For almost as long as I can remember, one of my favourite things to do has been to read. Getting lost in a book is a magical experience and one that I’m always happy to lend my free time to. Recently for me though, it’s become harder and harder to find that free time to give over, not only because I seem to work almost every hour of the waking day currently, but because what I’m doing now is…..EDITING!
Polishing up the third book in my series is as hard as anything I’ve done, and seems to be taking its toll on me. Just the thought of reading for pleasure at the moment makes me feel physically sick, given how long this process has been going on, and just how hard I’m working to getting the book just right. I say just right, I suppose I mean PERFECT, well, in my mind anyway. Can anything be perfect? I suppose it’s a very subjective point of view. Each time I go back through the book, I always spot something. I suppose that’s to be expected, given everything that’s been going on in the storyline of the last two books; bringing it altogether and adding to the excitement is bound to offer up the odd challenge or two. It certainly has, and it seems hard for me to reach a point where I’m one hundred percent happy with it. Hopefully that point will be any day now. With that in mind, and the fact that something as important to me as the pleasure of reading has been temporarily taken away from me, I’ve decided to write about some of the most important books that I’ve read. While they may not seem important to you in a literary context, they have had a deep impact on not only my reading habits, but on the way in which I write and develop my stories. Hopefully over a period of time, I can tell the stories of the stories that have led me to being where I am today. Your thoughts are most appreciated.
A Debt I Can Never Repay
I hark back to the heavy days of 1994, and having long since been bitten by the book bug, admit that I was ever so slightly stupid in the way in which I fed my addiction. Instead of just wandering into a bookshop and browsing until I’d found something to quell my hunger (of course I did do this as well) I was, for a time at least, a sucker for all of those mail order book clubs. You know the ones I mean. I did, some years later as a service engineer, have to go to said book club’s head office, long after I’d realised just what a sucker I’d been. That was something of a revelation. I digress. Anyhow, having ordered my five books at fifty pence each, or whatever it was, I was delighted when the huge box of books finally arrived, with all thoughts of having to buy one book a month at full price for at least the next twelve months, soon forgotten. Upon opening said box, I pulled out all the lovely tomes, and soon set about slavering over them. They were all fantasy and science fiction, both at the time my preferred genre, all with the exception of one. One was a thriller, and hadn’t been a book that I had ordered. How odd. Stupidly, I couldn’t even remember the book that was supposed to have arrived. Must have been good. So being the lazy twenty something that I was, instead of sending the mistaken book back (far too much like hard work), I just left it lying there on my bedside table, gathering dust. At the time, I read every night, as well as a great deal at the weekends. I suppose a couple of months must have gone by before I found myself without anything to read. Looking at the hulking great hardback that I had been too lazy to return, I can remember being quite unenthusiastic as I picked it up early one evening. What stands out in my mind from that relatively innocuous event, is how tired I was the next day at work, having stayed up reading until well gone 3am. What a book addicted muppet I am. So perhaps now you’re wondering what the book was? I’ll tell you. Debt Of Honour by Tom Clancy, one of the most eye opening and addictive books that I’ve ever read. Needless to say, I rushed home from work the following evening and stayed up again into the small hours to finish it, no mean feat I assure you. As well, and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to those of you with the same addiction, I had to go out and hunt down the rest of the books in the series, and then read them all in order. I wasn’t disappointed. They were, and still are GREAT! Everything about them just sends goose bumps up my arms, from the level of detail to the naval knowledge, from the characters to the way tiny, almost insignificant little bits of storyline weave their way seamlessly into the whole of the plot, something that I’d never seen in quite such a way before, and something that I think has influenced me as a writer, more than a little. The character of Jack Ryan is brilliantly thought out and brought to life, and a wonderful hero. But it is perhaps not him that had me hooked. John Clark for me was the one…..the one that stood out, the one that had that almost Han Solo appeal. A good man with a dark side. Partnered with Chavez, they made quite a team. The staying up late was well worth it for me, especially considering the book’s end, something which I’m not going to spoil for you if you haven’t already read it. Those couple of days, and the fluke with which left me with the book in the first place, play a pivotal role in my reading habits and the way in which I write. I always wished to meet Tom Clancy, I mean who doesn’t wish to meet their writing heroes…? I know I certainly have always wanted to. It always makes me wonder what I would have asked him. Would it have been about his intricate naval and military knowledge? About his inspiration for the well defined characters? Did he start from the end and work his way backwards when figuring out the plots of his books? Or just how it was he learnt to incorporate such insignificant pieces of text, that, like tiny pieces of a puzzle, all fit together in a much larger picture, perfectly at the end? I suspect the latter.
Thanks for reading.