Boyd Anderson spent several years as a creative director in advertising, winning many awards in New York, Cannes, London, Los Angeles and Sydney. Boyd now writes historical fiction and lives in Sydney. The Heart Radical is his fifth novel and has just been released.
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Before this I read the typical boy’s adventure stories. After this I grew up. What was derring-do adventure compared to such raw passion and high emotion? After this I became selective and went looking for books that truly thrilled me, and none of them were actual ‘thrillers’.
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
This book thrilled me more than any before or since. I thought Joseph Heller was a genius. It made me laugh, cry, shiver and shout – in equal portion – even after the second, third, fourth reading. Most of all, it made me think. I think I thought it was the first time I wanted to write, although it took a long time for me to act on it, being kinda stuck with my own Catch 22 life. Furthermore, it has one of the best openings I’ve ever read, and just goes on from there. The second par is about jaundice, and that’s kinda the nub of it. Brilliant.
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
During my latter years of secondary school we studied a series of dystopian novels – Animal Farm, Brave New World, 1984, Day of the Triffids. They each explored human nature and the notion of individual welfare versus the common good. But the most fascinating for me was Lord of the Flies. Being of a similar age to all its characters I suppose it was the easiest to relate to. (And who doesn’t like a farting conch shell!) But taken as a whole, these books awakened me to political thought.
These 2 are of specific influence for the writing of The Heart Radical:
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
On a visit to my wife’s hometown, Ipoh in Malaysia, we visited her father’s old law office, which had become a restaurant. She found the back wall was still lined with his bookshelves. This set her off on an extraordinary stroll down memory lane, recalling the relationship they shared. She had often talked of him (he was long gone by this stage), but never before so movingly and in such detail. It had me recalling Scout and Atticus, and I started on the first chapter that night. Her father went on to be the first (and only) Chinese Chief Justice of Malaysia. The Heart Radical draws on his life, values and career for its inspiration, and is dedicated to him.
The Jungle is Neutral – F. Spencer Chapman
This is a true ripping yarn, one of the best you’ll ever read. And I really mean it – it’s all true! Chapman describes his years (nearly four of them) living wild in the Malayan jungle during WW2, with the ruthless Japanese hot on his heels. He blows up bridges, ambushes convoys, deals with tigers, snakes and leeches, survives the jungle, battles disease … and he tells it all with such cheerful confidence. Not a BOOM or a BLAM to be found. He is the primary inspiration for one of my lead characters in Amber Road, and a secondary character in The Heart Radical. It finishes so positively it is distressing to consider what happened to him after that, because he took his own life 25 years later.
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