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  • Writer's pictureNathan Nicolau

TWO's literary influences

With my debut novel, TWO, out now, I thought I'd take you through the writers who influenced me the most while writing it.

Haruki Murakami

Given his worldwide popularity, he needs no introduction. He is among my favorite living authors. Norwegian Wood was especially a big inspiration. I remember finishing that book and saying to myself, "I want to write a novel," and here I am now. TWO's opening is very Murakami-esque. The novel opens with one of the main characters, Ella, reciting an Italian opera to her favorite statue at a park. The other main character, Howl, listens on, thus starting the plot in motion. Surreal yet uniquely human—that's how I best describe Murakami's work.

Osamu Dazai

Dazai conveys loneliness and desperation in prose better than any other writer I've encountered. For the more reflective and melancholy moments in TWO, I turned to his masterwork No Longer Human for inspiration. Dazai had a strong literary voice as if confessing to the reader. Since nearly all of his work was autobiographical, it is easy to see why. The way he described gutwrenching emotions in his work continues to surprise me. It's hard to put exact feelings into words, but he uses eye-catching metaphors and imagery one wouldn't expect. It's hard for even me to describe! Just go and read him. You won't regret it.

James M. Cain

TWO has a light mystery element. The novel's overarching mystery is the unknown opera and how Ella can recite it. But really, the actual mysteries are Howl and Ella themselves. Both hide secrets from each other, only to constantly unravel themselves. Cain wrote two of my favorite crime/noir novels, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. Both are masterclasses in how to use simple, direct, yet visual prose that explores the character's psyches with as few words as possible, all while stringing audiences along. This is impressive, considering Cain's novels are almost entirely dialogue. While TWO isn't a seedy noir, I must thank Cain for showing me how a voice-driven, dialogue-heavy novel with an air of mystery can work.

Check out these authors if you're looking for something new to read. Don't forget to purchase TWO on Amazon, too!

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