I’m an old guy. Proof of that lies in the fact that three “old school” authors inspired me to write a mystery (Corpse Pose) and other fiction – Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Earnest Hemingway.
I love Twain for the clarity of his writing – no pretense about it whatsoever – and the wickedness of his wit. I try to emulate his clarity and, in my short fiction, strive for dark humor. I couldn’t find a better model to follow!
(In point of fact, I feel like I know Mark Twain personally thanks to the great actor, Hal Holbrook. Years ago, I had the privilege of seeing Holbrook at my small upper Midwest college in his one-act play, Mark Twain Tonight. It took place in an old auditorium with creaky wooden chairs and bad acoustics. It didn’t matter. Holbrook held us mesmerized the whole evening. You’d swear that Mark Twain had somehow traveled through time to be on that stage. Many thanks to Mr. Holbrook for a memory that’s stayed vivid for over 50 years!)
I love Charles Dickens for his amazing ability to create indelible characters – Scrooge, Uriah Heep, The Artful Dodger, Miss Havisham, Mr. Micawber…the list goes on and on. Dickens had an unparalleled ability to make a character stick in your mind, and I only wish I could come close to creating one character that remarkable.
Finally, I love Ernest Hemingway’s talent for deceptively simple language that has deep pools of emotional meaning beneath it. He had what he called the “Iceberg Theory” of writing – the simple words were above the water line, hiding the great bulk of their supporting meaning in the depths. It’s an extremely hard act of writing to pull off!