I’ve been asked a few times recently, who do I aspire to be like? That answer is simple. No one. I don’t want to be the next what’s-her-name, or be seen as so-and-so’s antithesis. I want my story to be one that is appreciated on its own.
However, I am sure my influences will be seen in the novel.
As a reader, I search for books that have something that excites me. Something that sparks my interest and keeps me reading. That may be a well written fantasy novel (Anthony Ryan, Brent Weeks, Susan Dennard), or a genre specific series (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris), or even a true horror story (Jeanne Kalogridis, Jonathan Maberry, Adam Nevill, Christopher Golden, Anne Rice). Of course, I would hope to bring the same excitement to my readers.
Do I feel I can paint a landscape like Anthony Ryan? No. Do I feel I could surpass the success of those who came before me? I don’t know. Do I think I can create tension and grab the reader, sinking my claws in and immersing them into my world? I hope so.
Have I pulled elements from what I’ve read? Of course. There is not a writer alive who hasn’t used the techniques, landscapes, phrasing, or even simple genre outlines of their predecessors.
Honestly, what is the point of writing if you are not well read? How would you determine if you had something worth reading?
As for inspiration, mine comes from many different aspects of my life. I’ve always heard, “Write what you know.” I agree with that wholeheartedly. Speculative Fiction is an exciting way to put twists and turns on what people already know and accept. However, in order to make something widely accepted new and exciting, you must know the essentials of the world (or in my case, monsters) you want to write about. I grew up on Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark. I ventured onto Fear Street. I craved movies that made me shriek or want to close my eyes. Eventually, that led me to picking up anything that showcased monsters. For years, horror was the only genre I would read. The rest wasn’t worth my time. So, I was inspired to add my own manuscript into the mix. What better company could I hope for than that which shaped my mind?
Music is another huge inspiration. I have always had the ability to visualize scenes when music plays. While writing, I am never without my headphones. This is most prevalent in my character Nicholas. I have quite literally used a specific artist’s entire body of work to form his character. While listening to this artists music I was inspired to create a balance to my main character. He is everything she isn’t, but wants to be. However, not all of his qualities are good. He is jealous, quick tempered and very much alpha-male. Can I say that about the artist? Of course not. I don’t know him personally, but that’s why it’s called inspiration.
Music is also a great inspiration for setting a scene. On the front page of this blog, you will see the original “soundtrack” to the novel. All have inspired specific scenes within the book and have helped me set the mood while writing. As the book has taken shape, other artists and genres have come into play. While I relish hard-rock, I’ve had to step away from it from time to time to find different kinds of inspiration. “Levels” – Nick Jonas and “Cake by the Ocean” – DNCE have been on rotation since adding a clubesque scene. “Come Crashing” – Digital Daggers and “Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding were added when I decided there needed to be some romance.
I am also inspired by the people around me. I own a coffee mug that states, “I’m a writer, anything you say or do may end up in a novel”, and it’s true. When you hear a funny joke, do you keep it to yourself? Of course not. When you hear an asinine, or provocative story, do you say to yourself “better bottle that one up?” No. You tell someone. Being observant is part of being a writer. Sometimes that means conversations, anecdotes, or simple body language, are observed and translated to paper.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few influences and have barely struck the nail of my inspirations, but that’s all I have for today. Maybe I will touch on others later.