by C.S. Elston
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 both comparisons to my series, “The Four Corners,” and 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 and books like “Mere Christianity” and “A Grief Observed” are works I recommend to everyone. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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”, etc.) including the well thought of “What Dreams May Come” which was both enjoyable and disturbing for me due to it’s distorted view of heaven. But, I first discovered Matheson when I saw the movie “Somewhere In Time” and loved it. 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.
The Stephen King & Frank Darabont collaboration
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 and my favorite movie of all time.
Harper Lee – “To Kill A Mockingbird”
This book (as well asthe 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. I have to admit though, I wish they had left “Go Set A Watchman” in the drawer where it was kept for 55 years.
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 at some point. Until then, 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…