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Interview

Michael Hoeye talks about writing and his favorite books.

Sometimes you wish you'd known about an author years ago. Well, readersvoice.com aims to save you a lot of time by telling you some of people's all-time favorite books. This is our first anniversary edition and it features an interview with Michael Hoeye, creator of watchmaking mouse Hermux Tantamoq.Hermux has appeared in Time Stops For No Mouse, and The Sands of Time. Michael Hoeye was putting the finishing touches on a third novel in the series at the time of the interview. So read on, and check out some previous editions for more great reading tips.

READERSVOICE.COM: Could you list your five favorite books of all time and what you liked about them?

MICHAEL HOEYE: It’s impossible for me to narrow a lifetime of reading down to five all-time favorite books. But here are five books that will probably always appear among my favorite one hundred.
Adventure: Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain. On the surface is the fun and the brilliance of Twain’s language. Woven throughout is the poignant fabric of American character – alternately innocent, sentimental, careless and brutal – but always hoping for a happy ending. And at the center of it is the surprising friendship between two outsiders – Huck and Jim – moral flaws and all. Not a perfect friendship. But one that is hard to forget.
Drama: Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens. It has amazing range. From terrifying to sweet. From gruesome misery to slapstick. It’s a page-turner that is so beautifully detailed that it’s difficult to turn the page. And that is a hard trick to pull off!

Mystery: The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett. It’s dark. It’s treacherous. There is not a wasted word in it. Can you spell double-cross?
Human nature: The Letters of E.B. White – E.B. White. If you ever want to spend some time with a decent, thoughtful, witty and kind person, E.B. White is just the guy. There is so much to be learned from him. About life. About friendship. About writing. About the complexity of being human.
Coming of age: My Antonia – Willa Cather. A perfect story set on the American plains. Blizzards happen. Crops die. Lives are lost. Hearts get broken. And young people grow up. Cather’s writing is graceful, clear and fluid. The characters are alive on the page.
Fantasy: The Earthsea Trilogy – Ursula LeGuin. I guess this is actually a quartet now. LeGuin creates a brilliantly coherent alternative world that is charged with magic. A significant part of the magic is the balancing trick she pulls off in her writing. The story lines are clean and compelling. But so are the moral issues she raises.

And on top of all that, it’s enormously fun to read.
Thinking: The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster. Ingenious. Delightful. Sizzling with ideas about imagination, thinking, and being. Uh-oh. Was that five? Well, as you can see, I was smart to have not pursued a career in mathematics.
RV: Could you cast an eye over your bookshelves and describe the sorts of books you have there?
MH: I have all the books mentioned above. I have books on mice, squirrels, chipmunks, bats, rats, and hamsters. I have books on clocks, circuses and magicians. I have lots of dictionaries. I have books on bugs including general books on bugs, specialized books on bugs, and books on specific types of bugs. I have no bug biographies although I am thinking of writing one. I have a whole shelf of atlases. I have all the mysteries of Raymond Chandler and most of Elmore Leonard. I have Guns, Germs & Steel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, Bless Me Ultima, Nickel and Dimed and Bel Canto. That’s as far as I can read from here.

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