Sunday, March 20, 2011

Influences. Like the flu... get it? Influenza??? Lame

Top that for ridiculously stupid titles.

There be a tailypo...

Positively or Negatively, many people throughout my life have played important roles in steering me toward the writing life. For that I'm grateful. Am I grateful for the pain and the rejection along the way? Maybe not, but without it, I wouldn't have any credits to my name. I'm just gonna ramble these off in no particular order.

Dumb bully neighbor Stuart - For wearing full football gear (pads, helmet, cleats) one afternoon to play a pickup game in the neighbor's yard. You were a few years older, much bigger. We had no access to such heavy equipment. And you bowled us over like a shot put exploding into plastic tenpins on an inflatable bowling alley. Thanks for the material you goof ball!

J K Rowling - The queen! The storytelling goddess. You had me at Hullo. My wife and I shared our first two years together reading out loud your words to each other complete with voices and sound affects. The upstairs neighbor, Lucia (I called her Lucious) hated my guts and would shout obscenities as she pounded on the floor with a boot and demanded I stopped reading so loudly at 2 in the morning. You changed my life and direction for writing. Middle Grade and Teen were the destination and I thank you for it.

Jennifer Judd (a.k.a. big sis) - The real writer in my family. She wrote this crazy little chapter book called Blip when I was but a wee lad and it mesmerized me. How could she fill up so many pieces of paper with a continuing idea? I think she even illustrated the piece (circular blips with stick legs)... Brilliant!

Senior year, Creative Writing Teacher that didn't let me join the class - Just hearing what the students were doing in your class, second hand, was enough to instill a drive within me to want more. I've never been so heartbroken from not making it into a high school class.

Joanna Galdone (Author of The Tailypo) - This story scared me so bad, I not only wet my bed, but I wet my parent's bedroom floor as well. Sorry for the imagery. Six months! Six months, I tell you! I didn't sleep soundly for half a year! When you're only six years old at the time, six months would be like 3 years for me today. That's insomnia in the worst form. Scary lil' book.

Stephen King - You may not like his stories, or his demented, twisted brain, but you have to respect his ability. Man, that dude can write and weave a yarn. And people know him too. I just saw a picture of Tom Clancy the other day at a bookstore. Not what I expected. Dan Brown? No, not really what I expected either. But Stephen King? Spot on. How many writers could you pick out of a line up? Stephen King with his cut-off sleeves, and mullety hairdo, and heartless eyes. I read my first King novel at 16 and shortly after the night terrors began.

Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi - I loved the Spiderwick Chronicles! The short little episodes. The imagination of it all! The illustrations. The pleasantly surprising creepy parts. I read the books and felt inspired to write more.

J.R.R. Tolkien - As you can read from my fellow mancavians, I'm not the only one with this influence. One day I want to write a novel of epic proportions similar to The Lord of the Rings. I want to be old, rich, possess ad English accent, and I want to hang out at a local pub with C.S. Lewis. Every river and bush has a name in his world. I don't even know the name of my next door neighbor.

I have dozens, nay, hundreds more influences in my writing life, but I'll save those for another time.


  1. Great list of inspirations! Great story about the High School teacher. I wonder if the teacher knows how well you've done! Not to rub it is the teacher's face or anything--heaven forbid!

    It's true--we are influenced in ways we can't imagine. I'll have to admit many of the evil characters in my books have been inspired by former bosses.

    Oh, and when you find that pub with C. S. Lewis and Tolkien, look for me in the corner, trying not to look frightened as I read The Tailypo.

  2. I had a similar problem in regards to teachers. In high school, I was writing a fantasy novel and some of the teachers I knew loved reading it. At first, I thought they were being polite, but they kept asking for more and offered a lot of advice and encouragement.

    Then in college, I found that my professors absolutely hated that genre. In fact, one professor asked me NOT to workshop that same manuscript and promptly told the class that she hated Fantasy and had a hard time reading anything in that genre.