What books triggered you to write?

This was a question in an interview with a Dutch poet which I read last week. It made me think about the books that have played an important role in my writing process – curious to see if I’d find the book that marked the beginning.

Faithful Timmy

I read an awful lot of books of The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton, when I had just started writing. Charmed by Timmy, George’s dog, I wrote countless stories that included a faithful dog. (I even tried to convince my parents to buy a dog.)  I must admit I still like the idea yet I haven’t included an animal into any of my stories lately.

LotR meets HP

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy set me off into writing longer stories in which a select company is chosen to fulfil a difficult and nearly impossible task. At the same time I began reading LotR in English, the first book of Rowling’s Harry Potter series was released. Swept away by a boy who finds himself in a new strange world in which he plays an important role, LotR and HP were fused into my stories.

Heaven, Hell, Oblivion.

One book that comes to mind that still has influence on my writing is Astrid Lindgren’s Brothers Lionheart. A children’s book in which death and the afterlife play a major aspect. I remember reading it as a kid, around the time I was preparing for my Holy Communion, and I thought it would be really cool if heaven would look like that. (Minus the evil tyrant and the fire breathing dragon, of course.) Without thinking about the book, death still intrigues me and often occurs in my stories.

All in all, I can think of several books that have left their marks, but I can’t say there has been a single one that has marked the beginning.

Do you remember what books influenced your early writing or do you actually have a specific book that set off your writing career?



21 thoughts on “What books triggered you to write?

  1. I’m not even sure that it was books that made me want to write, I think it was life that made me want to write. I started writing letters in primary school and at an even younger age than I thought (now that those people are back in touch via FB and tell me they still have those letters), then at boarding school I wrote and wrote in order to receive letters and then when I travelled I sent everyone my poste restante addresses all over Asia again to ensure contact with the outside world – no wonder I love blog comments!

    I have always loved to read and always thought that by reading I’d improve my vocabularly and so I’ve always been attracted to books with a more poetic literary style because they stretch that part of the intellect and strive to use words and metaphor to create an image in the readers mind. I also like variety so that I don’t become too narrow in my perceptions of language or genre and I like to read across cultures.

    Today one of my favourite writers is Susan Hill, I feel like I learn something from her, every book I read and as for favourite books, ‘Birds without Wings’ by Louis de Bernieres and ‘The Industry of Lost Souls’ by Martin Booth are top of mind, but there have been many others along the way.

    The thing that set off my writing career was a little creative writing course at the Groucho Club in Soho where two writers instructed us to write something every week, they were my catalyst from letters and travelogues into fiction. And the reading never stops, that vocabularly goal will never be realised but I will continue working towards it. But like you, it wasn’t a book or a specific author that did it for me.

    1. Hi,

      No, I haven’t. Thanks. I’ll check the site and if I like it I’m going to put them on my holiday book list 🙂


  2. There are so many books that triggered an interest in creative writing and books that continue to inspire. But instead of trotting out a list of the usual suspects (“Gatsby”, Hemingway’s Nick Adams Stories, etc.) I’ll offer one that I remember ordering through Scholastic Books (a school book club here in the States) that fired up my imagination when I was about 10 years old … the YA novel “Blackbeard’s Ghost” by Ben Stahl.

  3. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum made me want to write as a kid. The end of J.K. Rowling’s series motivated me to create a cast of my own characters to hang out with. 🙂

  4. Its an obvious title, but Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. Although many people would prefer to turn their noses up at this series, I was intrigued by how she managed to hold my attention through each book. I think I read the second title in a day. I haven’t done that since…never. I can’t remember wanting to read a book so much. It wasn’t the quality of writing, but her ability to keep me interested that captivated me. After reading the four books, I knew I had to write my own stuff.

    1. Hi Eliza,

      As long as I enjoy reading them I don’t really care what other people think of it. Right now the Twilight series is a hype, just like the Dan Brown books were a couple of years ago. Back then there were (and probably still are) plenty of people who thought those books were badly written and now they say the same thing about Twilight. Like Pulman’s trilogy, Twilight is still on the list.


  5. To Kill a Mockingbird has always inspired me. To write ONE book that has never gone out of print and has influenced so many, for so long. *long whistle* I wouldn’t mind that at all.

    1. Isn’t that secretely any writer’s dream? It is a nice goal to work to 😉 As a kid I often dreamt about writing an impressive bestseller and being a kid and all would make it even more special. Didn’t really work out that way, but the idea is nice. Let me know when you’ve managed to write that book 🙂

  6. I’m not really a writer, but there are some books that triggered my interest to become a reader. Until I was about 15 years old I never had any interest to read anything. I believed that books where basically slow, boring films. Thats started to change when I got my hands on a book by John Grisham, The Jury. Not a spectacular book by any account, but as I started reading, I wanted to know how the story would continue.

    This didn’t start a landslide of reading, but I wasn’t as opposed to reading as I used to be. A couple of years later I started reading a fantasy book, Wit’ch Fire by James Clemens. As I was already interested in fantasy films and games I was amazed by the creativity of the writer and ideas this gave me to use in my own games. I have been a steady (fantasy) reader ever since.

    1. Hi Willem,

      I can’t remember when I first began reading books. I can remember that as soon as I entered secondary school I suddenly didn’t feel like reading a book for fun anymore since I had to read plenty of books for Dutch and English classes (and later on for German and French too). And after writing the upteenth book report I kind of had it with reading. I rediscovered the joy of reading as soon as I graduated. (The first book I read voluntarily was Chaucer’s Canterbury tales.)


  7. Great book choices! J.K Rowling and Astrid’s books had an impact on me as well.

    Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy changed the way I looked at the world after I finished The Golden Compass. I couldn’t stop thinking about one day writing a novel that was just as elegant, universal, and boldly irreverent to the dominant hegemonic as Mr. Pullman had done in the span of three books. It’s now six years after I read that brilliant series, and I’m still writing every day!

    1. Hi Millie,

      I still have Pullman’s books on my to do list. Reading your message I get the impression they are worth the read.

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