The Blooding author James McGee has taken the time to talk about the novels he wished he could have written –
If you’re expecting them all to be historical in content, think again!
Though, having said that…
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Probably the first adventure novel I ever read, if you exclude Biggles! It’s simply a cracking story, with exotic locations, intrigue and murder on the high seas, buried treasure and ferocious gun battles. Plus it’s got pirates and Long John Silver! What’s not to like?
The Pass Beyond Kashmir by Berkely Mather
Along with Alistair MacLean, Hammond Innes, Desmond Bagley, Gavin Lyall and early Jack Higgins, Mather was one of a cadre of authors whose stories were essential reading for those of us who love high adventure yarns; a genre which, sadly, seems to be fast disappearing. His espionage thrillers set in Northern India and The Hindu Kush featuring the wonderfully sardonic agent Idwal Rees inspired me to pen my novel Crow’s War, about a pilot trapped behind enemy lines during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. A little known fact is that Mather also co-wrote the script for the first Bond movie, Dr No.
The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker
Frankly, just about any of Parker’s titles would be on my list. No longer with us, alas, Parker was one of America’s greatest crime writers and the natural successor to Raymond Chandler. His novels featuring Boston private eye Spenser, of which The Godwulf Manuscript was the first, should be required reading in every creative writing class. So many authors take a page or more to describe what Parker was able to convey in a single sentence. Even writing historical fiction, if ever I find myself becoming bogged down with prose I’ll pick up Parker to remind myself how it should be done.
The Gun by C. S. Forester
Reading this at school for my GCE O Level – and, yes it does seem like a life time ago – the mission, by Spanish guerrillas, to transport a massive bronze cannon across Spain during the Peninsular War, gripped me from the start. It led me to Hornblower, Dudley Pope’s Ramage, Alexander Kent’s Bolitho adventures and inevitably, in later years, to Bernard Cornwell’s magnificent Richard Sharpe. After all that swotting up on Crompton’s Mule and Arkwright’s spinning jenny (look ‘em up, if you don’t know), these stories taught me that history could be exciting.
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
Another book from my childhood, though, to be honest, it was Michael Mann’s film adaptation rather than the book that caught my imagination, for when I returned to the novel to consult Cooper’s descriptions of time and place I found the text almost impenetrable. Thanks to Mann’s re-working of the plot, however, the romance and epic sweep of the original story were retained and Cooper’s characters were lifted from page to screen to marvellous effect, most notably, Hawkeye, Magua and Chingachgook. If there was one story that guided my hand during the writing of The Blooding then this was it.
Oh, and just so you know, when I took History at A Level, I failed, miserably.
And I only managed an E grade in English. Make of that what you will…
3 Jul 2014