My younger son, a critical reader, agreed to read the most recent draft. Today he asked a good question: Which book do you think had the greatest direct impact on how you wanted to write this? Wow. I guess I figured that the hundreds of fiction books I’ve read over the years all influenced my effort. But can I pick out a few with the greatest direct impact? I went back to the file of short reviews I write after I finish reading a book. It didn’t help very much; maybe the question is too broad. “How I wanted to write this” in terms of the story structure? descriptions of the landscape? descriptions of characters? general tone? Each of these is a different aspect of the writing and each has been influenced by many authors. To get reminders of the environment I have recently read or re-read several books set in Africa: White Dog Fell from the Sky, Poisonwood Bible, Homegoing, Antonia Saw the Oryx First. I didn’t especially like (or finish) the latter two while I loved the others. They were all good to remind me of the landscape. For simplicity of writing style and tone I love all of Kent Haruf’s books but I don’t write the same way he does. For structure, I was delighted to find that Lucky Boy (Shanti Sekaran) had used a back- and -forth- between two characters such as I used, and it worked in that novel. (And, btw, was that book prescient!)
Good question. Deserves more thought. No clear answer. Hundreds of books have influenced me in different ways.