Michael asked Michael J. Sullivan:

What non-fantasy book do you think has had the most impact on the way you approach writing?

Michael J. Sullivan I'm not sure I could pick out just one book...I'm influenced by so many sources it's hard to pull them a part. I think most will be surprised to hear that I learned a lot from Ayn Rand. While she is best known for her philosophical system called Objectivism, that wasn't what drew me to her writing. I just think Atlas Shrugged was a beautifully written story that had me hooked. I was constantly trying to unravel the mystery of John Gault.

Ayn is marvelous with descriptions and she has a way of painting a scene with words. I still can vividly see Dagney Taggert up late in her office trying to figure out how to keep her railway running (as all is falling around her) and the mysterious figure watching her from outside in the rain. I can't say I share her ability in this regard as I tend to forgo a great deal of detail in setting descriptions in lieu of focusing on characters and plotting, but I do think she taught me about what makes for good character building through strong and consistent motivations by the people in her books. I also think both of us are good at planting an idea and slowly exposing clues to keep people interested in finding out what EXACTLY is going on. That's just one of the books/people I've learned from but there are many others including John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Khaled Hosseini, Stephen King, Gregory David Roberts, man I could go on and on.

I think a big part of the reason is I'm basically "self-taught" which means when I was starting to learn to write I would read a particular author than try to dissect what they were doing and how. Kinda reverse engineering like taking apart an old radio and poking about to see what it is made up of.

I hope that answers your question,and thanks for asking!

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