7 Authors That Have Influenced Me As A Writer, by C.S. Elston
1. C.S. Lewis
While the list is in no particular order, I thought I’d start with C.S. Lewis and his fantastic Chronicles of Narnia series because of obvious comparisons to my debut novel, “The Four Corners”. Not to mention the fact that we share the same first two initials (although, I’m Christopher Scott – not Clive Staples). The Narnia books were staples (pun absolutely intended) in my house when I grew up. “The Screwtape Letters” also blew me away in high school. C.S. Lewis has had as big of an impact on me as a writer and a person as anyone else on the planet. Absolute genius.
2. Harper Lee – “To Kill A Mockingbird”
This book (as well as the 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck) made me want to write about real people and real problems. It also cemented, in both my writing and me as a person, themes of justice, redemption and truth. This is not only the greatest novel of the 20th century, it’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, novels of all time. Lee’s long-awaited follow up (55 years?!) “Go Set A Watchman” is the next book on my “To Read” list and I simply can’t wait!
3. The Stephen King & Frank Darabont combination
Stephen King is a brilliant and prolific writer. No question. But, I would argue that some of his best work is after it has been polished into a screenplay by Frank Darabont. This is how we got the movies “The Green Mile” (adapted from King’s serial novel of the same name) and “The Shawshank Redemption” (adapted from King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”). The latter is a particularly wonderful screenplay to read.
4. Richard Matheson – “Somewhere In Time”
Richard Matheson is another excellent writer who has had a lot of his books turned into movies (“Stir Of Echoes”, “I Am Legend”, “What Dreams May Come,” etc.) But, I first discovered Matheson when I saw the movie “Somewhere In Time” starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. It was captivating to me. So, I read the book (originally called “Bid Time Return” but changed for marketing reasons to match the film title) and liked it even better.
5. J.R.R. Tolkien
The entire Middle Earth saga (“The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and “The Silmarillion”) is a breathtaking masterpiece. The Peter Jackson films are awesome, too. But, the books the movies come from were a revelation when they were written in the 1950’s. Tolkien made me realize that both the devil and God can be found in the details.
6. H.G. Wells
Novels like “The Time Machine, “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” and “War of the Worlds” captivated my imagination when I was growing up. Wells had a brilliant
mind and he made me realize the importance of romance in stories that, on the surface, seem to have nothing to do with love but the deeper you dig the more you realize that’s what they’re all about. That’s not just a lesson on writing, but on life.
7. Dean Koontz
The “Odd Thomas” series is very popular and very fun. Koontz is another prolific writer with great commercial success. One of the more underrated books he’s written is called “Relentless” and may be a compilation of every author’s worst nightmares.
Of course, I could easily go on and make this list a lot longer. How could I not include the likes of J.K. Rowling, Madeleine L’Engle, Arthur Miller, Richard Adams, Tennessee Williams, William Goldman, Chaim Potok, Diane Kinman, Shel Silverstein, Dante Alighieri, Richard Connell, Horton Foote, Nora Ephron, John Grisham, Michael Morris, John Steinbeck…? See how long this list could get. Too much for one post. Perhaps “Part Two” will be in order when my second novel, “The Gift of Tyler” comes out. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts and reflections on some of the superb writers who have influenced me over the years. Happy reading…
After award-winning stage work in the nineties, Chris moved to Los Angeles where he wrote more than two dozen feature film and television screenplays. He has been invited to participate in screenwriting events for Cinema Seattle and Angel Citi Film Festival. In 2013, Chris left Los Angeles for the suburbs of his hometown, Seattle, Washington, to get married and start a new chapter in his own story.
* A more detailed bio can be found at www.cselston.com
About The Four Corners
The Snyder family is falling apart. Grant and Jill barely speak and when they do, they’re screaming at one another. Their youngest child, Kinsey, has withdrawn into himself to the point where the only person he really speaks to is his sister, Tatum. She was born with more resilience than her brother and has essentially taken over the duties of both parents where Kinsey is concerned. His greatest fear is that his parents will split up and he’ll be separated from Tatum. When another shouting match ensues and the word divorce is finally used, Kinsey loses it. He runs into the forest in a total emotional frenzy and vanishes right before Tatum’s eyes. When she and her parents search exhaustively and come up empty, fear, anger and guilt cause another emotional outburst and the rest of the family vanishes as well. They each wake up alone in separate parts of a strange world called Kadosh. This world is made up of a vast ocean and five islands used to separate men, women, boys and girls by Raum, the ruler of Kadosh, who lives on the island in the center of the other four. Raum is in control of everything but the people in Kadosh. The Snyders band together with other people previously trapped in Kadosh on a thrilling quest to defy Raum and find their families against all odds. The Four Corners is a brilliantly told, imaginative story about the importance of love and family.
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