Huge thanks to CTG for letting me have a guest spot on this great blog. I’ve chosen to talk a little about my influences, and how they may have affected the books that I write, or even the way that I write. Style. That’s the word. At my first ever event as an author I remember being asked by Colin Bateman what I would say my “style” of writing was like. At the time, I’d written my first book, I’d been lucky enough to get a book deal, and I was working on my second novel, The Plea. My answer must’ve been disappointing, but it was honest. I said, “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure that I have a style.”
To me, other authors that I’d read and loved for years, had style. The likes of John Connolly – who writes in beautiful, poetic prose. His Charlie Parker novels are essentially gothic detective novels, but they are shot through with humour, warmth, and a good dollop of the supernatural. Raymond Chandler had style. His language was at times strange and wonderful especially in those extended metaphors. Michael Connelly has an almost journalistic style – a beautiful, unadorned simplicity that somehow transports you straight into the heart of Los Angeles and into the passenger seat beside Bosch. I also love the stripped back genius of Lee Child – with those tripping, declarative sentences that are almost musical. Speaking of music, Elmore Leonard played a tune in dialogue that few others could even get close to – perhaps only Ian Rankin is Leonard’s equal.
So having read all of those authors, and more, what kind of style did I have? At the time, I couldn’t see it. I think that it takes a few books to emerge. At the time I began writing, I never once thought about my style of writing or even trying to create one.
It’s difficult to determine how those authors I’ve mentioned above have influenced me or the books that I write. In asking myself that question, I can only think of one answer. All of them tell brilliant stories. And those stories are told in uniquely brilliant ways.
A style, I suppose, is the sum total of its different parts. So it’s every author that I’ve read, filtered through me. And no-one else can sound like that. If you asked me today what my style is, I’d still have to give a bit of a vague answer. I only know what I like to write. I like stories that start quickly, that move with enough speed to keep the reader hooked, and while all the fireworks are going off, I like to try and make the reader think. My language is fairly simple because I like it that way. I do aim for a twist or two, because as a reader I enjoy twists and turns. Most of my style probably comes down to character. If I can get my characters to tell the story, rather than me – the writer, then I think I’m going in the right direction.
Influences are like parents, you can’t really choose them. I’ve been lucky in that the writers that have influenced and inspired me the most are some of the greats of the genre. There’s not a bad book in any of them. Apart from the pleasure I get from their work, they also drive me to try and be a better writer.
That’s really all the influence you need.
A big thank you to Steve Cavanagh for making the CTG blog today’s stop on his blog tour.
THE PLEA is out on May 19th in Trade Paperback, eBook and Audio. It’s a tremendous read and an absolute must for all thriller fans. Here’s what the blurb says: “When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm. Eddie’s not a man to be coerced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price. When Eddie meets Child he’s convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.”
To find out more about crime writer Steve Cavanagh hop over to his website at www.stevecavanagh.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @SSCav