Guest Author! Christopher Loke on the Books That Inspire Him

Author Christopher Loke

Today I have a very special guest author, Christopher Loke. Christopher received his MA in communications and journalism from Utah State University. He currently heads the fledging and fabulous publishing house Jolly Fish Press as executive editor. His debut novel, THE HOUSEKEEPER’S SON, is pulling in rave reviews and is an incredibly interesting read. I highly recommend it – click the link on the title for my full review.

Christopher lives in a quiet neighborhood near a lake in Provo, Utah, with his lovely wife and young son.

Chris is one of the most-well read people I have ever met and his taste is impeccable (and not just ’cause he acquired my trilogy 🙂 ) I asked Chris to share some of the books that have inspired him as a reader and a writer.

Take it away, Chris!!
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I’ve read a lot of books in my life so far, and while I’ve enjoyed every book I read, there are a few remarkably written ones that stand out. These are the books that speak to me, affecting the way I think and write one way or another. So, without much ado, here are some of the books that have impacted my life:
The Atonement by Ian McEwan
This is a story about redeeming oneself from a despicable mistake committed in the past as one woman attempts to right the wrong of her past by using her pen.
Other than McEwan’s eloquent prose and powerful narrative, THE ATONEMENT speaks to me as a writer. It reminds me of the power I have within the grip of my pen (or the tap of my keyboard) that has the ability to affect the lives of my readers. Whenever I read McEwan’s beautiful narrative, I am astounded and filled with hope—that I, too, can make a change in the world. Not necessarily through battles and wars I am not fit to fight, but through words. For every life-changing revolution almost always starts with a pen.
I remember reading Queen Elizabeth I’s biography many years ago, and one thing that struck me then—and still very much so today—was her courage to achieve what she set to achieve. Her determination was immense, and in the midst of leading a country of men as a woman, she announced at Tilbury that while she might be “a weak and feeble woman,” she had “the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.” Such is my feeling whenever I read THE ATONEMENT. I may be a writer, but with my pen in hand, I can become anyone I choose.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
This is a novel about a doctor who gives away his newborn daughter who has Down syndrome during the sixties, lying to his wife that she was a stillborn. The nurse who is supposed to bring the baby to an institution decides, halfway there, to keep the baby. She moves to a different state and raises the child as her own until the child is old enough to learn about the truth. Everything unfolds when the child’s biological mother slowly finds out about the daughter she thought was dead.
What keeps me turning the pages of this book is how Edwards paces the narrative of the book. The plot is simple, yet the story is complicated. The narrative dwells in the minds and psyches of the characters while retaining the reality of things. As the nurse raises the disabled girl, she faces many challenges. She is now a single mother devoted to a disabled child, and every step that she and her “daughter” take together is an achievement. The question of morality is raised without providing an answer. The narrative begs the question: who is the rightful mother and who should the girl choose should she have to choose only one.
Social issues make delicate subjects in literature; they make the readers think, and more often than not, they educate and enlighten. Good writers don’t just write a story; they put certain subject matters in perspective for the readers. As writers, we have the responsibility to remind the world the fundamental things of being human, that there is a certain decency in us that should never be forgotten. And that is what Edwards did when she wrote her book. We should always emulate that kind of quality in our books no matter our genre.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
When I first read this book, I thought this was just a vampire novel. But no. This was more than just a book about vampires or Dracula. This is a book about history, geography, and love. Unlike the other vampire novels in the market, THE HISTORIAN is a travelogue as well; it gives the reader a more in-depth look at the culture and history of vampires.
It’s all about substance, which is the core of any literature. Any writing that has no substance is fluff. Kostova’s narrative is a good example of how you can write a vampire novel without just skimming on the surface. She goes further into the research, the setting, the characters involved, the pacing and the emotion. These are elements that really breathe life into your novel, because they give it character; and oftentimes, character is all that matters.

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Need I say more. This series not only encourages young people to read, it gives the world a little something to hang on to. Rowling’s narrative is witty, humorous, and spectacular. But most importantly, it is an endearing story of growing up and standing for everything right.
The one thing I learn most from Rowling’s writing is the importance of a structured and well-planned plot. While many writers find themselves more comfortable writing as their “inspiration” takes them, having an extensive plot can really give the narrative the fuel it needs to drive the story. With a good and complete plot, the writing becomes easier because we will have known exactly where the story is going to take us. The plot, as Rowling illustrates in her narrative, is true magic in itself.
So there you have it, the books that inspire me and why. These are but a few of the many books that have helped me in my writing—the actual list is much longer. As writers, it is crucial that we read, for how else can we obtain the vast knowledge out there if not from the literature that defines our society and civilization.
I’d like to see a discussion in the comments below on the book that inspires you and why. 
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Thanks so much, Christopher!


And don’t forget to read Chris’ new book, The Housekeeper’s Son.

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4 thoughts on “Guest Author! Christopher Loke on the Books That Inspire Him

  1. Great discussion topic, Chris and Teri. These are compelling plots! I couldn't begin to list all the books that inspire me. Non-fiction wise, I'd have to say Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen. His climb of the Himalayan mountain that changed him into a crusader building schools for the poor villages in Afghanistan to combat the pervasive indoctrination by radical mosques is powerful as narrative and as a catalyst toward seeking one's own life-mission.As for fiction, I go through phases between drama and humor. Cold Comfort Farm has to be my all time favorite for humor. The drawing of the characters, broken and dysfunctional, and the way the main character, Flora Poste, is able to set each one of the unfortunate Starkadders on a path that's a healthy outlet for their eccentricities just gives me so much joy. Plus I can't stop laughing when I think about the line, "I saw something nasty in the woodshed." "Sure you did, baby, but did it see you?"

  2. Great list of books. I was glad to see Harry Potter on there (I love that series), and I hadn't heard of "The Memory Keeper’s Daughter" by Kim Edwards, but now I'm intrigued and will look into reading it. Thanks for the informative post Chris and Teri!

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