M. Kelly Peach is a husband, father of four adult children and grandfather of four grandsons. He enjoys reading, writing, collecting books, baking, and camping. He’s been a taco fryer, dishwasher, cook, library aide, maintenance helper, teacher, workforce development professional, supervisor, and, for the State of Michigan, a Project Zero Coordinator, Eligibility Specialist, and Community Resource Coordinator. His Twitter account is @MichaelPeach. He has works published or appearing in various venues including (but not limited to): Poetry Pea, Alternate Hilarities I-III, Mad Scientist Journal, Summer Issue 2014, Entropy, Woods-N-Water News, Inverted Syntax, Tales from Fiddler’s Green, Cheapjack Pulp, Unsung Stories, Woods Reader, Resist with Every Inch and Every Breath, In Medias Res: Stories of the In-Between, and Bloody Red Nose: Fifteen Fears of a Clown.
Who influenced me as a writer is easy to answer. I simply look at my library to see the authors whose works I have most of, or all of. See below for that list. Who on this list influenced me the most is impossible to answer.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, I can never forget my first literary love. ERB was introduced to me by my fifth grade teacher Mr. Rafferty who taught me to love reading.
Jeffrey Farnol, another of Mr. Rafferty’s writers.
H. Rider Haggard, again, Mr. Rafferty made the introduction.
Robert E. Howard, I discovered on my own. Mr. Rafferty did not approve.
Arthur C. Clarke, Mr. R. had me read Against the Fall of Night. My mind was blown and I was hooked on science fiction.
Isaac Asimov, I only have twenty of his books, a mere fraction of his prodigious output. Nonetheless, he deserves a spot on the list.
Ray Bradbury, I discovered his books in high school and would read them during class.
Lord Dunsany, master fantasist I discovered in junior high in an anthology called The Young Magicians edited by Lin Carter as part of his Adult Fantasy series for Ballantine Books. Over the years I have read and collected almost all of the books in this series.
Harlan Ellison, great writer, difficult man. We will never know for certain, but I’m pretty sure he had his childhood bully offed. You don’t fuck with Harlan. I hope to someday see the Last Dangerous Visions.
Stephen King, a gifted writer and natural-born story-teller. He has to be on the list even though I only have thirty-seven of his works.
Anne McCaffrey, introduced to me by my wife and it was love at first sight.
Terry Pratchett, I ordered The Colour of Magic from the Science Fiction Book Club on a whim and became addicted like it was literary crack cocaine.
Kurt Vonnegut, mandatory reading for every college freshman in the 70’s. I was intrigued by the way he structured his stories.
Robert A. Heinlein, discovered as an adult, relatively late in the game, but devoured everything I could get my hands on.
George Orwell, a literary craftsman, the most honest writer I’ve ever read.
James Branch Cabell, a writer’s writer.
Tennessee Williams, I have all of his plays in the two volume LOA series.
Eugene O’Neill, again, all of his plays in three LOA volumes.
e.e. cummings, I asked for and received as a high school graduation present his Complete Poetry.
Robert Frost, another Complete Poetry.
Edgar Allan Poe, perhaps the greatest American writer. I wrote a seminar paper about The Conqueror Worm in college. In researching for the paper I realized one could write a tragedy for the stage based solely on the events of his so very tragic life. And so I did, calling it BiPOElar.
Mark Twain, effortlessly brilliant, which tells me how hard he worked at his craft.
Cormac McCarthy, a master of the written word. I still think The Road is the best, 21st century American novel to this point.
Richard Russo, a superb author and current writer I follow with great interest.
Zadie Smith, another brilliant, current writer. I started with her essays then had to read her novels. I just picked up a copy of Intimations.
Jim Harrison, arguably the best native Michigander writer despite his flawed later novels.
David Foster Wallace, unquestionably a genius. His powerhouse writing is an irresistible torrent of words and ideas.
Arthur Miller, is the greatest of our 20th century American playwrights. Death of a Salesman is probably my favorite play. I made it part of the curriculum for English classes I taught in high school.
Jack Vance, another writer’s writer. His novel The Dying Earth is a masterpiece of hybrid science fiction and fantasy.
Mark Helprin, superb novelist and wordsmith with a relatively small body of work.
H. P. Lovecraft, the king of cosmic horror whose Cthulhu mythos has spawned countless short stories, poems, movies, songs, and novels.
J. R. R. Tolkein, is, quite simply, the master.
Dylan Thomas, the best 20th century English-language poet.