I’m thrilled to be joined by author Karl Drinkwater today who is telling us all about his author influences.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and any ghost stories (especially the Armada Ghost Books edited by Mary Danby). I would climb the weeping willow to read the latter. I also adored Harry Cat’s Pet Puppy (George Selden, 1975). I remember crying at the end of it. I really should read it again one day, and buy copies for presents.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved it. I made up stories from an early age, read continuously, and always came top in English classes. It was the only subject I did well in at secondary school, and I often contributed fiction and poems to the school magazine, Urmstonian. Though I cringe when I re-read them now.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read horror books for escapism and literary books for style. I write in both genres so that works out well.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Well, I write in two genres already, which is seen by many as a no-no. Though some of my work mixes the two, so maybe the twain shall meet.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think the pure readability of Stephen King and Dean Koontz inspired me a lot in my teenage years when I spent all my pocket money on their novels. I wanted to be able to write books where the reader forgets it is a book. Some of my thriller/horror works have been compared to Koontz, and the more character-based stories to King, so maybe a teeny bit of their magic rubbed off. One of the short stories in my last collection was called Just Telling Stories and was a mini-homage to some of the creepy tales that seasoned my imagination.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Strangely, no, not any more. I tend to enjoy individual books – even when I really enjoy one it doesn’t mean I’ll always seek out other works by that author. If you think about it, any author who writes a lot has two options. One is to keep writing to the template that made them famous, because it sells and it is what readers expect. Downside: the books become increasingly familiar and predictable. The effect is diluted. The other option is for the author to try new things. Downside: they may annoy fans by not fulfilling their expectations. If every book is different there’s no guarantee that every book is good. Either way, I try to read great books regardless of who wrote them, rather than follow just one author. I enjoy trying new things in my own writing, so have created novels about finding love in Manchester, and about being chased across a Welsh island by murderers; stories about haunted museums, and about a child trying to show love to a parent whatever the cost. One end of the spectrum to the other.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The opening to The Descent by Jeff Long wowed me. I couldn’t understand how he’d achieved such a gripping effect. The whole book was good but couldn’t match the ever-so-subtle menace of the opening, stuck in an icy cave in mountains during a storm.
Sometimes books that take an escalating concept and just push it to its max can amaze me in the way they achieve the effect. For example Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, or the wildness of Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (lovely cover and book design on that one too).
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I joke that my two Manchester novels, Cold Fusion 2000 and 2000 Tunes explain how I came to leave Manchester (they are set around the time that I moved from there to Wales). I say no more.
About Karl Drinkwater
Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but has lived in Wales for nearly twenty years, ever since he went there to do a degree: it was easier to stay than to catch a train back. His longest career was in librarianship (twenty-five years); his shortest was industrial welding (one week).
Sometimes he writes about life and love; sometimes death and decay. He usually flips a coin in the morning, or checks the weather, and decides based on that. His aim is to tell a good story, regardless of genre. When he is not writing or editing he loves exercise, guitars, computer games, board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice and zombies.
A huge thank you to Karl for taking part!