- A reflection upon the influence the ideas and fictions of others has had upon my work
- A bibliography for a short fiction attempting to identify a range of those influences
- The special influence of music on my writing process
- A list of early influences on my fiction, including art, books, comics, films and television
When reflecting on fictions I created during my upbringing, I find it relatively simple to identify the influences that shaped them. Typically I detect the template of a particular film or book I loved or I can sense the gravity of the parent fiction bending my imagination inevitably in a certain direction. Most probably writing that fiction was my way of exploring what I enjoyed about the story I had read or seen in my own way, but I suppose my younger self had a limited imaginative architecture and vocabulary of ideas and so, like a child repeating sounds and words, used the examples of others. not form imaginative architecture.
A Bibliography of a Short Fiction - Atlantis Falls
As an exercise in understand the many influences across a great many years that now form a crucible for any new fiction, I have created a 'bibliography' for a short fiction I wrote early in 2010 about the fall of an inter-galatic Antlantean civlisation.
- Ashes of Angels, Collins, Andrew (idea of Atlanteans as incorporating eagle and serpent symbology - 1998)
- Atlantis The Lost Continent,
- Babylon 5, Straczynski, J. Michael, et al (space battles after Atlantean's conciousness network is damaged by inter cosmic invasion - 1995)
- Barsoom series, Burroughs, Edgar Rice (six legged creature on mars, created by the protagonist millions of years before - 1981)
- Critias, Plato (description of Atlanteans as glorius civlisation which became corrupt and invited their own destruction - 1991)
- Earth, Brin, David (concept of a global or cosmic conciousness network invoked my his image of global network of nodes used to focus the energy of a black hole - 1992)
- Fingerprints of the Gods, Hancock, Graham (1998)
- The Great Day of His Wrath (Painting), Martin, John (the last Judgement - 1981 - but was probably earlier)
- Last Legends of Earth, Attanasio, A.A. (Woman constructing worlds - 1989)
- Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Hapgood, Charles (possibility of Northern Antartica having been ice free relatively recently, and a sea faring civlisation having mapped the coastline now under the ice - 1998)
- Markandeya Purana, Hindu Traditional (the story of anceint lifetimes and a soul having been in an earlier incarnation in a previous cycle of the cosmos transmitting their widsom to some in this cycle of the cosmos - 1982)
- Night Meeting, Bradbury, Ray (scene in the story set on an anceint Mars where Atlantean daughter discuss the fall of civilisations with her mother from an incarnation four million years earlier - 1983)
- Night’s Dawn, Commonwealth Saga, Hamilton, Peter F. (space battles and invasion of dead spirits - 1997)
- Olympos, Simmons, Dan (humans becoming gods through advanced technology)
- Resident Evil (precoious child with adult intellect)
- The Magician’s Nephew, Lewis, C.S. (story of rivarly between two sisters leading to apocaplyse - 1975)
- The Mahabharata, Hindu Traditional (1977)
- The Power of Myth, Campbell, Joseph in conversation with Bill Moyers (snake in the Garden of Eden as positive force - 1997)
- The Time Traveller’s Wife, Niffenegger. Audrey (little girl being aware of her future husband awaiting patiently for her to grow up - 2004)
- Shadows in the Stone (in progress), Dann, Jack
- The Women's History of the World, Miles, Rosalind (Atlantis as a matriarchy reflecting Miles description of prehistorical Cretan civlisation having possiblity been such - 2003)
While I might not easily be able to tease apart a fiction and locate the strands of imagination I have woven from others with certainty, in the case of music I can pretty much identify its effect on my work and individual scenes and passages with almost total precision. And usually the music that has influenced a fiction is very recent.
So much of my fiction is born from specific music tracks or albums, scenes are choreographed to it and their sensiblities and emotional fabric developed by listening to a particuarly sequence of music repeatedly while playing with the ideas and possiblities.
Often new fiction ideas, or elements of fictions come from the music itself in the first place, but where this is not the case one of the first things I do when apprehending the image or idea is to look for music in my collection that seem to relate to the feeling or image and listen to that music to further explore and expand the idea. If I cannot find something suitable I will start exploring new music until I come across something that does resonate with the initial image and discover it hungrily and enthusiastically.
A fiction like a novel is to me alive with the music that inspired it - some pieces provided a wash in the tone of the fiction, other parts specifically created by listening to a track over and over again. Since I started using Windows Media player I have taken to compiling play lists for particular novels and adding to the list as I encoutner new tracks that resonate with it or contribute to it. The play list for my current novel, The Devil's P.A. is nearly seventy tracks long now, but that for the sequel, which I have not started writing yet is short.
- Avatar, Soundtrack, Horner, James, 7567895761, Track 1 (scale of Atlantean civlisation and Ninael's - 2010)
- Black Hawk Down, Soundtrack, Zimmer, Hans, Decca 440 017 012 2, Tracks 1, 2 (Ninael's machine - 2010)
- Ennio Morricone:. Soundtrack, Virgin Records CDVD2516, Disc 2, Track 8 (general atmosphere and Athael's encoutner with Enneke and Enneke's gift of a vision of The Lilith - 2010)
This is probably the origin of my fascination with impossible imaginary spaces defying gravity. Many many times in my fiction I have created landscapes like this.
I would like to place a series of images of album covers that influenced me in childhood but as they are copyrighted the best I can do without going to the copyright dark side is place some links to other sites.
When I was growing upon the Seventies my uncle Finbar was still living in my grandparents house. He had a collection of LPs, some of which had belonged to my father, and I would study the images upon them with fascination. A number of them made a marked impression upon me, I have choosen a couple below.
The Threshold of a Dream - The Moody Blues
My father gave me this album in the early seventies. This nightmare like image did not frighten me, but it is the earliest example I can recall of mists of imagination being filled with extraordinary things, some of them dark and ominous. Thinking of a reality as possiblities swirling together.
Of course Blake was also a writer, but I encountered his work as images long before I actually read his words. His images tell stories, usually of a dramatic nature and they seem to me to embody a sense that dreams or visions can be more fundamental and more real that mundane things, one of the principal reasons I often lean towards write fiction of a fantastic nature.
I first saw John Martin's dramatic, wide angle big canvas visions in the Tate Gallery in the UK which I would often visit in my teenage years either with my family or sometimes by myself.
Arthur C Clarke
Photograph of Arthur C Clark by en:User:Mamyjomarash [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
TV series, which was my first encounter with these stories. I read all the books that had been published at that time not long after watching the series.
fictions. Also I identify with Adam's way of putting ordinary things or people put into extra ordinary cicumstances, or showing extraordinary or galatic things as familiar and mundane.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis' children novel about four very spiffing WW2 children who find their way into a magical land called Narnia, through the back of a wardrobe, and get mixed up with the local political scene - a prophetic struggle between good, represented by a talking Lion, and evil, represented by, surprise surprise a child hating witch.
Having in my adult years had a few experiences beyond the veil, I know it is actually all about finding things that are there all the time, inside you, but the language of desire, the frame of self need and the forms it gets projected onto in both the imagination and every day, is perhaps different for different people. The metaphor of finding a magic land is that for self discovery, so is the metaphor of finding the house you feel completely at home in, or the painting that expresses the feeling beyond photoreality.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Barsoom' books (planetary romances set on Mars) are some of the ealiest I can recall seeing. I was raised by my grandparents until the age of 13 and there was a book case outside my bedroom filled with books their children - my father, and his brother and sisters - had read when they were growing up. Llana of Gathol and a couple of other Barsoom novels were among them (there is a montage of Burroughs covers here, including the New English Library editions I saw as a child).
I also pucked up a love of Deux ex machina endings - Burrough's tales had many of them, such as the invisible spaceship the main characters lost at one stage in Fighting Man of Mars, and found again by accident. The planetary romance of mixing advancing technology and sword fighting or chivilrous behaviour. Imaginative.
Phillip Jose Farmer
This was the first science fiction book I read; it was another book from the shelf outside my bedroom as a child. It concerns a scientist petrified by an accident during an experiment some time in the near future who is returned to flesh and blood 20 million years later when humanity has vanished, animals have evolved into sentient beings and a giant concious world tree has covered much of the planet.
I read dozens of these indian comics when I was a kid (most of them were published in English as well as Indian languages). Unlike traditional western comics they are simple retellings of stories from anceint Hindu mythology, which is a rich and vast world more outlandish and imaginative than that of many comic worlds.
Flash Gordon (1980)
I was of the Star Wars generation and saw the first film four times over a weekend in 1976. It was however the second film that made the strongest impression on me.
The first and third films in the trilogy are essentially the same film, but this was a different kind of fiction. The big battle takes place at the start, it leads into darkness. No you are not my father. It is in snow not in space. There are sky city.
Photgraph of the original cast by Auz from London, UK (b7cast1) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons