I thought it would be cool to share what my main influences have been in regards to the genres I write in. The influences themselves are not necessarily all books—they are video games and card games and TV shows, among other things. So what are they? I’ll try to separate them by genre.
I read The Black Cauldron in middle school, and my love of fantasy began. I went on to devour The Lord of the Rings, and nothing has come close to that experience ever since. I read The Hobbit first, and then the main trilogy, and then The Silmarillion, and then The Children of Huron. I absolutely loved all of them. I’ve read a lot of fantasy, but the LOTR is the only one worth mentioning as the source of my influence as it concerns fantasy literature. I could rattle off other fantasy books I love, but I won’t—unless you really want me to. Then ask in the comments.
The card game Magic: The Gathering owns my fantasy soul. I’ve played this game off and on throughout my whole life, and if I had the time and money and dedication, in another life, I would have loved to be a pro player. I love board games too, more so in the past few years since I discovered Settlers of Catan (which sparked a board game buying rampage). But Magic will always be my favorite, and I would never turn a game of it down. The card art is top notch, and so is the card lore, and the gamut of fantasy tropes the game has used and innovated upon.
The game Diablo and all its sequels have enchanted me, taken my summers away, and sent me down deep into many an evil church basement dungeon. I can’t say how much this game consumed me at times.
Science Fiction & Dystopian
Differentiating between scifi and dystopian is really hard sometimes. Some of my scifi influences have dystopian themes, but that’s to be expected.
So number one—Star Wars. This tale consumed my life for a few years. I mean all of it. I was obsessed during middle school with the card game by Decipher, and the movies, and anything else I could figure out about the universe Lucas created.
Then there’s Starcraft, which is a video game. I love this game. If I had any shot at playing on the pro level, I might not be writing. So maybe it’s a good thing I never got past Master league (which I only accomplished once using cheese strategies). I played the first game as a teen, had a clan, a website, the whole nine. Then I got into Starcraft II for a long time too. Thank god I have learned to control the addiction.
Man oh man. I loved 1984 so much. And then I went on to Brave New World. And then I went on to read Oryx and Crake, and that one was probably my favorite. Funny enough, I haven’t read the sequels to the Madd Adamm Trilogy, but I definitely plan to eventually. Also, I’m not sure that I can, but hell, I’ll throw Atlas Shrugged in here, because in my mind it’s pretty dystopian, and combine it with the game Bioshock. Both of those held sway over my imagination for some time.
I’m a huge RPG nut. So let’s throw Final Fantasy 7 in here. This game was a revelation to me. The scifi dystopian vision of the future will stay with me forever. While we’re on RPG games, I can’t avoid mentioning Xenogears. I have tried to go back and replay this game a few times, as its impact was that powerful on me. But I haven’t been able to get very far because of the random battles. But I will—someday, I will. Another story that is imbued on my brain.
I’m not big on gore horror movies. Honestly, I really enjoy the Paranormal Activity movies. I know I risk being lambasted for admitting that, but I like to slip into the suspense and stay there a long time.
I really love Psycho, and most all of Hitchcock’s horror films. There’s something to be said about the difference between gore horror and suspense, psychological horror.
Edgar Allan Poe must be mentioned here, because I love his stories. He has a way of building and holding the suspense, generating the sense of terror, and providing the much-needed twist at the end.
Another example is the movie Signs. While many will say this isn’t horror, it definitely had me on the edge of my seat, and the reason being fear. For me, that’s enough to classify it. This movie seems to be loved or hated, and I absolutely love it.
Really, any type of sustained fear, with a great twist, will be something that influences me. If heads are getting chopped off left and right, and it’s a blood fest, I’m probably not interested. I don’t want to be grossed out by horror, but rather captivated by a mystery.
I’d love to hear some of your influences in these genres.