Today I’m so delighted to be able to join in the celebrations with fellow Rainstorm Press author, Lucy Crowe, as she releases her debut novel, Sugar Man’s Daughter; a wonderful moment for any writer. And we’re so lucky she found time in her busy schedule to stop by and share the literary influences that drove her to pen her first novel. Over to you, Lucy.
Who were my biggest literary influences? Oh, that’s a lovely question, because the answers just seem infinite – everyone from Steinbeck to the Apostle John and Stephanie Plum.
But first, of course, is Mom. Picture a mother of six, a farmer’s wife, new to the absolute isolation of the prairie and the ever-present keening of the wind. Her devotion to the written word – any written word, lol! – never faltered. We had novels on shelves, on countertops, in the bathroom, on the dash of the car. I was never told that any book was too advanced, too risqué, too anything. All books were good, all meant to be read. We devoured them as though they were Halloween candy, good and sweet.
The same woman told me that of course I could write a book. And I believed her.
Steinbeck made my sister cry, and that frankly astonished me. But when the farmer in The Grapes of Wrath sold his workhorse team – the ones whose manes his daughter had braided – my heart broke just a little, and I realized then the power of words. Think if Steinbeck had been given that all-too-often-erroneous advice – “cut back on your description”!
The Apostle John wrote with incredible passion, even at a risk to his own life. “Love one another” is simple and direct, and it moves mountains. Two thousand years later, his words are still read and revered, and his message still clear. That’s pretty awesome when you think about it.
Janet Evanovich gave me Stephanie Plum, a hero in her own right. And I point to Evanovich because she somehow made Stephanie so very real, and try as I might, I can never quite put my finger on her methodology. Short, succinct sentences, minimal description. Really not at all my style, which lends itself – if nothing else – to long-winded narrative. And yet, through nineteen novels, I have cheered Stephanie on, laughing at Lula’s antics, and falling in love with . . .well, Morelli or Ranger? That’s part of the charm as well. Stephanie hasn’t decided yet, and she’s got the whole world waiting.
Oh, how I’d love to have the world waiting for my next novel!
But more than that, I want to write like James Lee Burke. His words are so very beautiful, I picture them like little shards of colored glass that Burke holds up to the light and then places, oh-so-carefully, in the mosaic of his story. Each word he writes, so thoughtfully chosen, carrying the perfect weight. And in the end, one glorious smooth flow of utter perfection. No bumps.
Burke, I think, is a writer born, not taught.
Every writer I’ve ever read, I suppose, has carried at least a grain of influence to the table – good, bad or indifferent. The occasional writer – Elizabeth George comes to mind – has such a strong presence that I’m forced to lay her aside when working on my own novel. Her voice comes bleeding through into those of my characters, and I find my Johnny talking about “the lorry” as opposed to the Jeep. British accents are possibly an influence that I don’t have much use for, other than pure enjoyment!
So, a rather strange mix! But what is life, when you think about it, if not a gorgeous overlapping and blending of other lives?
Lucy Crowe divides her time amongst her main loves – family, firefighting and fitting words to life – and occasionally she is astounded by the blending of all three. Her rural home, shared by husband and children, is close enough to Chicago to catch the bright lights, and far enough away to see the stars. Several of her short stories have enjoyed publication under the name C.E. Jones. “Sugar Man’s Daughter” is her first novel.