I had never realized it before but there is something of Charles Ryder, the protagonist of ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ in the lead character of my Mavern novels. My current reread of ‘Brideshead’ led me to recognize this.
Society artist, dissatisfied with himself, looking for something more, something he has lost somewhere — yes, that would be Michael Malvern. Beyond that, of course, there are great differences. Ryder comes from British affluence; Malvern is a farm boy turned pugilist turned painter. One paints architecture, the other portraits, but both are catering to the tastes of society, the wealthy, the influential.
There are even rough seas in common. But where Charles Ryder sails on, Malvern’s ship sinks and their paths turn in quite different directions. The Malvern novels are, of course, fantasy adventures, not ‘mainstream’ work like Waugh’s. This does not mean that I didn’t attempt to be every bit as serious with my characters.
Was ‘Brideshead’ in my head somewhere when I wrote my novels? Undoubtedly, along with everything else I have ever read. I admit that I like the novel and admire Waugh’s prose style. There was also that memorable adaption for television that introduced me to the story. So it was an influence.
But I can also point out influences from Burroughs and Zelazny and Haggard and Defoe and plenty of others. Any writer has them.
The dissatisfied artist type appears rather frequently in my fiction, to be honest. I need only look into the mirror to find that influence. Certainly there is something of me in Michael Malvern. There is more of me in Ted Carrol in my Cully Beach novels. Neither IS me, of course.
That would be exceedingly boring.