Here's what's shaped me:
Childhood Book: I discussed the children's book, Ma Liang and the Magic Paintbrush, on here before. It's a wonderful Chinese mythology picture book. I still have it. I must have read it (at least looked at the pictures) hundreds of times. This book fostered my love for reading, especially world mythology.
Childhood Movie: This one's easy. Star Wars. I was 5 years old. I saw it in the Philippines, actually. King Arthur, Beowulf, old Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers, and the Japanese samurai film, The Hidden Fortress. These are all the things I still love today.
And then when I came back to the States, we saw it again in a drive-in theater. This movie has everything a kid could want: cool battle scenes, spaceships, and an awesome villain. Star Wars draws from
Hobbies: Martial arts. Maybe it's because it's in my family, but I loved learning how to fight. I studied Escrima/Kali, Chinese Kenpo, and Kom Da Kwon. I got in a few scraps as a kid (and young adult), but I stopped training when my first child came along. Martial arts has helped me with writing my fight scenes. Not many writers know what it's like to get roundhouse kicked to the head, or to smash your knee into some one's solar plexus. I draw from experience when writing fight scenes, because using movies are your guide is so inaccurate.
|Bruce Lee WITH Escrima sticks!|
Great Teachers: I was lucky to have a bunch of them. In college, Dr. Hirschfield was "My Captain." He was controversial as hell, and got in big time trouble with the University. He was a published poet who wrote about escaping Nazi Germany with his mom and little brother. In creative writing class, I showed him a big binder of my work, and he encouraged me to read them out loud in class. He told me that I was a novelist (and a horrible poet, which I knew), and that I needed to pursue it. Or else he'd kick my ass. I believe he eventually was fired.
The Classics: With my degree in English, I read a lot of the classics. Beowulf, Moby Dick, The Odyssey, The Count of Monte Cristo, and everything by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne of course. But I am heavily influenced by all of Shakespeare's works. I remember reading and studying all of his plays: Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, King Lear, and Romeo and Juliet. I love the drama and the witty dialogue. Shakespeare was the king of dramatic irony. When the reader knows more than the characters, it really increases the tension.
In his book, I am the Cheese, there's a phone number on one of the pages. It was Cormier's actual home phone number! I was a high school English teacher, and we were reading After the First Death, so I decided to call him and ask him about the ambiguous ending. His wife answered, and she handed the phone to him. He was so gracious, and we spent a good 15 minutes talking about his book. Then we got to talking about writing. He told me to keep plugging away, no matter what. He even told me to call him next year, but he passed away a year later.
I continue to plug away. Every day.
What has inspired YOU?