Victoria Healing of ‘Hey Momma’ has a poetry group in Facebook of which l am a member – well to be more exact it is a small group of like minded rhymers, and as you know, its not that l don’t like true poetry, l prefer to verse myself in rhyme.
She asked a question, a prompt if you wish of who our ‘heroes/mentors’ were for the writing what we write, what we verse, poetise or simply put head to rhyme? It is a good question and although l answered, whilst having my shower, and drowning my head, l was deep in pondercation, isn’t that a lovely word? Ponder – pondering and pondercations! I love to ponder, and am oft caught pondercating, oh yes, lest us not forget pondercating! Cannot have ponderings and pondercations without pondercating! You should all try pondercating at least once a day, if not thrice! Does wonders! I could say for the skin, but perhaps my naughty wild side is thinking of something else, so therefore if not for skin [ooher that’s a bit naughty see what l did there for skin!] then most assuredly for the mind!
When l was younger l was a big huge fan of Enid Blyton’s work, with my all time favourite being Bimbo and Topsy and whilst when younger l never aspired to write like Enid, when l write Scrappy’s Adventures, her posts or even just her Diary episodes, l do oft think back to Bimbo and Topsy and my all time favourite Smokey Joe the Fish Eater by John O’grady. What’s that Scrappy? Oh yes of course, my bad, sorry – let me rephrase “When l assist Scrappy in the pawing up of her Adventures, her posts or even just her Diary episodes…” Is that better now?
I still read Enid Blyton’s books, l don’t have the collection with me today that l still had as little as 20 years ago, but l sold them all to a collector for a hefty figure as they were originals and sadly l needed the money.Although l do have an original Bimbo and Topsy and it is still one of my prized possessions, it’s the emotional sentimentality that technically l am not supposed to possess because of the spectrum, but that’s absolute bollocks!
But l do have reprints of The Magic Faraway Tree and Faraway Tree stories, next to The Wishing Chair collection. Plus also, if you haven’t read the book l mentioned earlier, l would recommend it as it’s brilliant seriously – Smokey Joe the Fish Eater by John O’Grady – l have others by the same author and perhaps my Australian readership might be more familiar with his works – But Aussie English is a good un, as well as the John O’Grady Classics and l am pretty sure that some of you may be more familiar with the likes of the stories within such as “They’re a weird Mob” or Gone Fishin'”, my copy of Smokey Joe cost my Dad a fair bit of money back in the day, you see it was a library book from Melbourne in Australia. It was first published in 1972 which is when John wrote it. The library had one of those first copies, and they got it for their collection in 1973, it had been borrowed 7 times before l got my hands on it and still has the readings in the back. The last time it was returned was 11th November 1974, it never returned to the library because upon reading it l fell in love with it so much l refused to give it back – so eventually my Father simply bought it. I have read that book like Bimbo and Topsy perhaps 100 times, so yes whilst not heroes, l was inspired by the writings of John O’Grady and Enid Blyton somewhat.
When l was fourteen l was very heavily into the genre of horror and the occult and by 17 had some 4000 assorted books on many spooky subjects, which lined all of my bedroom walls on heavy shelves made of stick and brick, l am actually surprised the floor didn’t give out! Back then my favourite authors were Edgar Allan Poe, Dennis Wheatley, Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, H.P Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, James Herbert, Guy.N.Smith, Robert Bloch, Graham Masterton, William Peter Blatty, Algernon Blackwood, Peter Tremayne [ Peter Berresford Ellis] and my all time favourite Guy N. Smith. I used to write to several of them back when l was a teenager, and l had quality correspondence with Smith, Tremayne, Herbert and King and whilst they weren’t heroes, their writing style did perhaps influence how l wrote with Smith most assuredly encouraging me to start writing my short stories for pulp fiction magazines.
Guy.N Smith was also the writer and author of some softcore pornography, and not many people know that unless of course they are truly ardent fans of his works. Many a time he used to write under different names. But when l was in my mid twenties and l started writing softcore pornography myself l set my mind back to his ‘Confessions Stories’.
As l have aged, and as such moved on, l became less fixated with certain authors and just started reading from a much broader range of writers. One writer l totally thoroughly enjoyed was Tom Sharpe who was the most astounding and funniest writer l had ever truly read. I admittedly started reading his books when l turned 16 and read them throughout my life till around a few years ago. If you are not familiar with any of his works, then perhaps these titles might jog your memory – Riotous Assembly 1971 – Indecent Exposure 1973 – Wilt 1976 – Vintage Stuff 1982 – Wilt on high 1984 – seriously funny author. He seemed to burn out, perhaps he wrote himself out.
I came into the Terry Pratchett books completely by accident and the first one l read was The Light Fantastic 1986, and then if by magic l was suddenly awarded a big bag of 30 odd of his books one day and l was totally hooked, totally. Loved his stuff, still miss the writer. James Patterson was and is an incredible read, equally as much as the author to the Goosebump series – R.L. Stine. Of course do l need to mention JK Rowling and the Harry Potter creation, probably not, but they were truly fantastic reads. But also author of Jaws, the great Peter Benchley.
Now back to the original question posed by Victoria, were any of these writers my heroes? No, l don’t think so, l struggle with the term hero. I am a fan to their works for sure, but heroes … no not as a single entity, but l think as a collective of authors and styles, that what we read and then write will be influenced, and then we develop our own style.
What do you think? Did you have heroes or mentors that influenced any of your writing?