, writer and educator Linda Akwa (for without her help, this event
would have never happened) and Mr. Lynn Evans, Superintendent of Schools for
the invitation . I will also be doing an adult writer's workshop at the
Hartley Library during my visit, which is open to all. So come and see me!
Now To Work
I received an e-mail letter from a loyal reader of this column. I enjoy
getting mail from writers. I enjoy giving my opinion and help to upcoming
writers. I have reprinted this e-mail letter uncut and uncensored
Dear Mr. Pomerantz, My name is Juan Gomez. I like your column and
read it monthly.
What are your favorite books or authors? I mean what books or writers
influence you most?
I am a writer of many short stories and found a few writers i like.
Some authors such as Poe, Hawthorne, King and Benet which I liked. I try
to emulate their styles in my work
Please write soon and tell me your favorites
I have many favorite books that have influenced me over the years. Here
is a small sampling , sorta of a Bennet's Book Club (hey if
Oprah can have one, why can't I?). There is no particular order to
this list, so don't expect a number one, two, etc. This is a small sampling,
I just picked a few of my faves. If I had to write the long list of all
those books that inspired me over the years and have it reprinted here, we
would be here until 2010.
Night by Elle Wiesel (which is also an Oprah book
club selection- so you see I have good taste too!). This semi
auto-biographical book is the author's account of his family's time in a
Nazi death camp during World War II. Wiesel's words are an account with
depth unlike any other book I have ever enjoyed. If you haven't read any of Wiesel's books.... go now, get a few and see what soulful prose is about.
His words influenced me by his prose capturing my interest early on.
You said you like reading short stories from Poe, Hawthorne and King. I
suggest you try two short story collections from author Ray Bradbury.
Bradbury is an amazing short story writer, I would suggest you seek out his
work. Two classic books of his that you may enjoy are
Martian Chronicles and
The Illustrated Man. Chronicles tells tales
and situation of men colonizing the red planet. One of my favorite stories
from Chronicles collection is "Usher II", a thinly disguised morality play
on the subject of children's fairy tales and censorship (written in the
1950's) and is still powerful today more than fifty years later. Also
from Bradbury is a tale of rural farm country, shattered hopes and dreams,
and a traveling carnival; the horror novel Something Wicked this Way
Comes. Bradbury has influenced me by his simple narrative style in both
his short tales and his novels. Also his images are filled with color that
you can feel, taste, or smell.
Comedy is inspiring and has impacted me in my work, especially my weekly
column. The idea of wit is important in writing for today's market place.
Comedian George Carlin has always been a personal favorite of mine. His wit
makes you think long after you heard him. He has translated his verbal
works/comedy bits and routines into the books Brain Droppings,
Napalm and Silly Putty, and When will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops.
Carlin's web site is
A children's book is not always a children's book. One of my favorite
books is Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. (His web
www.roalddahl.com) This book and its sequel Charlie and the
Glass Elevator are two books I read EVERY YEAR. If you don't know the
story, let me give you a short version to wet your whistle. Willy Wonka ,
the great candy maker, closed his factory because other candy makers were
stealing his ideas from his employees. A few years later, he puts five gold
tickets in candy bars around the world for five children to visit him and
his chocolate factory for a one day tour. This is where the adventure
begins. Dahl's novel may seem simple, but it taught me to read between the
lines in character and in text.
Juan, here are two authors I respect giving their opinion on the same
I did an interview with Bruce Coville in
Author Showcase November 2005:
BP: What author or authors do you admire?
BC: I adore the work of Charles Dickens. And recently I read The
Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, which is an utterly
awesome book. Among current adult writers I like William Goldman and
Michael Chabon. Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting is, I think,
the greatest children's book of the last fifty years. But my personal
role model, the man whose writing I most try to emulate, is Lloyd
Here is what Elaine Viets said in her
Author Showcase from September 2005 issue.
BP: What author or authors do you admire?
EV: This is a terrific time to be a reader. There are so many good
mysteries, it's hard to keep track of them all. Plus, there's a full
range of writing, from hard-boiled to traditional. I like Michael
Connelly, Charlaine Harris, Jerrilyn Farmer, Lawrence Block, Barbara
Parker, PJ Parrish -- I could keep on going and fill up this page.
I hope it helps, Juan
Now an Assignment
So now you've read about a few books and authors that inspire me and
other authors. Whose work influences or what author/authors inspires
you? I WANT YOUR OPINION! Pick up to three books or authors or
combinations thereof ..tell me why he or she or the work inspires/influences
you in your writing and/or your life. Your word count is 50-200 words total.
Then please e-mail your piece/pieces in one email to
[email protected] with the word BOOKS in the subject line of
your e-mail (NO ATTACHMENTS PLEASE!). Deadline is May 30th, 2006. The best
selections will be reprinted in "A Piece of My Mind Column" in July 2006.
And as always, Reach for the Stars!
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