My writing influences: Mark Henshaw
With his gripping new literary thriller out now, we asked The Snow Kimono author Mark Henshaw to reveal some of his influences...
Posted on April 9, 2015 in Guest Author
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was probably the book that did it for me. I read it when I was about seventeen and even though I didn’t think about writing myself until my early thirties, it’s a book that I’ve come back to again and again. It’s fantastic what Fitzgerald does in such a short space.
Writers who have influenced me? Flaubert [Madame Bovary], Richard Yates [Revolutionary Road], Richard Ford [the early novels], and without doubt, the short stories of Alice Munro. But I also like works by the Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom [Rituals for example, or The Following Story], but there’s also Javier Marias, Ian McEwan and Michel Houellebecq, amongst others. I’ve gotten a lot out of reading Graham Greene – The Honorary Consul, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, The Third Man. There’s Chandler [The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye] and Hammett, great places to start.
My memory stretches back a long way and one of the most influential TV series I ever saw was the fantastic 32 episode German series Heimat [commenced 1984]. I had studied German Literature at university in Australia and then at the University of Heidelberg in 1981. Heimat was set nearby. It was, and still is, a fantastic achievement. These days, it’s in TV series that we see some of our best writing and cinematography. One only has to think of such varied examples as Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Durham County, Fortitude, Hit and Miss, The Killing, Borgen, and The Bridge to see how vibrant this sector is.
Polanski’s Chinatown, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the sun, Inarritu’s Babel. It was Babel that confirmed for me that you could make something coherent out of three separate stories. Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, though flawed, was riveting viewing, not the least for Kirsten Dunst’s amazing performance. But I’ve also enjoyed comedic films from The Apartment, The Seven Year Itch, The Odd couple, Barefoot in the Park to Woody Allen’s more recent Midnight in Paris. Film in general has been a huge influence on my work. As an aside, One of my favorite possessions is an original large-format Cannes poster for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It’s one of the few films I been to where at a normal commercial screening the audience has got up and clapped. I’ve co-written a couple of crime novels with the writer John Clanchy under the pseudonym J.M. Calder [If God Sleeps 1997, and And Hope to Die 2007, both Penguin books] which have done well in France and Germany. Both have been heavily influenced by film.
THE SNOW KIMONO is out now in hardback and ebook, published by Tinder Press