All of us are influenced by something or someone. This adds modifiers to our life for ill or good. In the life of a writer, those influences can be readily seen in their work. Sometimes you have to search for it, and sometimes it shouts in your face and kicks your head in. I thought I would take a moment and list a few of my influences. “I thought they were readily seen?” you may ask. With much of my work, as yet, unpublished, I feel that I must do a little shouting. So, in no particular order I give you a few of my influences:
- The Bible. This book is filled to the brim with the struggle of good and evil, light and darkness, sin and righteousness. As a whole, it tells an amazing story of love and grace. There are profiles of incredible courage and faith as well as horrible misdeeds and destruction. The blind being made to see, the bones of dead men walking, fire from the heavens, ghosts and witches, angels and demons, wars and family squabbles, kings and prophets, and all manner of supernatural events. It is difficult to not be influenced, in way or another, by such things found here.
- Dragonlance. The original Dragonlance series by Magaret Weis and Tracy Hickman to be exact. I believe this was the first series of books that I read, or more like devoured. The various characters that comprised the Heroes of the Lance, became like family. It has been a long time since I read those books, but the feel of the adventures and the aspects of the characters such as Raistlin and Caramon and Tanis and Tasslehoff and Flint and Sturm and Laurana, echo often in my mind.
- The Universal monsters. I have no idea when it started, but I have a special fondness for the staple of movie monsters that Universal made popular. I never tire of watching the old black and white movies haunted by Dracula, the Wolf-Man, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, the Invisible Man and the Creature. These are beings that live just outside of the normal world with fantastic and often tragic stories. Misunderstood or malevolent, these monsters continue to find new ways of reinventing themselves and staying fresh. Perhaps it is because they whisper to something deep inside each of us. Maybe it is because what frightens us also fascinates us. Either way, I am a fan.
- The Three Musketeers and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. This may surprise none of you, but I am a romantic. These two novels, more than any other, speak to that romantic writer in me. I am referring not to being in love (however, there is much to love in the language and prose found here), but in that classical sense of the word. These are stories that are pumped from the heart to the page through the pen. Stories of horror, adventure, honor, pain, grief and a whirlwind of human emotion. I cannot shake them ‘ere I try.
- The movies of John Carpenter. I can still remember the first time I watched Halloween. The way that Carpenter used the widescreen format is nothing short of haunting. He showed us a boogeyman of pure evil that would not be stopped, but framed him in such a way as to be instantly mythical. I could say the same of many of the films in the Carpenter filmography. The Fog is another personal favorite. Escape From New York is dripping with cool. The Thing is a remake that eclipses the original in every way. Big Trouble in Little China is filled to the brim with so much of the things I love that I can’t help but take it as a personal letter to me. I envision all of my writings as a John Carpenter movie as I’m writing them.
- Honorable mention: Robert E. Howard, Marvel Comics, William Shakespeare, Zhang Yimou, Danny Elfman, Shaw Brothers, The Monster Squad, Stephen King, Vincent Price and Edgar Allen Poe.