Category Archives: Inspirational Stuff

Things and people that inspire my creativity and why!

injury

this post is slowly written by my left hand. I have injured my right hand quite badly that all computer work and any kind of movement with my usual right hand is extremely painful, I do not know how long this will last. So, I expect to be inactive on this blog for at least a month.

Sorry everyone xx

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Nox Arcana Art Influence

Another task I am setting for myself this week is to try and find as much art from the Nox Arcana albums I can throughout the internet and perhaps put it in Pinterest, because a lot of the songs and art of Nox Arcana inspire me a lot!

I saw two pictures quick-fire today and they melded together in my mind, I made a crap picture myself based on those images and a story is forming in my head.  I really don’t need new story ideas, but the artwork was beautiful, not mine, theirs. 

They have influenced a lot of my stuff, particularly the dark fantasy and horror stuff.

Also to do the artist of these pictures justice, I really need to find out who they are, that’s one thing I haven’t got around to doing yet. Shame on me, really! I think it’s Joseph Vargo, but I don’t really know.

Happy reading

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The Gnome Mobile By Walt Disney

The following review contains spoilers.

The gnome mobile

I loved this ever since I was tiny – I don’t know how old I was when I first watched this movie but I do know that it was before I was five years old and I watched it a lot!

The gnome mobile is unfortunately one of the Disney movies I talk about a lot to people who ask me about my favourite Disney movies and I get the response of “never heard of it”.  I am always stunned but I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but I am every time I get that response!  Why?  Because it’s super magical that’s why!

If you are like most people I have told about Gnome Mobile then allow me to enlighten you to what the movie is about! 

The movie is based on a lumber tycoon of Irish descent harvesting wood from an (unbeknownst to him) special magical woodland where a community of gnomes live; Because of the deforestation the gnomes are developing a disease called “fading” which is killing the community off and the whole race is in dire straits and at risk of extinction. 

So Jasper (a young gnome man) and his grandfather (Knobby) set out to track down the man responsible for cutting down the forest that is their home!  Knobby has caught the disease “fading” and his last and dying wish is to see that his grandson Jasper marries a nice young gnome girl before he dies, so he is sure his line continues!

The storyline is much more than this and there are many funny twists and turns in the movie; my favourite scene is the scene near the end where Jasper is presented with several eligible and beautiful gnome young ladies to choose from – but it is not as simple as that, because as per the tradition of gnome culture, the marriage is determined by what happens during a special kind of sporting event that helps determine who Jasper is fated to marry.  Jasper has to run away and find the one he wants and hopes that she can pin him down without being wrestled off him for a count so that they can marry; but there are many other gnome girls all fighting for the handsome catch which is Jasper and Jasper has to literally run for his life to get the shy Violet he wants! 

It’s very beautiful and I love stories where they show massive ecological concern and so forth, especially with magical twists like this one.

The tycoon as it happens learns what he is doing and turns the forest into a reservation.  Sorry for the spoiler, but he is encouraged to do so by his grandchildren who had befriended the gnomes at a picnic.

This is a very inspiring movie and I have always loved it, as a child I watched this more than once a week and it was my biggest pacifier.  Unfortunately when I was around eight years old, my mother gave this movie to a childminder of mine so I could watch it during the day when I was with her and the childminder kept it as payment after an argument they had where my mother fired her.

My parents never could find this movie again throughout my whole childhood, so I was absolutely thrilled when I moved in with Paul in 2009 to find it as a DVD on amazon and yes!  I bought it!

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Top 10 children’s books that influenced me

Top 10 children’s books that influenced my writing and why

Dragon’s dinner by Susannah Corbett

This is a hilarious book I read at least once a month to myself, I know it’s a young child’s picture book, but I adore it!

It is written in rhyme and there is a comedy element on every page, not to mention great illustration too!  I have a love for dragons that almost rivals my love for vampires; this is seen in the novels I write.  In fact, I have nearly finished a dragon novel to the extent that I may be considering sending it off to an agent in 2022.  At the moment I have approximately three more chapters to write of it again, this is the eighth draft, but then I will store it away for a couple of months and look again with fresh eyes and see if it needs a ninth draft – but I doubt it at the moment.

A strange thing for me is that writing the story initially can take just under a month for me to do, but editing and redoing drafts can take me three months, because I find that a boring process, I hate redoing stuff!  I am trying to learn to love doing that.

My dragon novel is potentially YA or adult fantasy, not sure yet, it is definitely bigger than this picture book and does have a lot of comedy elements to it.

Horton hears a who by Dr Seuss

I love most books by Dr Seuss and this is my favourite.  I like books where something unbelievable is eventually proven to the other characters of the book and that is something that is seen in a handful of my own works.  Once again there is a comedy element to the book.

I think I love this story a lot because when I was a child I used to blow bubbles and imagine that every bubble was a planet full of life, like Earth only different with unique creatures on each planet and that the time scale was epically fast.  I never read Horton Hears A Who until I had my son Henry and bought the book for him when he was 2yrs old – so the book resonated with me a lot.

James and the giant peach by Roald Dahl

There would be more than just one book by Roald Dahl on this list, but I wanted to be as broad as possible in my listings; it was difficult trying to narrow down which book to choose for this list by this specific author; I chose the one that I felt was the most unique and the one that literally got my heart pumping with excitement as I read it.

There were so many wonderful things in this book, talking, friendly insects, a comedy element, drama, horror, lots and lots of excellent scenery I just adored it.  I loved the parts where the peach acted like a hot air balloon and was flying above the world.  It is this scene which has influenced me the greatest, because I am working on a fantasy series based on a hot air balloon traveller which is aimed for a YA audience potentially.

Harry Potter and chamber of secrets by J.K Rowling

Much like most people nowadays, it is hard to think of fantasy and children’s books without thinking about Harry Potter, it is a great series and narrowing down to a specific book was very difficult, but this is my favourite because of the living trees and the giant spiders.  Also I found this the funniest of the lot.  I like depictions of forests particularly with living trees mentioned occasionally, such can be found in many books, Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz to name but two.  I have to admit, even I have written a scene with forest spiders in one of my novels, not to copy, but because it just felt so right and almost expected in a manner; in fact it is a scene in my main dragon novel.

Engelbert Sneem and his dream vacuum machine by Daniel Postgate

This had me riveted from the offset, it is amazing.  I love books where you get to dance around in someone else’s dreams and things like this, BFG and a couple of other stories had dreams in them too.  I love writing about dream worlds within my stories from time to time, but they do seem to be more horror based than my usual comedy fantasy.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

I have loved reading Heidi ever since I was a child and I must admit not only reading it, but also love watching all the movies that come out based on this story too!  Heidi has influenced my imagination a lot over the years.  I love goats and mountain sceneries and books with snow, books that star strong minded children who seem to act as blessings to the adults of their world.  I love miracle stories too and little Clara certainly had a miracle happen to her!

Quite a few of my books do seem to be rather Germanic, Norse or Slavic based, unintentionally, I haven’t really understood why.  I have strong warrior figures in my novels and the landscapes usually end up sounding like Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, the Alps and sometimes even the Carpathians.  I have never travelled outside of the UK; it would be lovely to do so at some point and visit some of those places that influence me and my writing.

Diary of a wimpy vampire by Tim Collins

It is such a funny book and the fact it contains vampires is another reason why I love this book so much; also this book made my son into a reader, because before he saw me reading this book to myself and laughing my head off at it at every page turn, he absolutely hated reading!  But now I have to say, he tries to read a whole large novel once every month.

My vampires have some comedy interjected into the pages from time to time, but it is not deliberately set out to be a comedy series – I just can’t help myself.

Mr Stink by David Walliams

I like books where children change the minds of the adults around them as I have mentioned before and this book does that.  I love books which show the best qualities of humanity, generosity etc.  I also love stories that are riches to rags and back again to riches, I have loved themes like this since I was a kid.  I loved movies such as “The Jerk” with Steven Martin and “Life Stinks” with Mel Brookes amongst others and yes, it is a theme I would like to write someday too.  Once again, there is comedy here.

I will say, that as a child I read a lot, but it was mostly non-fiction and that a majority of the fantasy and stuff I indulged in were movies, I watched a movie every day, without fail, sometimes three times a day, because I was home educated and work fast in my studies and had a lot of spare time to myself, cooped up indoors all day long.  My father had a massive VHS collection over eight hundred which had two or three movies on each he recorded off the TV, so there were always a lot of things to watch!

The tin can band by Margaret Mahy

I love all the poems and songs in this book.  I love the artwork and everything about the book.  The art inspires my art a lot and the poetry knows how to touch several nerves too.  I love the concept of dancing in the shadows and having night time, shadow acrobats dancing around you, causing you to hallucinate and see things that aren’t quite what they seem when the lights are out. 

The poems contain witches and various other creatures, some with comedic ideas and others more serious in tone, such as deforestation and a lovely concept on death too.

I love authors that have a knack in making death less scary and more beautiful or at least more fun.

Wolf by Gillian Cross

I like books about the homeless and hippies and that sort of thing, this book contains squatters and a little girl who tries to live with her mother under extraordinary circumstances.  The child is rather independent and I just love the book, but I can’t say it has influenced anything in particular though.

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Top 10 fantasy books

Top 10 Fantasy Books that I enjoyed and that influenced me the greatest are;

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I have always been a big fan of the inane and very abstract.  To me this novel is enchanting to the most profound sense of the word.  I love how it shows us that entertainment and our imaginations do not have to make sense in order to inspire us to do great things and beauty and fantasy doesn’t have to have a defined set of rules. 

This book makes me feel liberated as a creator and much of what I write reflects just how much Carroll has influenced me as a whole, it shows you how to think outside of the box; which is a wonder really, because I have never really been considered by people who know me as someone who thinks outside of the box, regardless how innovative they also say I am! 

The wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum

Very similar to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this novel and the entire fourteen book series has also expressed to me how fantasy and the imagination comes with no rules, that in the throes of your own mind you can do anything – because only you are god to the worlds you are imagining, the only rules that exist are the ones you determine! 

You decided what makes sense or not in your world, but you have to make sense in those worlds and not have contradicting ideas that make the world come across as unbelievable.  It can be as silly as you want it to be, but there must be some kind of order and to me this novel and the previous one I mentioned does that excellently!

Gregor the overlander by Suzanne Collins

Comedy is a big part of my fantasy writing and to me there is a lot of that in this book as well as cute little moments and emotional rollercoasters galore!

This books shows that even the most disgusting things in life can be somewhat endearing if you choose to switch the way you think.  I mean I would never have felt compassion, sympathy and a sense of love for a cockroach for example, but this novel debunked that! 

The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Once again the comedy aspect is here and that I absolutely love – also it shows that every world needs to have traditions and stories within stories and a sense of belonging and festivities.  I love how there is a familiarity to our reality reflected within this book, our Christmas and their Hogswatch and I try to do this in most of my novels.  Each world has a different ideology, customs and holidays and I think this is the biggest thing I love about story writing!  I love creating absolutely new customs and cultures!  Especially when I have conflicting cultures in the stories, each trying to explain the reason behind the things that they do to each other.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

I love this book because it makes you as a writer think about consequences of the things you choose to do to your characters and it forces you think about being consistent in your actions which precede the characters problem because of it.  It makes for good reading because there is a problem the character wants to resolve – a disability if you like, to overcome.  Also, once again, there is a comedy element to the novel and there are strong female characters, something which is rare in fantasy I have noticed.

Troll Fell by Katherine Languish

I love place descriptions and descriptions of movement, this book does that well.  I love the landscape and flow of the novel and I love the traditional sense of fantasy too – the old style fantasy, based on old folklore.  This novel has Vikings as well as house elves (nisse) and trolls.  I love Scandinavian folklore a lot and that can be reflected in some of the stuff I write, even if the location is not recognisable as Nordic. 

Smoke and mirrors By Neil Gaiman

There are many little gems in this book, lots of lovely prose and I do love novels that have a prose like feel to it; most people find prose hard to digest, but I love it.  I think there is a huge snobbery against prose and I find that hard to understand.  I love “descriptive dribble” as some people call it and I often find it offensive listening to people who put down prose like works. 

A major part of my lack of writing in recent years is due to the snobbery from my readers who dislike the prose that often gets interjected into my stories.  I am not overly descriptive, but I do borderline poetic.

According to my previous beta readers, my work is too old fashioned – it is at best Edwardian in style but, usually Victorian and I have to bring myself more up to date; that is the usual complaint I have ever had as well as having too much of a broadsheet vocabulary.  They felt that my readers would be a niche and narrow in margin purely because a vast majority of readers have more of a tabloid vocabulary and I feel that is actually insulting to readers of the world!  I did allow these comments to dictate my style a lot for a while and it started to kill me as a creator somewhat. 

I love how Neil Gaiman seems to be older than he is in some of the works in this book, some of the stories look as though it has been around since Queen Victoria and I love that about him and this book!  A lot of my stories are based in the Victorian era which is one of the reasons why I could never understand the problem my beta readers had with it – am I to have modern day urban language at a 1850s lord of the manor’s dinner party?  My work is certainly not contemporary usually. 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

I love the rawness of the novel.  I love how the horrific realities of life are imbedded within its pages; the girl doesn’t merely hunt the deer but straddles it and slices it to a perfect death for her and her fox’s food in the winter time.  Some might say that is overly descriptive and disturbing but life is disturbing anyway, so why shield from it?  It is good writing! 

I have been described by a home school tutor as being a very gory writer so perhaps I share in Ivey’s violent descriptions of life and the world?  Perhaps when I eventually approach the publishing agencies they may want to censor a lot of what I write, but I have seen many books which go beyond what even I think is acceptable, so they might leave me alone on that matter? 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I can’t talk about this book to many people as they often reject it as being too awful and the subject matter really is!  However, they often overlook the beautiful prose and philosophy that is hidden in the pages which makes it an absolutely delightful read for me!   I love the aspect of the afterlife and how emotionally connected this novel gets to become with its readers.  It makes you feel what the characters feel. 

It is very intense and I can understand why many people cannot tolerate that, but if you can push through the horror of this book and concentrate on Susie’s afterlife you will find that it is incredibly lovely, it is incredibly beautiful the things she does in the “before heaven” as I call it.  I love the pages where the author gets lost within Susie’s playtime in the afterlife, that is my favourite, despite how weird and distasteful I found a couple of the subjects, such as experiencing a kiss whilst possessing her sisters body, that was too strange for me. 

I write a lot of books about the afterlife and ghosts, as well as vampires. 

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I find it a fun all-rounder – there are comedy elements and basically a little bit of everything from above in the novel too, as well as being a traditional and classic version of epic fantasy.  I love the mix of creatures in this novel and there be dragons too, I love dragons, one of my top five favourite creatures to write about!

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Inktober Day 12 – The Kappa

The Kappa – Yokai of Japan

Today’s Inktober is based on a Japanese demon known as The Kappa part of the Yokai demons, he lives in embodiments of water, rivers, lakes and ponds.

Kappas are renowned for their obsession and passion for cucumbers and therefore locals often give offerings of cucumbers at festivals to the kappa’s to keep them from becoming harmful to the villagers.

Kappas have a naturally forming dip at the top of their heads which constantly hold water, if the water was to be accidentally spilled out, the kappa can become extremely weak or die.  It is said, if you are by an embodiment of water and you see a large aquatic humanoid which represents a human, frog and tortoise mixed together, sometimes they may seem like half duck and turtle that is a kappa and that if you do not have a cucumber to hand, this creature will either rape you anally and steal a part of your soul or tear your limbs apart as their second favourite form of food; So what do you do to ensure you are safe from this creature if you can’t give it an offering – you bow, these creatures are awfully polite and will bow back at you, spilling the water from their heads and rendering them helpless until they can top the water back up in its head giving you enough time to scarper!  Despite how evil all of this sounds, it is also thought that Kappas aren’t always malevolent, in fact often times they can be benevolent and help people who go fishing, particularly if they have been appeased with a cucumber or two.

In old Tokyo many people believed that if you ate cucumbers before going fishing you could prevent an attack, but then this act was banned by law because it was seen to be provoking the kappas to attack all the more!

 

 

 

 

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Vikings & Hob-Goblins

During the last week of December I have been researching mostly by accident Hob-Goblins and by design Vikings and their respective histories, customs and superstitions around the world.

I have had a Viking story brewing in me for decades but with no firm story grasped and I have had some new ideas regarding this, but because I know very little about Vikings as a collective, I felt that some research was necessary.  I found it weird that an idea I had about Odin actually clashed with mythological truth, it must have been something I learned once but had forgotten it.  The bit about the 8 legged horse.

As a teenager I ventured into spirituality first by learning about Norse witchcraft, the runes, the drumming, the festivals etc., but I never learned more about the mortal Viking history, like I am doing now.  I did know about their war traditions and their units, such as the screeching women and the berserkers through a game I used to play called Rome Total War.  Regarding Viking warfare and general ancient warfare, I would fare well in writing about it because of the amount of historical research I’ve done throughout my life regarding the subject as well as coming from a military family background.

By and large though, I know more about Spartan and Roman day to day life than I do the Vikings.  Which is why I am disappointed to find that the books I am finding at the library are mostly mythological.

I know it sounds funny to think about it, but I have learned more from watching “The Hairy Bikers” and “Gordon Buchanan’s” ventures in Scandinavia regarding food and dance than anything I’ve learned in books.

In fact, even more laughable is the fact that it is easier to learn more about the superstitions of the Hob-Goblin or Santa Claus than about the ancient Viking people.

There is one thing I have learned though and that is in Viking times it was a derogatory term to be deemed “A Viking” for it literally means “PIRATE”.  This was very interesting to learn.

I am learning accidentally about Hob-Goblins because of a book my son was gifted by his friend Alice.  This is the fourth calling to learn about Hobs and house folk in the past 18 months, something is pulling me towards them.  I have no idea what it could be, I have no idea of any story interest I might have in writing about them… yet.  But something is definitely trying to get my attention with this little creature.

I am a very spiritual person, so I believe in little folk like these and recently when I have been reading about them more actively and reading snippets out loud for my son Henry to overhear, I have noticed that the whole house is becoming more accident prone with food and drink and according to legend, this is a sign of a hungry or thirsty and very ignored little house hob.

Funnily enough, along with this, my husband has discovered that his tea is going down faster these days.  So now we have started to make an extra cup of tea in the kitchen and it seems to have stopped the accidents and weirdly enough an inch in the cup has gone down!

I have a lot of experience with all kinds of spirits in my life.  I have never done drugs and I rarely drink, if there is anything to wander about it is my sanity I suppose – but why do we shrug such things off and think someone nuts when little jewels like this are revealed?  Why is it so hard to believe in little fair folk and ghosts but it is fine to believe in God?  Really now, what is the difference?  Oh and for those hard-core atheists, just remember you can’t see ultra violet light and infrared without technology but it exists doesn’t it?  I rest my case.

I was told by a friend recently that my little forays into the spirit realm should be a subject for my blog, because it aligns with fantasy and horror for many people.  This is why I am starting to mention such things.  It has always been a part of me; I just never put it in the blog. 

Hob-goblins in particular have always been something I have been nervous of because of the stories of boggarts and trolls, though trolls are very different to boggarts and hob-goblins.  The nervousness stemmed from a horror movie I watched when I was little and it gave me nightmares, but these days I realised the movie was actually a fantasy comedy and I can’t help laughing every time I see it now.  “Troll” where I believe the real first Harry Potter came from!  A young boy’s sister is kidnapped into fairy world by an evil troll who was formerly a wizard who went bad and got turned into a troll as punishment by his former fiancé – the witch known as Eunice of whom the boy known as Harry Potter befriends in order to save his sister and all his neighbours in their apartment from the evils of the troll unleashing fairyland into the mortal world once again.  The movie was made in 1986 and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Obviously also, hob-goblins are found in the wonderful movie “Labyrinth” starring the late David Bowie, one of my most favourite all time fantasy movies where a young girl called Sara makes a wish she will soon regret, regarding her baby brother Toby.  The King of Goblin City descends upon her and makes a bargain that she has just 13 hours to find her baby brother in his labyrinth of surprises and dangers or else her baby brother will become a goblin forever!  A wonderful story, full of inspiration!

I wonder what my mind will make of these Hob-Goblins someday… I can’t wait to find out!

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Vampire Loyalty

I have been watching Vampire Diaries season one this week, I have just finished episode fourteen and I have to say, I am a little disappointed with the lack of vampire loyalty in the plot.  Vampires seem to kill more vampires than they do people in this show and I have to ask, what is that all about?  From what I know of vampires if they are not solitary creatures they are pack animals and I think that the writers here had a hard time trying to decide which type of vampire they wanted to write about.  It is like they cannot decide whether they want a solitary vampire, a vampire twosome that has run away from the pack, or a pack style vampire story.

That’s my observation so far with the series.

Another observation is this, when are we going to get a TV series that concentrates purely on vampires rather than mortal/vampire romances and also throwing in werewolves, witches and other things into the equation too?  When is this going to happen?  When are we going to get a TV series where vampires have vampire relationships and there are no other supernatural beings but them?

I am waiting on that…

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Fantasy Art & Gnomevember

Gnomevember is something I found whilst using WordPress reader and looking for the tag “Fantasy” as I love to do every day.  I am really glad I found it and I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t think it should be just an artist thing – I think it should also be used for writers as well, write a gnome story for Gnomevember, but of course, because I am both an artist and writer, I shall be trying to do them both throughout the month, if I have time along with NaNoWriMo.

I also learned that there are other months too, MerMay, Junicorn, Smaugust and Orctober. 

Now you’re probably wondering what are you talking about?

Well, where I found all these delightful things, simple, here https://rachelillustrates.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/gnomevember/ Gnomevember aims to get fantasy artists concentrating on gnomes throughout the whole of the November month, a gnome a day.

MerMay simply concentrates on mermaids and mermen.

Junicorn obviously concentrates on unicorns and so on.

It’s all in the spirit of Inktober and NaNoWriMo creative kick up the backsides.  It’s to get you doing something every day, working as a team to motivate each other, which helps not only to increase your creative social circle, but helps make you more productive, more regularly and get you into doing some of your art each day.  I think it’s wonderful and we should invent something for every month of the year, as we all, even professional artists and writers feel very sluggish sometimes.

I think there should be a Dracember (a dragon a day month for December).

I also think it would be cool to do one off days, not whole months.  Perhaps Howlaween, making sure you create a werewolf or a wolf for Halloween, either as a story or a piece of art?

Anyway, get visiting Rachel’s website, the link can be found above and get stuck into Gnomevember.

 

 

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Anne Stokes Aracnafaria

Anne Stokes is one of my favourite Gothic artists; if I had money I would try and decorate my house with more of her work.  As a Christmas present in 2012 my nephew Carl and his daughters gave me a 1000 piece puzzle of Aracnafaria, one of Anne Stokes masterpieces.  I finished the puzzle in just 10 days.   I am so proud of it, it’s still wrapped in cling film around a board that I had intended to use as a backboard in order to eventually frame it, but I have never got around to doing that and it’s stored on the top of my wardrobe.

As an artist I aspire to do work as great as Anne Stokes, however, in my own opinion it’s just an airheaded dream, because I am nowhere as good as Anne Stokes and I specialise mostly in what I think are cartoon dragons and animals.

 anne-stokes-spiders-1

 

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