Q: What other writers inspire you?
A: This is a hard question to answer concisely! There are many writers I enjoy, and many writers that inspire me in writing and other ways. So I’ll pick two that I don’t think are mainstream now in speculative fiction.
I like reading about infrastructure, and my favorite such book is The Big Necessity by Rose George—unfashionable topic, new stuff in every chapter instead of variations of one main idea, a real balance of skepticism and optimism, and humor that’s funny but respectful. And unlike most nonfiction books, I can still remember some of what it was about.
In fiction, I recently read Seize the Day and Herzog by Saul Bellow. I always assumed that he’d be too hard to read to enjoy, when in fact he’s right on the line. It’s an effort, for me, and not a lot happens, but he is so funny. Herzog brought the phrase ‘ludicrous shmegeggy’ into American literature. I didn’t know it was possible to take apart a characters to such a degree, and without ever dropping long, twisty sentences that take multiple readings just to parse.