Recently I was interviewed by the amazing and successful author Jane Howard for her website, you can find that interview if you click here. And among other things she asked me which authors inspire me.
And what I said was this:
All authors inspire me – all of them, good ones, bad ones, self-published, small press, big publisher. I think writing books and stories is a tremendous thing for people to be doing, we hold a mirror up to society, we are its conscience and its soul. That’s no small thing to be involved in.
Does that sound a bit highfalutin? I don’t care – I really believe it is true. Authors undervalue themselves. Perhaps they always did, but they certainly do in these days of giving away books for free and self publishing straight to Kindle and scrabbling for a readership. Authors don’t appreciate the value their work brings to society.
Because whatever type of book we produce we are not just writing to entertain people. Even if we think that’s all our books do it’s not true. It’s more than that. Because what we are all writing about, every one of us, is the human condition.
You don’t have to be Proust to do that. You don’t have to be wrestling with the complexities of human nature. If you are writing romance novels for example then you are writing about love and lust – an area of human life which obsesses every last one of us at many points in our lives.
But you might say you write about aliens from space, or hobbits, or rabbits in Watership Down. Doesn’t matter, you are still writing about the human condition. Because no aliens from space or rabbits or hobbits are going to read your books. Only us humans.
And even if a book humbly intends to do no more than while away a few happy hours for the reader, immersing them in a crime drama or a ghost story or a historical romance, it is secretly doing far more than that. It is raising questions about the way we are, it is asking the reader to find answers to those questions.
It doesn’t matter whether your story is a novel, or a tv script or a movie or a play. The medium doesn’t matter, it’s the message which counts.
Story telling is a deep and basic human need. To tell stories, to hear them, that is something which has been around as long as human beings have. Let’s not underestimate the power we have, or the good we do.
My latest book The Pick-Up Artist is out on Kindle and paperback.
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