A Spring Day in College Sealed My Fate
It was a bright, clear spring day in New England in 1985. I was a third year pharmacy student at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy on Longwood Avenue. The school is situated in the Fenway section of Boston directly across the street from Harvard Medical School (I mention this because I want you to think that some of that intelligence rubbed off or was in the air and I inhaled large doses of it!) and near Emerson College, the Berklee College of Music and, of course, Fenway Park. I remember it quite clearly because it was day I decided that someday I would be a writer of novels. This epiphany occurred in the school library on the second floor of the main building.
A little background: I read one of two genres growing up; suspense/thrillers and anything related to baseball. From the time I was able to read until I graduated from high school, I believe I read every issue of Baseball Digest from cover to cover. I studied baseball like it was a prerequisite for college. My knowledge of the game far exceeds my talent for hitting a curve or making a throw to first from deep in the hole at short.
Once I hit college and realized that Major League scouts did not routinely visit Greater Boston Small College Conference games in search of the next Ted Williams or Hank Aaron, my dream of earning a living playing baseball stayed just that-a dream. So I concentrated on studying molecules, chemical reactions and aliquots. With any free time, I consumed the writings of the great, Robert Ludlum.
Yes, that Robert Ludlum. I have read every novel the original Robert Ludlum ever wrote. I became acquainted with Ludlum’s work around 1975 when I read the Road to Gandolfo. I was fifteen and hooked. I quickly purchased the previous six books in paperback. Whenever he published a new novel, I went to the book store and purchased a first edition hardcover. That day in college, in the library, I was draped over a cushy chaise, reading The Bourne Identity. I was late for my medicinal chemistry class because I was in the middle of a gripping chapter and refused to put it down.
Ludlum’s ability to suck the reader into his characters, his environs and stories was first class. His plots were byzantine, complex and perfect. He kept me on the edge of my seat. And it was on that particular day, I said to myself, “I’d like to write a novel.” I never told anyone about that revelation during my college years. It remained a latent yet, powerful, burning ember of desire.
After some years of dabbling with short stories and an aborted manuscript, I finished my first book, The Cyclops Conspiracy. It took a while, but that ember sparked into a full-fledged inferno. I followed Cyclops with a second, Second Chance and am currently working on my third book, a sequel entitled The Cyclops Revenge which will be out some time next year. Thank you, Mr. Ludlum for inspiring me to be a writer.
I have borrowed with honor some of the Ludlum’s techniques in my own writing. His novels of international intrigue are not just shoot’em-ups with lot of explosions and car chases. Ludlum had the ability to create deep, thoughtful characters woven into complex plots. It was his ability to make me feel that I was inside the protagonist’s head. He drew out details in his descriptions that transported me to the streets of Paris, Washington D.C. or London.
I say with unabashed pride that I have used Ludlum’s writing (and to a smaller extent, Tom Clancy’s) as a model for my own writing. My stories about pharmacists and pharmacy are my own. But my work has been influenced by these two great writers.
With quality fiction, readers can escape into distant worlds, future times or, even, just escape into a present day plot of action and adventure. Well written fiction is one of life’s great pleasures. Writers are the purveyors of that pleasure. It is an awesome privilege and extremely rewarding to be able to provide a pleasurable escape to my readers.
As writers, we all have one or two writers who have shaped our writing style. Re-read your favorite writer(s), analyze their techniques and learn from them. Understand why these writers resonate with you as a reader. Incorporate them into your own work for added punch.
If you need assistance with your writing, e-mail through this website.
©David Perry 2015