Tag Archives: Suzanne Collins

Who influenced my writing? Part 1

Over the next few days I will be choosing three authors who has influenced me the most in writing and why; what did I learn from them by reading their books and so on? There will be eighteen in total and they will be placed in alphabetical order each day. Enjoy my first three;

Suzanne Collins showed me that writing about politics is necessary, particularly fictional politics, because politics is a major factor in every bodies lives whether they are interested in it or not.  Nobody can escape the politics of their country or their culture and their lives are influenced by it more than they realise!

She showed me that the government can eventually become anything and do anything and that it is our job as writers to think of all possibilities that could occur to arm the public with the knowledge to understand political trickeries. 

Her books showed me how to write characters that are trying to survive dense political control and how to overcome them in ways which inspire others, rather than just being a rebel without any real cause outside of themselves. 

She has also taught me through her writing, that even the most disgusting creatures deserve love and respect, because she is certainly the only writer I have ever read that actually made me feel sorry for and cry over the death of a cockroach!

Neil Gaiman showed me that writing has to be fun and you should play with ideas no matter how silly they appear, all ideas are worthy and all ideas will find people who love them! 

He showed me not to be afraid of my own sense of humour or my sense of darkness either and that everything about the worlds you build should have some kind of balance to them. 

He showed me to find sense of humour in dark things and to find dark things in the light!  He is very clever at this in all his works! 

Also no matter who the character is, their position in society, their outward personality, everybody has a hidden side, a fun side and he shows this well in his works too! 

Stephen King showed me not to make my writing too pretty because it doesn’t help your readers identify with your world.  In order to make a realistic world you need to put in some of the bad nitty gritty stuff occasionally.  People aren’t perfect, people falter and have flaws and every character you write about must show their flaws as much as anything else.

If you are writing horror, you have to get over yourself and your own sensitivities in order to write it more effectively, because if you are uncomfortable and squeamish and give yourself nightmares over what you are writing, then congratulations you are a horror writer that is going to succeed!

I’ve learned that you can find the most fearful or disgusting thing about anything if you put your mind to it, even a gentle walk in a flower meadow will have its horrors!  A dead rabbit lying amongst the flora rotting away with maggots and flies, or an earwig hunting aphids on a bellflower:

Thank you for reading! 

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Do you show yourself up?

I have started my writer’s journal yesterday (6th June 2022) and I was finding it insightful rethinking how my projects developed over the years and how I have grown as a writer.

Because I get so wrapped up in my projects I often forget to post on my blog, so I often do blog posts around two weeks in advance, just to help maintain activity here – because if I don’t, the blog goes quiet for three months at a time and I don’t like to do that!

Anyway, going back to my first paragraph of this post, I discovered that certain projects were bland when I originally started them – but over time, they fleshed out really well and morphed into something completely different, even character names changed to suit the new situations that ensued.

For example, I had a young child protagonist who was originally seven years old, she then became twelve and now the character is going to be fifteen.  Simply because of how the story developed into something much different and my goals are very different today than they were back then!

I also only had around five characters that were friends of the hero and helped her on her journey; this grew to become nine solid friends and a small number of fly by helpful friends.

I decided the villain dies in the end and that so does the heroine too, but this changed, I leave no spoilers as to my current decision or you’d be looking for it in any book that sounds alike, when it gets published.

But what threw me was the fact that the book developed when I developed – I don’t mean creatively developed, I mean, its subjects developed with what was going on in my life at the time of writing…

The heroine was a runaway –then she was not.

I was a runaway at the same time this story originated in my mind, the characters plot of running away changed, when I no longer felt the need to run away in my real life. 

This is a development I didn’t notice until I revisited the writing process to add to my current projects journal – it is interesting.  I used to pooh-pooh the idea about creative people subconsciously putting their lives into print and that people psychoanalysed everything that wasn’t really there, but, you know… I think there is something about all of that!

If you write a certain theme, it’s because you think or feel or have experienced it in the past or at the present and it is coming out in your writing. 

So be careful at what you are writing out there, I know a lot of real life bitches who tend to write a lot of romantic dramas where there are mega bitches and they just think, their work is set apart from themselves… but… hey… what will literary psychoanalysts say about you in the future, what will they see in you through your work?

It does reveal a lot – I have a writer friend who writes a lot of childish roles in her stories that are not entirely based around children and she struggles a lot with her inner child, she is trying to be mature, but she just can’t hack it and she doesn’t mind I am writing this, I asked her!  But she found it amusing about how accurate this seems to be even with her!

I know another writer who always wanted to be a rock star or a Goth, but was always nervous to do so because of societal stigma, particularly within the Jewish community – so, they write those kinds of characters.  Sorry I didn’t ask them about this, but being that they aren’t named… do they really mind?  I hope not!

You don’t know it until you see it!

But you write yourself in everything!

Since learning this, it has kind of made me paranoid about what people will think about me… but then again… I am happy with who I have become and I am happy I am not who I used to be anymore, so I won’t stress too much!

I just don’t want the analysts to harp on about my mental illness all the time and look back on me with pity!  I don’t like that.

The journal has been a revelation.

What is included in the journal is my journey and thought processes about what is happening in the book – any movies or books that influenced those pivotal scenes, are my characters actually a mock-up of say, my favourite movie characters?  Yes, actually, I can see that a lot in my work!  But it is unique enough to not come across as a total rip off!  That’s very important!

I have even included lyrics which also helped me think of scenes, with references to the singer and the song name. 

Why am I doing this?

Because these journals are on a work by work basis, when I get a piece of work published I have this goal that if I sell ten thousand books, I will send out to publish these snippets from my writers journal to show my readers how I got it done and what influenced me, because I don’t know about you – but I am a very nosy reader!  When I read an author’s book, I want to know more about them as a person, what they think and what they like so I can see who influenced them!  Because I love evolution!

Being a creative, whether you are a writer, song writer, musician, artist etc; you are going through an evolution which will influence and inspire other creatives in the future.  This is exciting and I love this sort of thing!  I am obsessed with evolution, particularly the evolution of the mind, culture and society!

At this point in time, there are hundreds of works by other people who have influenced all seventy nine of my nearly finished works, yes, seventy nine!  There have been many things which have influenced me several times over in most of my works and those are;

Nox Arcana music, art and lyrics

Neil Gaiman’s works, particularly his prose and comics

Colleen Doran’s Raphaelite style artworks

Various wrestling shows with their gimmicks and storylines

Aurora Aksnes lyrics and music videos

Anne Rice vampires

Vampire movies in general

Modern gothic art, particularly by Anne Stokes

Tim Burton’s movies and artworks

Ancient myth and legends worldwide

Roald Dahl’s works and movie adaptions

Lady Gaga’s music videos and lyrics

Stephen King’s works and movie adaptions

Brian Froud and the Froud families’ artworks and puppet movies

The Mad Max series and franchise

Mafia movies and history

Max Brooks works and movie adaptions

Children’s classic bedtime fairy-tales

Marilyn Manson music videos

Queen music and music videos and adaptions

The Rocky horror picture show and its adaptions

Suzanne Collins works and adaptions

The Animals of Farthing wood

Watership down and its adaptions

Wind in the willows and its adaptions

Monty Python TV shows and movies

Terry Pratchett’s works and adaptions

Johnny Depp’s characters

Robert Downy Jr’s characters

Gabriel Byrne’s characters

Al Pacino’s characters

Bette Midler characters

Kathleen Turner characters

Pam Ferris characters

James Earl Jones characters

Bon Jovi lyrics

To name but a few, I know it’s really a lot, but its few in the real number of influences I have had over the years!

So you see – you are what you are and you can’t hide it!

Happy reading everybody!

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My brain takes me here…

They say that the books you love to read, the movies you love to watch and the things that stick with you the most can be seen in your own writing. 

What you love is often reflected in your writing and once you know yourself well enough you write better.  Once you throw yourself into all of your passions and are writing things based on your passions or similar to your passions unashamedly, you will develop your style and you will therefore come across as unique and fresh in the genres you write.

As long as you stay true only to yourself, do not write for the market, write for you!

I hope this is true.  If it is, then you can more or less guess from my likes and dislikes what could end up being in my novels.

I don’t like to be predictable though, but it is true that there is a little of what I love in everything that I do

Below is a list of stories, books or movies in which I mentally visit and live in a lot, for some reason or another, I am dragged back there to relive scenes or add new ones in my mind.  However, I never write those reimagining’s down through fear of becoming a fraud!  Though I have sometimes thought about doing fanfiction!

1922 By Stephen king – this story in particular has actually influenced a horror I am writing, which is based around a well in a garden too, funnily enough.  But the story concept is poles apart besides the setting of a well. 

Spider By Hanns Heinz Ewers – Every time I see a spider I remember the story.  Every time I see a woman working at a loom or spinning yarn, I think of this story.  You would think that wouldn’t be very often then, but I know a lot of prepper, homesteading type ladies who do this regularly.  I have wanted to do this myself; I have always wanted to make my own felt too. 

The complete collection of The Wizard of Oz By Frank L Baum – So many imaginative things in all the stories, living china dolls, servant monkeys, it’s absolute joy!  The landscape descriptions, oh my word, they are divine, I just can’t help but bring myself back to those scenes. 

Smoke and Mirrors By Neil Gaiman – So many lovely stories and poems in this book, I presume they are poems in any case?  I see them as such, I love the prose, I just love the way he writes!  It is very soulful writing. 

The man in the picture By Susan Hill – This is the only book in my entire reading history, of such length, that I have read and could not put down even for a toilet break!  It is just so gripping and I loved it, it had a similar air to Dorian Grey, but in my opinion much better executed.  I love Venice, never been, but still, always wanted to, love with a passion masquerades and carnival life. 

Matilda By Roald Dahl – Ever since I was little, since Victoria Wood read this on TV I have loved this story and nagged my mum in buying me the book, but she never did.  I must have borrowed this book a hundred times from the library before I became an adult and bought it as part of a trilogy compilation.  How I wished that my soul got angry enough with the people in my life that I could play with the supernatural like she did!  It may have solved a lot of my childhood problems, or created worse ones, who knows? 

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – Very alike to Wizard of Oz, the scenes are great, but I also like crazy characters, madness or at least the descent into it ideas.  I love kooky takes on animal and plant life and this was such a joy to behold.  The artwork etc, I love everything about Alice in Wonderland and I have an addiction to collecting Alice in Wonderland novelties.  There were times I pranced around in life hoping I fell down a hole where things were very different too. 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – If you can actually manage to read the whole book and get past the awful main scene, you will actually find this book very deep on an emotional level that is not just traumatic, but beautiful too.  If you read deeply, push past the horrible stuff, it is very meaningful.  How the dead view the living, how the living cannot move on until the dead does, what dead children do in the heavens.  Living out their wildest imaginations; yes, a lot of it is weird and sickening, but I urge you to try and edit those horrible bits out of your mind and read it without those bits.  It takes strong stuff to do that, I know!  But honestly, it is a lovely book besides. Try to skim the nasties.   

Confessions of an ugly step-sister by Gregory Maguire – I love Cinderella anyway, but this plot was good and more to the way that I thought it was behind the scenes.  I love how I learned real history in this book too, the bit about the tulips in Holland.  By the way, that’s another addiction I have – tulips.

I.T By Stephen King – I used to be scared of clowns, big time, before I even learned about Pennywise, but it is funny to actually say that I loved the character Pennywise so much it lessened my fear of them.  Weird I know!  In the past two years in particular, I have lost my fear of clowns entirely and now enjoy them, in fact, they are becoming the main projects for my art!  I just hate the scene of little Georgie.

The Mad Max Movies – I have a thing for life on the road, roguish living, post-apocalyptic tribal societies and the general chaos of survival as whole societies descend into madness.  For this reason too, I think I like the next movie;

Reign of fire movie – I love subterranean settings and when you throw in dragons in a post-apocalyptic world I am in my element. 

Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins is another subterranean setting I love, full of gothic elements such as bats, rats, roaches and gore with an edge of the apocalypse feel to it. 

The Blue Bird starring Shirley Temple – this has been in my mind since I was a very small child, a lot of things about this movie can be seen in small snippets of some of my work.  I have mentioned Old father time and I have cats and dogs which can take on a human form, children trapped in dream time in a couple of my stories to date so far.  No Spoilers, because they were just passing things in the plot, not the actual plot at all.

The Karnstein Trilogy – I love this much more than Dracula, I love the movies and the books they were based on.  I loved it so much that I had been heavily influenced by this trilogy my whole life; I have had to be careful when writing my vampires in fear of coming off as a plagiarist.  You may see what I mean with what I mentioned in “The Blue Bird” paragraph.  I have had to learn to chop up everything I love and move them around genres and different stories, like some experimental stir fries. 

I shall write about the tropes and scenes and types of characters I like in future posts – keep eye out for those!

Happy reading! 

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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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