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What Are Your Influences?

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  • What Are Your Influences?

    I thought it might be useful to have some understanding of people's influences, how we respond to them, how we want to build up from them?


    Film: Kubrick, Italian Neo-Realism.

    Art: Young CK: Surrealists. Pre-Raf. I was turned off by Robert Williams at first, but I find I really like his work these days. I was wondering if, in this respect, P-X might include material that's a little more on edge--like the drawing of the mad writier I posted last night on the LSN thread. At the same time, I'd like to see beautiful, positive images too. Older CK: Um, I really really like the work that Gainsborough did in the 10-15 years before he died. Subject matter, his style, and also his experiments with light--anticipating Turner, clearly, and in some ways better.

    Writers: Early CK: Howard, Moorock, J.G. Ballard and the New Worlds group, Clark Ashton Smith, Melville, Blake. Older CK: Same influences, and Peacock, Milton and Hawthorne, Robert Burton, Aristophanes, Aeschylus. Ah, Rabelais--the best!

    Music: Rock/Jazz: Zappa, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gentle Giant, Tull, Donovan, Yardbirds, Zep. Classical: Beethoven, Bach, Rossini, Greig, Debussey. And the guy who did the music for the original Star Trek--not necessarily the theme, but the background music. Epic.

    I don't have any "anxiety of influence". That is, I don't need to challenge my influences, or even engage with them dialogically. Rather, I'm watching what they are doing , seeing how they solve creative problems. And I suppose, ahem, I am aboard for the Milton/Locke/ Jefferson/Hawthorne political program: Calvinist with liberalizing Arminian qualifications. That is, without a powerful, educated middle class the world will swirl down the potty. I have passable beat party manners, but I am not a bad boy. Drug free. Drink v. little. Um, don't have too. I am already there.

    Another influence: hiking, and I must confess that I am dizzy over women who are "pretty pretty"--baby dolls, if you take my meaning. And I like to write about being in love. He he he. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, you see. It was part of the culture.

    A brief statement, but I wanted to share this. And what of the rest of you? Please do tell.

  • #2
    Everytime I write a story I am trying to escape the strange influence of Bridget Jones... well, not just her. There's always been that tendency for me to write romantic comedy... even when I was at my most cynical and anti-romantic, I always seemed to be trying to get two characters together for a happy ending. I suppose that would be classed as a "negative" influence, even though I do love a good rom-com.

    Drawing-wise, I'd say my work was a poor man's Evan Dorkin or Philip Bond... they were always my faves back in the Deadline days, and I see their lines in a lot of things I draw. In terms of dialogue I hail Tarantino and Whedon as masters, although there's a lot to be said for The Coen Brothers too (between Crimewave and Big Lebowski). There are many other writers/artists I admire, but couldn't honestly say that I've been able to tap into what it was I admired about them. WS Burroughs is great, but I couldn't write a "Spare Ass Annie" for all the fudge in Cornwall. Likewise Wilde, who I greatly admire, but simply don't have the wit, sophisitication or education to emulate.

    Both musically, and in terms of my early exposure to comics, I have a thing for strong, funny, smart women so anytime I can listen/read/watch them at work I'm happy... and in my own work I think that "influence" is fairly apparent. In general, if I have an "agenda", it's just to put work out there which gives time and space to the sort of characters I would want to read about. Those characters are based on actors or musicians for the most part, so they all have a fairly direct influence on my work... and usually get an acknowledgement in the character's name!

    Mike is very inspiring on a number of levels, but I don't want to gush. Anyone who has read his books or spent some time reading his responses in the Q&A will know what I mean. :)

    Edit: Really needed some revision: Grammar, spelling, sense, etc.
    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild


    • #3
      Influences. Hmmm. First would probably be Raymond Chandler. That voice and that way of telling a story. As Stephen King says, Chandler is lethally easy to imitate. I think I've escaped most of that now, though the occasional Chandlerism still creeps in to my first person prose.
      Lester Dent, sometimes known as Kenneth Robeson. My third person writing voice probably owes more to Dent than to any other writer.
      Edgar Rice Burroughs. Pace and pure sense of wonder.
      Robert E. Howard. Full force storytelling and the ability to channel his own emotions to the page. Harder than it sounds. Plus, I just like Conan.
      Lin Carter. Yeah, Lin Carter. Not the world's most original writer but he truly loved the sword & sorcery genre.
      Fritz Lieber. Mood, atmosphere, earthy heroes and dark humor. Possibly the best fantasy writer ever.
      Jack Kirby. The ultimate comic book creator. My childhood hero and still a source of wonder and a boon to my imagination. I think my muse looks like Kirby.
      Our own Michael Moorcock. Original, restless, always seeking new directions and unwilling to settle for the successes of the past.
      Robert B. Parker. His heroes are obsessed with the same things that obsess me. Personal honor and responsibility to your friends. Accountability.
      There are more but those are the ones that pop to mind early on a Sunday morning.



      • #4
        I've been influenced by a lot of things, just about everything that I read has some sort of influence on my writing, be it wanting to try to do something like such an such an author or attempting to avoid the flaws in such and such an authors work. But there are somethings that have had much more influence on me than most. The first being my dad (who told me stories when I was a little kid, and read to me, and pointed me to good books...); he is probably the person who has shaped my writing style the most.

        When it comes to authors, I have a rather long list of authors who have left a serious impact on my writing style. Some of them are: Robert Heinlein (one of the people that i read most avidly as a kid), Roger Zelazny ( mainly in the form of his book A Night in the Lonesome October which I read once a year since I was nine), Ursula K. LeGuin, Tamora Peirce (she's a kid's writer, I know, but I really enjoyed her books and some of the themes that I enjoy using in stories stem directly from reading her books), Steven Brust, Jane Linskold, Patricia Briggs, Lynn Flewelling... and many others. Those are just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head who had the greatest influence on my writing placed in fairly cronological order.

        Other than that, i am greatly influenced by the music that I listen to. I have had an entire story concept form based on listening to a song. I don't really have in artistic influences to my writing, and when it comes to drawing, I am a very bad artist, but I tend to draw anime style. Thinking of that I watch a lot of anime and read a lot of manga, so that as alomost certainly had a huge affect on my writing. I don't feel the need to list off all my favorite anime and manga, but they tend to be in the fantasy or science fiction genre, similarly to what I like in books.

        I think that is about it. If i think of anything major that I forgot, I'll post it later.

        S. Ombre


        • #5
          Mike masterfully uses musical structure in narrative fiction quite frequently, as I'm sure you know, S _Ombre. In technical terms, I'm a musical imbecile, but I'm working on it as I have always seen music as the fundamental art form (see previous posts yadda yadda).
          Also, some of the best fiction is from children's writers. I mean, E. Nesbit. Way to go.


          • #6
            This is intersting. I rahter think my influences are those people who have inspired me--hence my mantra in my 20s: I dunno, I listen to that Tull stuff and it makes me want to write novels." Though, in retrospect, there isn't much Tull evident in my writing from that time. My influences are the figures that get me to thinking, and then one thing leads to another. I think if I could write like someone else, I would write like Rabelais. HE was definately tuned into something


            Has everyone read Mike's Death is No Obstacle? I was delighted to learn that his preperation was like mine: a notebook (almost a sort of scrapbook) of odd ideas and images, and an outline. That's what I sit down with myself. Where I really differ is in revison. Mike's economic returns rule prohibits re-writing in some cases, particulary when he is/was in overdrive production mode. I like to re-write till the cows come home. But I am getting better. Re-writing can get silly, but it is also a way to learn.


            • #7
              I've read an re-read Death is no Obstacle and recommend it to anyone who'll sit still long enough. Great book and tons of wonderful info about writing. I do the notebook thing too, So did Edgar Rice Burroughs. He had notebooks for all his novels and filled them with notes, sketches, lists of names, etc.



              • #8
                life is my best influence. just whatever happens to me, my family, and then...

                reading the news. all kinds of wonderful or horrible or shocking or enlightening things are in the news and it inspires me appropriately.


                • #9
                  Hmm. I think I'm probably unaware of most of them. I'd have to go to most of the formative experiences, when I was in single digits, like Conan, Star Wars, pop, soul and disco music heard on the radio - at the age of 8 I was very fond of a kind of prog rock monstrosity called 'war of the worlds' which I am sure left a huge semiconscious impression.

                  Really from a musical POV I guess you'd say the big ones are equal doses Jethro Tull and Hawkwind, two radically different solutions to the same set of problems, two opposite sides of the same coin. There's a whole lot of other stuff in there (like Peter Buck's guitar playing and techno by Orb) but those two bands were early revelations. On the high-falutin' side I'll take a medieval troubador or a nice motet any day, gotta love baroque (its the next big thing you know - more is actually more) and then some romantic stuff. Everything newer than that is fun to *think* about.

                  Writing, well, Miller Williams taught Robert P. Arthur taught me, so those would have to be the big influences. Moorcock is certaily in there in spirit, but I haven't ever really tried to do a novel so I'm more of a reader as far as that goes.



                  • #10
                    I think that I'm influenced by everything around me so it's hard to think of where my ideas have sprung forth. Music is the major thing that keeps me writing, drawing... well, anything really. I've found that the Arcade Fire, Interpol, the Dandy Warhols and Daft Punk were very good music to have in the background when I was writing.

                    As for other influences... I'd have to say that Mike's books have crept into much of my own writings (more than I'd thought that they would too). Neil Gaiman too. I also like to 'borrow' from physics too.


                    • #11
                      Writing influences

                      Influences? I'm still burrowing into mine.
                      For early stuff I'm going back to Silver Age American Comics. Here I'm talking Jack (King) Kirby and Stan (the Man) Lee. Their etched in my head, and in large $ signs on the industry. When Jack did his Fourth World, I dipped into Science Fiction for the first time. My first novel bears an imprint of Patrick Moore's Invader from Space. This was a book I received as a prize in Junior School, year 6. Didn't touch it for 4 years - it wasn't what I wanted. The impact lingers.
                      I took in Howard's Conan whose destiny (in retrospect) bears a striking resemblance to that of Baibars. Baibars was polovtsy. Polovtsy was the Russian term for the fair-haired nomads that roamed the steppes. During the Mongol period many of these became (mamluk) warrior slaves. Baibars succeeded Qutuz (also a warrior slave, but Khwarezmian) as head of the Mamluks in Egypt. Strike out the fantasy, eliminate 19,200 years... Howard's work is interesting.
                      Michael Moorcock's Order / Chaos di-[something or other word] has weighed heavily on me at times. It's hard to escape Philip K Dick; in a way this world, here and now, is The World Dick Made. In warning us, he (or should it be He?) has provided a route map. Galactic Pot Healer is at the centre of his work.
                      It's easy to drift away from the genre; in the mid-80's I had a look at Sufism, stopping over by Doris Lessing's Space Fiction. Neil Gaiman's Sandman reminded me that the comic book was alive and well, and still capable of providing an interesting read.
                      I still re-read Zelazny. What strikes me in Nine Princes in Amber and the follow-ons is the reference to perfect he doesn't beat you over the head with Platonic references, but if you've read much Plato, it's there.
                      Films - anything Raymond Chandleresque; noir preferred.

                      Grr a walk beckons.


                      • #12
                        my parents, Alan Moore, Bjarne Stroustrup, Brian Kernighan, P. K Dick, Dennis Ritchie, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Tony Levin, John Petrucci, Tesla, Turing, Babbage, Faraday, Maxwell, Chris Nolan...
                        "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                        "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.


                        • #13
                          Artworks: I look at a lot of old acid rock and space rock album covers. Those help me get an idea of aesthetic.

                          Books: Michael Moorcock, Steven Erikson, Steven Brust, Frank Brunner, Peter Watts. Lovecraft deserves a mention, as I love the way he conjures atmosphere in his stories. Also, Robert Howard and Homer.

                          Movies: None.

                          Other: Immunology, virology, organic chemistry. I love working these into my fantasy, with a touch of evolution.


                          • #14
                            This is an interesting thread. Iwill try to explain my influences:

                            Writing/books: My main influences are Michael Moorcock and Fritz Lieber with some minor influence from Tolkien.

                            Music: My main musical influences that contribute toward my writing style are varied but I would mainly go with Yes and the vivid images and concecpts. I would also mention Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant (solo).

                            Art: Robert Dean is by far the most influential person in my work, I would say. His imaginative works define genre and landscapes so fantastically, he is the guy.

                            TV/Movies: Being from the southern plains, I have a huge influence from western U.S. culture that is melded into my fantasy work. Many of my scenes take place in areas that might resemble the central and southwestern U.S. So it is no coincidence that my characters and landscapes are western like in the mold of characters played by John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. My characters are rugged individualists who are self sustaining but with some character flaws and believe in the strong arm of law and order and protecting the innocent. My landscapes look like they could vary from the deserts of the man with no name to the prairies and timberlands of Rooster Cogburn.
                            Check out J. Wade Harrell Fantasy World blog: