Saturday, November 03, 2007

Paper Trails

I read an interesting post on author paper trails by TeenAuthor aka Jacob Martin on Library Thing's What Are You Reading Now group message board. I thought it was worth passing on.

A paper trail of authors is a line of authors connected in one way or another, or perhaps authors who led you one to another.

He sites this example:

Terry Pratchett -> Neil Gaiman -> Alan Moore -> H.P. Lovecraft -> Lord Dunsany

It's sort of like a personal - "People Who Liked This Book Also Purchased..." exercise, and it's kind of fun.

Did an author lead you to read another? One of his influences or imitators?

In my recent reading I suppose I could do this one:

Dan Brown -> Raymond Khoury -> Steve Berry.

I'm not a big fan of The Da Vinci Code nor Angels and Demons, which I read first, but I might never have sampled Khoury had Da Vinci never come along, and I enjoyed The Last Templar quite a bit. That's sort of whetted a Templar appetite, so The Templar Legacy from Berry is on my "to-read" stack.

Looking further back at books I've read (or books I could package together on ebay) I might link:

Mike Resnick -> Glenn Cook -> William Hjortsberg because of Stalking the Unicorn, Old Tin Sorrows etc. and Falling Angel, fantastical detective stories all. Each of those writers pens different kinds of novels as well, so such connections might lead to other genres or sub genres or reading horizons.

Another might be John D. MacDonald -> Carl Hiaason -> James W. Hall, different though alike in that they set crime novels in Florida.

Or Charles Gramlich -> Karl Edward Wagner ->Robert E. Howard ->Edgar Rice Burroughs.

You could probably do some kind of paper trail for Wayne too, but I'm not sure exactly where it might lead.

Wayne Allen Sallee ->Nelson Algren -> Superman comics -> Robert Mitchum films -> ???

It occurs to me that for writers this might be a valuable exercise. It means examining why you like certain works. Knowing what you like about others can certainly fuel your own creative spirit, I believe.


Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting exercise. I can see how you could get some pretty complicated net-like structures. ERB led me to a lot of other writers, for example. Same for Louis L'Amour. A fairly recent link for me might be: Robert E. Howard-> Karl Wagner-> David Gemmell.

Sidney said...

I could even see going sort of full cycle Louis L'Amour -> J.T. Edson ->ERB (because Edson wrote at least one ERB pastiche I know of in "Bunkduki."

I think maybe the Floating Outfit even gets roped--heh heh, so to speak :-)--into the Wold Newton theory but I may be wrong.

RK Sterling said...

Fun. Hmm... let's see... I think it was:

Natasha Fondren > Stewart Sternberg > Charles Gramlich > Sidney Williams > Wayne Allen Sallee. :)

Though the Charles/Sidney/Wayne all seemed to come about at the same time.

Erik Donald France said...

Yes, this is excellent. Love it! The interzone of interinfluence is endlessly fascinating.

Shauna Roberts said...

When I've particularly enjoyed a book, I'll often go to its page on Amazon and look under the "People who bought this book also bought" listing. Sometimes a customer has compiled a list of similar books that is linked to at the end. Those are two useful ways of discovering authors that one might enjoy.

Miladysa said...


Have to give it some thought :]

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