Sunday, 31 October 2010

Influencing Authors and the tales behind them

So I was offline for nearly two whole days, enjoying my weekend, and arrive back to find myself tagged umpteen ways to Timbuktu with this author meme thing that was already floating around last week. I've read the contributions and the reasonings and the plea for elucidation rather than just spouting off names. Okay, let's do this properly.

[Fabulous place, Timbuktu, by the way. Here's a picture - that's me on the right:]

I'm going to start at the beginning and attempt to move chronologically, giving my utterly personal reasons as we go. Hmm, I wonder if it'll be what you expect...I may even surprise myself.

1. C.S. Lewis 
The Narnia books were likely the first full-length novels I read - first read aloud by parents, then by myself by the time I was six or so. These taught me the thrill of being lost inside a story and gave me the addiction to reading that I still suffer from today.

2. John White 
The Tower of Geburah, at 600 pages, was my Christmas gift right before I turned seven. I read it in three days and sorely felt the lack of further items in this category. I mean, this was the eighties after all. Mr. White was in fact a non-fiction writer, and it shows when I look at his work now, but at the time I didn't care. That book taught me that a plot can go on and on and on - for hundreds and hundreds of pages - and still be cohesive and united.

3. Enid Blyton
Don't laugh. I once owned over 40 of her novels, and spent many a summer's day devouring two or three of them back to back. Though obviously dated, they were quite exciting to a child and involved a good amount of childish derring-do - e.g. camping and travelling without adults came up quite a lot. These books taught me a large variety of different plots, as well as the varying "feelings of tension" brought on by individual villains, which were never the same twice.

4. Star Trek
I'm counting all the authors as a collective, because they all wrote in the same world...a world of a hopeful future, the thrill of exploring the vastness of space, the character and team dynamics. These things have always stayed with me. And if anyone's asking, my favourite Trek movies are 4, 5, 8, 9 and 11. :) The Trek novels are also worth a mention - some very good writers there, with bold concepts of their own even while staying within the established lore.

5. Frank Peretti
I consumed This Present Darkness as soon as it came into the house one fine day in 1987. It was a real eye-opener to what could be done with fiction, blurring the line to reality, and displaying an intricately plotted storyline that still astonishes today.

6. Stephen Lawhead
I'll never forget the day Dad brought Taliesin home from a foray to the Christian bookshop. Hullo, what's this? I thought as I discovered the second chapter was not about the same people and places as the first. But I quickly fell in love with the alternating manner of telling, which made the moment of their meeting all the more significant. I ended up writing my first full-length novel in that very method many years later.
That is only the first book of the Pendragon Cycle. I grew to love the second, Merlin, even more, followed by all the others and the supposedly unrelated modern-day "Avalon".
Then came Albion and Empyrion. I dare any warm-hearted human not to be moved by the scene in The Siege of Dome where the telepathic fish come to comfort a desperate traveller.

7. Beth W.
A homeschool friend from childhood who conspired with me to co-write a story of a local urban legend being proven. I was with her on her paper run and the front page carried a story of said legend, which got us talking. We planned out the entire story and agreed each of us would write a version, to be combined later. She didn't get terribly far with hers - but I finished mine at the respectable length of 20,000 words over several months at the age of 14. So thanks, Beth, for prodding me to do it.

(Insert long, boring years of reading mostly historical fiction. Or nothing at all. Blame university, and then living in Germany)

8. Jeremy Robinson
A champion of independent publishing! His first novel The Didymus Contingency blew me away by its concept and plotting, as well as the fact that Jeremy was the publisher. He moved from self-publishing, to his own publishing company, and eventually into traditional publishing. A success story to aspire to.

9. Frank Creed
Founder of the Lost Genre Guild, which provided the support and feedback for nearly everything I have done in serious writing and publishing to date, and a high-concept novelist of fast-moving cyberpunk - the genre I now feel most at home in. All about opening doors of possibility.

10. Randy Ingermanson
Long before I ever got hold of his novels (which isn't easy these days) I discovered his writing site and Snowflake method for novel planning. Unbeknownst to me, I had been using a similar system (though not so well defined) to plot my novels already, but he came along and made it all perfectly clear. To this day, the Snowflake (well, the bits of it that I use) is my very favouritest part of novel writing.

11. Darryl Sloan
Once a Christian, Darryl has moved away from that and now constantly questions our relationship to reality. Aside from being great fodder for sci-fi ideas, the challenge to established thought is a healthy thing.

12. Chris Walley
Who else has crafted 1000+ pages of one memorable, mind-blowing story? Chris has truly expanded the horizons of science fiction.

13. The Lost Genre Guild authors
Everyone who's stepped up to encourage in hard times, to critique a novel, to assist with critiquing and reviewing - these guys are the best. I would never have gotten this far in my writing without them.

14. Authors and associates I visited on my "roadtrip" in 08
Everyone who took me in for an hour or a day or a week while I crossed the USA by myself. Each shared their own particular authorness and insights with me, and their input is still with me today. I planned to write the roadtrip novel "Godspeed" while actually travelling - but you know how travelling is. Just as well everyone is so memorable.

15. Finally - All the authors I've published!
Seriously, these guys are da bomb. In working through manuscripts together, they've taught me so much. Each story has touched me in its own way, and each writer has left their mark on my own approach. I'm somewhat in awe to be called their publisher - I only hope to be truly worthy of that name.