Books and films that have influenced my short stories
Starting with books…
Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl. Maybe some of the concepts in this book seem a bit dated…but then it was published in 1960 and times were rather different then. Would you call your short story “Parson’s Pleasure” and the main character Cyril Boggis? If you don’t know this story it is about a shady antiques dealer, who takes advantage of naïve country types, and comes across a priceless Chippendale commode, which he acquires for twenty pounds with the intention of selling it for twenty thousand. What we can safely say about Roald Dahl’s stories is that there is a significant twist at the end of each story. It is this aspect that really influenced my short story writing.
With my own short stories, like Dahl, I try to include an unexpected twist at the end. With short stories, you face limits, you have create characters, that the reader will immediately identify with. You have to create strong dialogue. You have to create an opening sentence like no other, that grabs the reader’s attention. Some people believe that authors graduate from being short story writers into full novel writers, a kind of literary rite of passage…me…I really like this format of writing. My work might be much darker than Roald Dahl might have dared…but I really admire his work and “Kiss Kiss” for will always be very special to me.
Any book by Rupert Thompson.
I encountered this author while he was writing his first book “Dreams of Leaving”. I was an Art student at the time, my dream to become a famous painter…Rupert at the time was the boyfriend of an Art College friend and was a bit older than me. He came from a similar boarding education as me, but he and his brother, who I also got know, were of a rebellious nature. His sentences are always sharp, his observations equally cutting. More recently I read a book called “This Party’s Got to stop” which is not fictional, but based on the period when I was in contact with him…it is a moving account of when his father died. It is moving, witty but it has a real edge to it.
So onto films…
I have no idea when I first saw “Kind Hearts and Coronets” It is a film that dates back to 1949 and stars in multiple of roles Sir Alec Guinness. It is a story about a man who ends up in prison having systematically killed off all the relations who stand in his way of claiming the Dukedom. This film had a big influence on one of my short stories, named “Duke”. It is a story about a man who conceivably might not even be a real Duke, but a man who has all the airs and graces of a Duke…unfortunately for him he is in Prison and worst still for some unspecified crime he has been sentenced to death. Like in the film he is afforded all the privileges of a Duke and treats his time in prison like a sojourn and seems indifferent, in deed flippant concerning his impending death.
Another film that influenced one of my short stories is a film called “The Stepford Wives” (the original version, not the more recent version 2004 version with Nicole Kidman starring). The film is about a young family arrive in a town called Stepford…a town populated by “perfect women” who service their husband’s needs. It comes to light that the women are in fact “duplicates”. My short story is called “Body Parts”. It is set in the near future, a world in which rich Industrialist types can go to a factory and have their “ideal woman” assembled. Once assembled they can expect a perfect wife…one that is fully obedient and compliant to all of their needs. When multimillionaire Dalton Kane, goes to the factory to purchase an android woman, he gets more than he bargains for, as his intended has a mind of her own, and is far from submissive to his demands.
Follow Francis H Powell on Twitter.
BUY Flight of Destiny