Friday, July 6, 2007

Where do you come from?

It's probably one of the most frequently asked questions of authors, but it's one of my favorites. "Who are your influences?" I like to try to look down the road the authors have walked (in a literary sense), getting a feel for books that had the greatest impact. What did they take away from those keen minds and can you hear echoes of those old voices in that author's stories?

My background is a somewhat motley mix. The heaviest influences in my own work come from my classical literary background. I love the Romantics and the Victorians. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Oscar Wilde's Dorian Grey are a pair of the best studies of the human psyche. Of course, LeRoux's Phantom was just heart-wrenching. Moving forward, Hemmingway and Fitzgerald were kings of subtly and understatement, painting worlds within worlds through a careful turn of phrase. And not to be forgotten is Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Of course, there's a mix of poetry in there, with Dickinson, Atwood, Coleridge, Cummings, and too many others to even try to name.

Now we head out of traditional literature. I think some of the best storytelling I've encountered, delving into the dark corners of the human mind and soul comes from the '90s Batman, particularly under the direction of Denis O'Neil. Yeah, I'm a hopeless Batman fanatic and it started during the early '90s with the Batman animated series. After that, I started reading and collecting anything I could get my hands on. The antiquated idea of honor appealed to me and carries a heavy weight with my own characters.

Finally, in traditional fantasy, one of my favorite storytellers is Raymond Feist. I started reading his series in high school and he was the first writer to ever make me cry. He also the only one for a very, very long time. Not only does tell a darn good story, but he creates these amazing characters that live with you forever. Feist wasn't the one who got me writing, but he's the one who makes me want to be the absolute best writer I can be.

So, I've rambled enough for one night, but before you go, if you write, tell me what writer has had the heaviest influence on you.


c.rooney said...

Hello, I found you via Rachel Vincent. :)

I think writers who have a wide range to their background write more diverse and interesting works. They have more to sample from than just a single genre or particular style.

I also enjoyed The Portrait of Dorian Grey.

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors as well, but he shares the spot with Charles de Lint and Vicki Pettersson.

alternatefish said...

Dorian Grey....sigh....I am more than slightly obsessed with Oscar Wilde, though Lolita is kind of the greatest book ever. I also still carry the influence of all the fantasy I read as a teen/preteen (Patricia C. Wrede, Tamora Pierce, Pullman).

So combine Wrede and Wilde, add a dash of Nabokov and Pullman, and you have my ideal writer. If I ever figure out to make that work, I'll let you know. :)

p.s. congrats on the book deal!