Influences. The list is endless as I’m sure it is for anyone that writes, paints, or plays music.
What I find is that almost anything can conjure ideas for stories. If I had to narrow it down then I would have to point towards music as my muse. I often write best when listening to music and have come up with some of my favourite ideas or scenes whilst wearing headphones (although I’ve had some great ideas in pubs too).
I keep track of every idea for a plot or scene that I have, scribbling them down on whatever portable surface I have at hand. I’ve tried using a dictaphone and apps, but none of them compare to paper. There’s something about paper that calls out to a writer. I don’t think that will ever change. If we could open a window into the future, seven centuries from today, I’m sure you’d see someone sat on an observation deck of some space freighter, jotting down notes on scraps of paper. It might be artificial paper, but paper it would be.
Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time I would like to devote to the ideas I have. As it is, I have a long line of stories that are waiting to be edited or written. There are just so many projects and so little time that I would gladly accept being made a member of the sparkly undead if it meant having eternity to finish them.
I often take photos of the various objects I come across that I find have a story wrapped up in them just waiting to be told. Every abandoned building, every block of clay, every blank paper, every off-cut of wood… they all have a story within them. What I find interesting is that the story often changes depending upon the viewer. It falls to you to tell that story.
Without the small things in life the big things would never exist.
What follows are a a few authors, albums, artists, things that have inspired me over the years. That is not to say that they inspired me to write specific stories, but they certainly inspired the emotions within me that I draw upon when I write. The lists below are but surface scratches, but may serve to give you a glimpse of what lies beneath.
Books & Authors
These are some of my favourite authors or books that I have read. Some of them are well known and others perhaps not. I am very fond of some of their writing styles, in particular Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Enid Blyton, Edgar Allan Poe, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, H.P. Lovecraft, R.L. Stevenson, et. al.
* Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb (Meggan Lindholm)
* Dragonlance Chronicles & Legends – Weiss & Hickman
* Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
* The Horus Heresy: Horus Rising – Dan Abnett
* The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
* The Suicide Club – R.L. Stevenson
* Thrawn Janet – R.L. Stevenson
* Watership Down – Richard Adams
* I Am a Cat – Soseki Natsume
* A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
* Snow, Glass, and Apples – Neil Gaiman
* Neverwhere -Neil Gaiman
* The Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton
* Dance, Dance, Dance – Haruki Murakami
* Border – John Ajvide Lindqvist
* Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
* Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice
* Iliad – Homer
* Aeneid – Virgil
* Chushingura – trans. Donald Keene
* Beatrix Potter
* Edogawa Rampo
* C.S. Lewis
* Clive Barker
* Le Morte d’Arthur – Sir Thomas Malory
* The Vinland Sagas: “Graenlendinga Saga” and “Eirik’s Saga” – trans. Magnus Magnusson and H. Palsson
* The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer – trans. Jesse Byock
* The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology – trans. Snorri Sturluson
* The Nibelungenlied – trans. A.T. Hatto
* Fritz Leiber
* Elizabeth Gaskell
* Jane Austen
* Charles Dickens
* James Herbert
* Robert E. Howard
* Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy – Tad Williams
I don’t have the money or time to read these anymore, but back when I could these were some of the titles I enjoyed reading. A lot of them are no longer around and some I just don’t know about anymore. Of those, I think two of my favourites happen to come from the same author: Frank Miller. The two in question are probably already known to you and are, ‘Ronin’ and ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’. Both are examples of pure class.
* The Sandman
* The Spectre
* The Books of Magic
* Legends of the Dark Knight
* Batman (mostly the main title along with Detective Comics and Shadow of the Bat)
* Swamp Thing
Film & TV
This list could probably go on and on with every year that passes. I don’t think I could ever say that I have one outright favourite film since it all depends on how I feel at the time. I have gathered a large collection of movies and TV shows over the years. Not all of them are great, but most have something that I liked about them (even if its just a scene).
What I have tried to do here is just list some of those that spring to mind when I think of the emotion that each conjured for me at the time. I’ve placed a star next to those that have a special place in my memory for the inspiration they provided at some point.
300, Alice in Wonderland, An American Werewolf in London*, The Company of Wolves*, Big Trouble in Little China, Beowulf & Grendel* (Sturla Gunnarsson), Blue Velvet, Caligula, Creep, Escape from New York, Edward Scissorhands*, Excalibur*, Gladiator, Good Will Hunting, House of the Long Shadows, Henry V*, Hellraiser I and II, Interview with the Vampire, Raiders of the Lost Ark*, Immortal Beloved, Leon, Legend*, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Neverwhere* (UK series), Near Dark*, Nosferatu, Pan’s Labryinth*, Peter Pan, Psycho (original), Robin of Sherwood* (the original UK series shown in the 80’s), Seven Samurai*, Sherlock Holmes* (Jeremy Brett UK series), Sleeping Beauty, Snow White & The Seven Dwarves, Shallow Grave, Split Second, Ten Little Indians, The Prophecy, The Crow, The Deer Hunter, The Name of the Rose*, The Life of Brian, Let the Right One In (and Let Me In – yes I liked them both), The Dragon Slayer, Star Wars, The Shining (original), The Plague Dogs*, The Sixth Sense, The Thing (John Carpenter), Watership Down*, The 13th Warrior*, Sinbad* (original R. Harryhausen), Jason and the Argonauts*, Band of Brothers (TV series), The Boondock Saints, Children of the Stones (UK TV series), Dramarama (UKTV series), Clash of the Titans* (original), The Dark Crystal*, Fire and Ice, The Flight of Dragons*, Wu Ji (The Promise), Subspecies 2: Bloodstone, Janghwa Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters), Only Lovers Left Alive*, The Vikings* (Richard Fleischer), The Wizard of Oz (original), Mibu Gishi Den (When the Last Sword is Drawn), Byzantium*, …
Damn. I’ve missed so many out. It’s impossible to make a list like this. I know that as soon as I’ve published this page I’ll think of another one and wonder just how I managed to forget it…
Again, I could roll the list on and on or perhaps just mention genres rather then actual bands/music. I even used a sort script to put them into alphabetical order just so I could spot some that I missed (it didn’t help).
This is music in general that I enjoy listening to or which I sometimes have on when writing or thinking of ideas. I know I’m going to forget some here…
The 69 Eyes, Arcana, Arctic Monkeys, Apocalyptica, This Ascension, Autumn, Alanis Morrisette, Bush, Beethoven*, The Beatles (red album), Beck, Blur, Bach, Bella Morte, Basil Poledouris, Bauhaus, Brahms, Bocherrini, Bjork, Billie Holiday, Bel Canto, The Benedictine Monks of Santo, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Cranes*, The Cure*, The Crüxshadows, The Cardigans, Curve, Cognent Woe, The Chameleons, Coil, Chris Issak (Wicked Game album), The Cranberries*, Dido, Depeche Mode, Dead Can Dance, Deep Blue Something, Debussy, Diary of Dreams, Delerium, Danny Elfman, Deftones, Drumatic, Enya, Elastica, Ella Fitzgerald, Enigma, Elliot Goldenthal, Evanescence, Faithless (some), Filter, Faith and the Muse, Garbage, Gipsy Kings, The Go-Go’s (some early stuff), Guns n’ Roses*, Godsmack, Grigori 3, Gilles Apap, Gorillaz, Hole, Hans Zimmer*, Helloween (old stuff), Idlewild*, Iron Maiden*, James Blunt, Jam & Spoon (some), The Jesus & Mary Chain, James Brown (early stuff), Juliette & The Licks, Kate Bush, Kovenant, Loreena McKennitt*, Louis Armstrong, Lords of Acid, Los Lobos, Miles Davis, Machines of Loving Grace, Mahler, Mad at Gravity, Mozart*, My Bloody Valentine, Marilyn Manson, Ministry, Midnight Syndicate, Mad Alice Lane, Megadeth (early stuff), Michael Nyman, Morcheeba, Natalie Imbruglia, Nina Simone, New Order, NIN, Nirvana, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, Orto Equitum Solis, The Prodigy, Pixies (some!), Pulp, Portishead, Puddle of Mudd, Paco De Lucia, Pseudocipher, R.E.M., Rammstein*, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rollercoaster, Rolling Stones* (earlier stuff), Robert Miles, Rage Against The Machine, Rob Zombie, Stiltskin (original), Seo Tai Ji (some), Sequentia, Sober*, Sneaker Pimps, Sleeper, Soul Asylum, Sheryl Crow, Siouxsie & The Banshees*, Seraphim Shock, Sex Pistols, Seven Mary Three, Skunk Anansie, Staind, The Smashing Pumpkins, Stabbing Westwards, Splendora, Switchblade Symphony, Spanking Machine, SPF1000, Tapping the Vein*, Type O Negative, Temple of Rain, Tori Amos, Tchaikovsky, t.A.T.u (only the “Clowns” track), Terra Naomi, Velvet Revolver, The Vines, Verdi, Vast, Voltaire, Veruca Salt, Wagner, Wench, et al…
Music while writing “Throne of Ice”
This probably doesn’t mean anything to new readers/followers of this blog. Unless you delve back through the years you won’t find any mention of “Throne of Ice”. The sample no longer exists as I took it down last year to be edited.
Basically, “Throne of Ice” is a novel that I wrote quite a few years ago. This was back before anything like KDP existed and indie-publishing was still vanity publishing. This was one of those novels that was rejected and now sits on a shelf sipping tea and doing nothing. It won’t remain there forever, but it will have to wait a little. In short, it was/is first of three planned books, but will now actually be book four of six (when I get around to starting work on them). What follows is a brief listing of music that I listened to during the years spent writing “Throne…”
There were certain tracks from the list below that I could associate certain moments of my story with and with various characters. I must confess to enjoying the tracks ‘Links 2, 3, 4’ and ‘Zwitter’ by Rammstein or ‘The Trooper’ by Iron Maiden along with the excellent soundtrack by Hans Zimmer whenever writing some frenzied battle scenes. In truth, I do not always listen to music while writing as it can prove distracting. It does depend upon my mood at the time and the scenes that I am writing. Sometimes I prefer the constant drone of voices in background which is when I choose to sit in a coffee shop. There were, however, memorable moments of me writing two chapters set in the deep forests at around 3am in the morning with a bottle of Laphroaig and a host of candles alongside me. Rammstein and The Cure were playing in the background on that stormy night!
Rammstein (Mutter), Iron Maiden (Misc.), Evanescence (Fallen), Marilyn Manson (Eat Me, Drink Me), Tori Amos (From the Choirgirl Hotel), Gipsy Kings (Rare & Unplugged), Elliot Goldenthal (Interview with the Vampire), Basil Poledouris (Conan), James Blunt (Back to Bedlam), Cranes (Loved), Beethoven (Misc.), Megadeth (Misc.), Michael Nyman (The Piano), The Cure (Bloodflowers), Hans Zimmer (King Arthur), Nakano Ritsuki (the song ‘Suteki Da Ne’), NIN (The Downward Spiral), and the Swedish radio station: Bandit Rock 106-3!
Music while writing “The Chalice”
As I originally wrote this story back in 2006 whilst working on the aforementioned “Throne of Ice”, I listened to pretty much the same stuff. In the autumn of 2014, I spent a few months tidying things up and making changes here and there. During that time I listened to some different tracks. It’s a chaotic sort of mixture, but it did and does work (for me). For anyone interested, here’s a quick list of a few that spring to mind:
Creedance Clearwater Revival, Björk, Warlock, Guns N’ Roses, Evig Natt, RATM, Reef, Rise Against, Rolling Stones, Wolfmother, Stone Roses, Muse, Iron Maiden, Slash, Kittie, Scorpion Child, Judas Priest and probably a few others that I’ve just forgotten…
“…However unsure. However unwise. Day after day, play out our lives. However confused. Pretending to know the end. But this isn’t truth, this isn’t right. This isn’t love, this isn’t life, this isn’t real. This is a lie.”
– ‘This is a Lie’, Wild Mood Swings, The Cure (1996).