A browse through the Amazon Top Selling Kindle e-book titles caused me to wonder, “What are the best selling authors inspired by?” Interestingly, the top six places are taken up by two trilogies: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James.
Suzanne Collins is reported to have been inspired to write her blockbuster novel while channel surfing between a Reality TV programme and coverage of the war in Iraq. The story is based around the Ancient Greek story of Theseus, and the Minotaur, with the heroine, Katniss as a futuristic Theseus.
Collins also reveals that the story was influenced by the sense of loss she felt by her father serving in the Vietnam War while she was a young girl.
Whereas The Hunger Games was already a best selling hardback and paperback book prior to its being made available as an e-book, Fifty Shades of Grey was simultaneously issued as a “print-on-demand” paperback and e-book.
E L James’ masterpiece was actually released by an Australian virtual publishing site, The Writer’s Coffee Shop. The book was initially promoted solely on blog posts and by word-of-mouth recommendations.
Fifty Shades of Grey was originally inspired by a fan fiction work, based on the Twilight books by Stephanie Myer.
One of the most successful authors in recent time, J K Rowling, claims to have been inspired by a variety of themes while writing her blockbusting Harry Potter series of tales. Hermione, a none-too-pleasant character, was based on Rowling during her adolescence years, the author reluctantly admits.
Writing the first Harry Potter story was actually inspired by a rather tiresome train journey endured by Rowling. As she was sitting for four hours on a delayed train between Manchester and London, Rowling mused about the idea of a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry.
Even the classic Ford Anglia was based on the car owned by a friend of Rowling in the upper sixth form, while she attended Wyedean College.
Arguably one of the greatest ever British novelists, Charles Dickens was inspired by the poverty and social injustice that filled his younger life. Dickens was forced to work in a boot blacking factory in order to help support his mother and siblings, while his father served time in a debtors’ prison.
Many of Dickens’ novels were originally written as weekly or monthly instalments, which gave him the unique opportunity to style plots and subplots during the lifetime of each particular story, no doubt subject to being influenced by feedback from his readers.
This post has offered us a brief look at what best selling authors are inspired by when writing their classic novels. From the Victorian social critic to the futuristic post-apocalyptic fantasist, authors throughout the ages have been influenced by recurring themes of social injustice, romance and fantasy.
We, in turn, at Double Head Publishing, have been inspired to delve deeper into these, and various other themes, in more depth, during the coming weeks.