Though around these parts we talk a lot about the fiction that inspires us, I’d like to give a shoutout to the nonfiction books (non writerly craft books, that is) that have influenced my writing. I don’t often read nonfiction, to be honest. My TBR pile is groaning as it is. But three nonfiction books have been so inspiring they’ve made me study them as if I were deconstructing a great work of fiction to see how the heck they did it.
David Niven’s THE MOON’S A BALLOON.
I love gossip about old Hollywood (I like it about new Hollywood too, but shhhh, that’ll be our dirty secret). When I spied a tattered copy of David Niven’s THE MOON’S A BALLOON on the shelf in the library, I thumbed through it curiously because he’d been an actor in a few of my favorite pre-war movies, Wuthering Heights and Charge of the Light Brigade.
From page one I was rolling, fearful of my ribs. Niven somehow was able to translate his droll self-deprecating character onto the page. That crackling wit combined with juicy anecdotes of Hollywood’s elite kept me locked until I’d finished the last page. As many of us know, writing funny isn’t easy. So I studied how Niven would set up a joke, deftly draw out the anecdote without getting in its way until the punchline. It’s quite the art, one I haven’t mastered. Niven makes it look easy. I just adore this book.