C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: Who influences you?

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Everything that has ever happened to us goes into our books. Every slight and terrible vengeance, real or imagined, gets poured in. Here are some of my influences:

1. During a podcast, the guest talked about the Hagakure, the book of the Samurai. It had been a long time since I’d read it, but as soon as he mentioned it, I knew I had an empty place for that puzzle piece in the next book in the Ghosts & Demons Series.

2. When John Cleese was a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jon mentioned the Choir Invisible. Besides being a funny sketch and a great poem, the reference set off fireworks in my mind. The Choir Invisible became a complex secret society that fights evil in The Haunting Lessons. (We don’t read enough poetry anymore, by the way. Lyricism seeps into our writing when we drink enough of it.)

3. William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride (among many other wonderful novels and screenplays) always catches the reader by surprise. When you are sure what is going to happen next? That’s when he’s got you. I love that. I do that. It makes plot development a joy and dares you to stop turning pages, even when it’s late and you have to be at work early in the morning.

4. I studied The Divine Comedy in school. When you’re writing about demons and the fight between good and evil (or bad and evil), a quote from the classics slipped into the narrative makes for a big moment that adds to the depth of the atmosphere I want to achieve in a key scene.

5. I loved the action in Mickey Spillane novels. Film is definitely in the mix, as well. When I’m writing the Hit Man Series, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers and Guy Ritchie are never far away.

6. Stephen King’s structural devices from The Stand and It went into This Plague of Days. Chuck Palahniuk’s appreciation for the macabre is in all the horror. Contextualizing the bizarre with the weird and real is a lesson learned from The X Files.

7. As a disappointed humanist, I want to be Kurt Vonnegut. Not the writer per se, but the man. If I ever release my time travel novel, he’s in the mix in a big way. I miss him.

8. When I’m writing action and suspense, Skrillex, Eminem and Everlast are playing in the background. Visceral goes with viscera. A steady diet of standup comedy balances out the blood. The path between horror and humor can be a knife edge. 

9. Fight scenes and sex scenes: draw on experience and each variety of conquering and surrender is all the more delicious.

10. Director Kevin Smith and comic Joe Rogan inspired me to write my first book, Self-help for Stoners. Chasing that dream long into the night continues to keep me going in the face of adversity.

I write original books (if it can be said there is such a thing.) However, we all have our artistic ancestry. What’s yours? What do you recommend?

~ FYI, one more time: The Haunting Lessons is free today and tomorrow and my first crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, is also free everywhere. Hit AllThatChazz.com now for the links.

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4 Responses

  1. smkay70 says:

    Thank you for an awesome post. There is so much that goes into my writing, not just books and movies and music (lots of Black Sabbath) but also awkward moments, bad decisions and crappy events and tragedies. No sense letting those go to waste!

  2. acflory says:

    Ah lovely…. Crime and Punishment, Left Hand of Darkness, Dune, Otherland, Puccini operas, epic scores by Two Steps from Hell, MMOs, Bruce Lee, biology… how many pages do I have? lol

  3. Kris says:

    I always loved the shifting perspective narrative Stephen King used in novels like The Stand and It, and I had it firmly in mind when I wrote Invasion at Bald Eagle.

    But I think my favourite example of influence was when I was reading Chocky by John Wyndham. In it, he described how one of his child characters grew up over the course of a summer and left his imaginary friend behind. It was a throwaway line, just a nifty image in a greater descriptive passage, but it blew my mind. How would that imaginary friend feel about being abandoned, I wondered? Left scared and alone for 20 long years?

    I turned it into a story called ‘Left Behind’ that appeared in an anthology a few years ago.

  4. mohanalakshmi says:

    I love the idea of artistic ancestry!

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