Kris Humphrey: My Writing Influences

Moontrug is very excited that author Kris Humphrey is stopping off here on his blog tour. His debut children’s book for 8+ years, A Whisper of Wolves, is out now and here he is talking about his writing influences…

A Whisper of Wolves cover

When a raven drops a white feather at the doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild. Many years have passed since the people of Meridina last knew war, but a shadow has settled over the kingdom. When Alice and her companion, Storm, sense a demonic presence in the forests, they send for help. But they’re running out of time. With the entire balance of the natural world at stake, will Alice and Storm have to face the demons alone?

I’m often asked what my favourite book is. It’s a good question, but such a tough one to answer, for me, at least. I usually say The Hobbit, but the truth is I don’t have one favourite book. I could name 50 books that I love just as much, and all for very different reasons. But the reason I give The Hobbit as my answer is because of the influence it had on my early reading life, how it kick-started my imagination and set me on the long road to becoming a writer. So, now I’m going to tell you about some other great books – and great writers – who’ve influenced my writing in a wide variety of ways:

Redwall by Brian Jacques – The first in a brilliant series of fantasy novels set in a world where animals walk upright and do battle and eat enormous feasts. It was one of the first full-length books I ever read and I still remember the feeling of finishing it. It was so good I wanted to tell everyone I knew about this amazing, exciting world I’d discovered. Like J.R.R. Tolkien, Brian Jacques helped set me on course towards writer-hood.

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper – Her Dark is Rising sequence has become a modern classic, and I think Ghost Hawk deserves just as much acclaim. It shows the arrival of the first European settlers in North America from the perspective of a young Native American. It’s beautifully written, with a strong sense of the fragile balance of nature and the tragedy of human greed. This book inspired me a great deal while writing A Whisper of Wolves.

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick – I’ve read most of his books and they’re all great, but this one’s my favourite. He strikes the perfect balance between an incredibly tense plot and an atmospheric historical setting. Like Susan Cooper, his writing style is understated and thoughtful, and all the more effective for it. As a writer, this is something I aspire to.

Varjak Paw by S.F. Said – This is the story of a pampered house cat forced to survive out in the big, bad city – oh, and he knows an ancient form of cat Kung-Fu too! It has a macabre fairy-tale quality to it and is a masterclass in imaginative writing – especially in writing from the perspective of an animal.

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver – Perhaps this is an obvious influence on A Whisper of Wolves, but I can’t understate how much I love Michelle Paver. She conjures incredibly vivid settings and writes such heart-stopping action scenes. She clearly knows a huge amount about prehistoric life too, but chooses just the right amount of detail to add to each scene – too much and it could become a history lesson – not enough and it could lack reality. But she balances all of this to perfection.

So, there you have it: a snapshot of my writing influences. If you haven’t read them, I urge you to give them a try. You never know – you may get struck by inspiration just like I did!

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