The NYTimes interviewed him about the books and writers that had the most influence on his work:
…Whom would you consider your literary heroes?
I would have to say that Mark Twain is up there with the gods and probably cursing it. “Life on the Mississippi” blew my mind. And, of course, reading him meant that I got to read “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” I hope it’s still read and that people read the book he wanted people to see, because I know that some editions leave out the fact that the Yankee boy killed most of the famous Knights of the Round Table using electricity. Now that is fantasy.
Which novels have had the most impact on you as a writer? Is there a particular book that made you want to write?
It has to be “The Wind in the Willows.” It fascinated me. He had toads living in great country houses and badgers and moles acting like British gentlemen. I read the pages so often they fell apart, and God bless him for leaving in the pieces called “Wayfarers All” and “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” I am sorry to say that certain publishers, who really should know better, have produced editions with those pieces cut from that wonderful book, stating they were simply too heavy for children. I scream at stuff like that. After all, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” was a book written for children. A good book, no matter its intended audience, should get people reading, and that’s what started me writing. And once I started, I never stopped…
And if you could bring only three books to a desert island, which would you choose?
“Boatbuilding for Beginners,” “Poisonous Plants of the South Pacific” and a very good seafood cookery book…
Apart from being grateful for the literature we love, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?