Treasure Island and Kidnapped were the real bridge for me between the child’s world and the adult’s. Essentially, they were the books that turned me into a novelist, and they did partly through the beauty of the language and partly through the sheer gallop of story but mostly because they made me preoccupied with the kinds of questions that novelists ask. Why do smart people make foolish decisions? Why are honest people so vulnerable to lies, and trusting ones so susceptible to flattery and manipulation? If all people are fallible — a mixture of good and bad — at what point does the equation tip and a good person become bad and vice versa? Why is Mr. Shuan brutal when he’s drunk and kind when he’s sober, and Mr. Hoseason brutal when he’s sober and kind when he’s drunk? And why does Alan Breck — brave and generous as he is — behave so childishly sometimes?
The word romance has been used to describe (and to dismiss) Stevenson’s work for the last hundred years. But I’ve always wondered more critics don’t see that Treasure Island, despite its fanciful stage trappings (spyglasses, cutlasses, pieces of eight), is despite its many enchantments a work of frightful psychological realism. Like Barrie, he is a magician, with an uncommon power to charm; but where Peter Pan throws off a glimpse of something bright and unyielding and incorruptible that borders on the divine, Stevenson maintains the same enchantment and yet remains wholly human. And it’s why I’ve read his books obsessively over and over and over again throughout my life, so much that they’ve now become a part of my own character — and certainly a part of my own work as a writer. Donna Tart (via theredshoes)