It was my freshman year in college. A book started to circulate among a small group of my friends. When it finally came to me, the 600+ page novel was badly dog-eared, stained, and was dropped in the bathtub at least once (yes, that was me, sorry Matt). In the margins, each of my friends had written notes or reactions in different colored pens and pencils. Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is one of those books that came along in my lifetime and really defined not only where I was in young adulthood and struggling to identify myself...but also where I wanted to go. I had always loved writing stories--of the weird, scary Stephen King-grade--and suddenly I understood that books like these, books that created huge complex worlds, existed not only to help readers escape, but to help readers change.
Even if I never inspire change within a reader, I realized that I wanted to write novels. That same semester I enrolled in my first creative writing class, and I never looked back.
Check out this interview with Chabon where he discusses at length the origins and inspiration behind Kavalier and Clay, as well as the writing process.
Anything good that I have written has, at some point during its composition, left me feeling uneasy and afraid. It has seemed, for a moment at least, to put me at risk.
Michael Chabon, The Recipe for Life, The Washington Book World (2000)