All writers are influenced by stories, be they in TV, film, novels, comics, etc. Nowadays you can throw video games in there for good measure. Influence comes from all sorts of sources, but here’s a list of what influenced me the most when I was but a wee whippersnapper:
The first reading material I ever consumed voraciously, this seminal British comic gave us such classics as Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Sláine and Strontium Dog. It’s only since I’ve matured that I’ve realise all these characters were basically the same bloke – a hard-bitten future cop/future soldier/bounty hunter/celtic warrior that roams the land, violently being violent to other more violent villains. Obviously, 2000AD also gave us the ahead-of-its-time Halo Jones and the post-modern Zenith, but seven-year-old me was rather too young to appreciate them at the time.
The Forest of Doom
This was the first book I ever bought with my own cash. I’ve never been a particularly fast reader, so I almost exclusively read interactive fiction when I was a pre-teen. Fantasy classics like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were a little too much for my short attention span at the time, but I was consumed by the worlds of fantasy in series like Lone Wolf, The Way of the Tiger, Sagard the Barbarian and the one-shot Fighting Fantasy books.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Having tried and failed to finish the Lord of the Rings, I was around thirteen when I discovered the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman. Some might consider it LOTR-lite but for me it was packed with as much characterisation, intrigue and adventure as any fantasy series that came before it. The story of warring dragons was all well and good, but I was drawn in by this epic tale of love, loss, loyalty and redemption. Maybe I’m looking back with rose tinted specs… Maybe I don’t care!
The Wasp Factory
I’m going to say it – I’ve always been more interested in Ian Banks’ literary fiction than his Culture novels (*ducks for cover*). His first novel, The Wasp Factory, features all the terrible reviews it received on its own blurb page. Oh, the audacity! Oh, the irreverence! I was hooked from page one, and I’d never read a novel like it. I fell in love with the dastardly protagonist and it made me realise that you really could do anything if your characterisation was on point. And, oh, that plot twist…
The Sword in the Storm
David Gemmell. Legend. And I’m not talking about his first novel. I discovered Gemmell’s fiction some years after his untimely death, late I know, but when I did I was hooked. Some might criticise him for writing the same book with the same themes and characters over and over… but who cares? For me, Gemmell’s best is undoubtedly The Sword in the Storm, the story of Connavar, a young warrior destined for greatness. Sounds clichéd, right? Wrong! This tale of loyalty, bravery and family is a classic. Much more deftly written than Gemmell’s seminal novel Legend, and a compulsory read for any fantasy fan.
R.S. Ford‘s A Demon in Silver is due to be published tomorrow by Titan Books in the UK and North America.
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