From a Q & A at the website of Brett Battles, author of The Cleaner:
Tell us about your influences, and how you came to be a writer?Read the entire Q & A.
I'm not sure exactly when the idea came to me that I wanted to be a writer, but I do remember that as early as fifth grade I would tell people that's what I was going to do. (Little did I know how much work it would take and how long it would be before I fulfilled that dream.)
But I guess the inspiration to be a writer came from my love of reading. I can thank my parents for that. They are both huge readers. I can remember that every night after my dad came home from work, he would read for an hour or so, while the chaos of our household unfolded around him.
He was a huge sci-fi fan, so, naturally, I also became one. I read as much as I could by masters of the genre like Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov, and works by lesser known, but equally talented writers, like James White.
As I grew older, my tastes expanded. I didn't completely quit reading sci-fi, but I did branch out. I think I read almost everything by Alistair MacLean, and Jack Higgins. And I also read a little book called BLACK SUNDAY by Thomas Harris several times. While science fiction stories were often thrillers, MacLean, Higgins, and Harris exposed me to a different kind of thriller — those set in our world, in our time.
Those weren't the only authors who influenced me, but they were some of the most important. Still, it would be a mistake to leave out two other authors who have been huge effect on me. The first is Stephen King. THE STAND is a book I've read over half a dozen times. And THE DARK TOWER series is simply brilliant.
The second is the late Graham Greene. There is a sadness to Greene's work that grips me and pulls me in. And he does it all with a simple, sparse style that I admire. If you haven't read Graham Greene before, you should give him a shot. Try THE QUIET AMERICAN, or THE HEART OF THE MATTER, or OUR MAN IN HAVANA.
The Page 69 Test: The Cleaner.