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What Media Did You Consume As a Kid That Influences Your Work?

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Is there any media that you consumed as a kid that still influences you today? Disney is definitely on my list, with the prince, and magic, and adventure. Probably even things like Power Rangers, a group of friends battling evil monsters. But going waaaaaay back, I'm told my Dad read his fantasy novels out loud to me when I was a fussy baby. I have no memory of this, but I'm pretty sure it sunk in subliminally. How about you? Do you remember what your early influences are?

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A ton of mythology and folklore books and fairytales. So many. 

Quite a lot of older British kids books with cute talking animals. Winnie the Pooh, Paddington, The Animals of Farthing Wood (I think it was called?) And The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and all the rest.

A Wrinkle in Time.

The Hobbit and LOTR was read aloud to me as a kid as soon as I could comprehend it. I loved the whole 'riddles in the dark scene'! However, their obsession with Tolkien didn't transfer because I still have not read LOTR myself cover-to-cover. After having been there for multiple rewatches of the extended editions of the films (plus DVD commentary) and traveling around Wellington looking for the damn costumes, I did my time in Azkaban, okay?

Of my own accord: I enjoyed The Edge Chronicles, which was just the right amount of weird for me (sky pirates!), and Mortal Engines, which is sort of... Mad Max steampunk. I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy earlier than I should have in order to get the jokes. Borrowed The Colour of Magic from my mother after she couldn't be bothered with it.

Movies - I enjoyed stuff like Atlantis, Treasure Planet, The Dark Crystal (we had the book of the movie for some reason?), also comedy like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride. I was massively into Star Wars which I suppose you could describe as "wizards in space" so it makes sense. But I stuck with the movies and videogames; the novelisations never grabbed me.

I never quite jumped onto the Harry Potter train which was popular at the time, so I have a... lack of influence, I guess? I mean, I've since watched the movies and gotten halfway through the books, and you kind of pick up a lot anyway from fan osmosis because at one point it was impossible to escape, but I was never "into it" like many people. 

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I don't know how heavily a lot of these things really influence me now, but they definitely influenced me when I was a kid.

Books - I found a reading log from when I was in first grade, where either I or someone else would have to read a specific book and they'd write down what the book was. Mostly it was Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan.

Movies - sooooo many!

Wizard of Oz - I don't remember how old I was when I watched this movie, it's just always been "there," in my mind as my favorite movie. I wanted to BE Dorothy. If I had to guess, I'd say I was at least in kindergarten or first grade. Apparently one of the girls who was in my second grade class remembers me for my obsession with it. XD

98% of the classic and newer (like, 90's era) Disney movies - Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, etc.

Non-Disney movies- The Swan Princess and Quest For Camelot

Labyrinth, The Princess Bride and The Dark Crystal are probably the other three big fantasy movies besides Oz that I was introduced to from the fantasy genre.

Animorphs was one of my favorite book series in middle school, and I definitely wrote what was essentially fan fiction. I have the journal I wrote it in still.

My biggest influence: Star Wars. I think this largely comes from having been a lonely kid without a ton of (reliable) friends, especially when I was younger, but I don't know where I would have been without Star Wars. I don't know if I would have been writing or not, or if I would have waited until middle school or high school to start writing fantasy and have never gone through that period where I was writing Star Wars fan fiction.

Harry Potter has definitely been an influence, but not as big as Star Wars. I was eleven when the first book came out, but I wasn't obsessed with it like most people were/are.

I've always been an imaginative person. I remember playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was in preschool, but instead of being one of the turtles I was April O'Neil. I also remember standing in my kitchen and telling my parents that they were Uncle Henry and Auntie Em (I wasn't kidding when I said Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie).

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Loads of inexpensive paperback books, the greater part of them science-fiction, and especially all the re-releases of Edgar Rice Burroughs's stuff that coincided with my youth. That led to a great deal of wider reading and eventually fantasy (though I didn't get into--or maybe 'get'--Tolkien till I was older). The Ballantine series of classic fantasy novels was definitely big, and introduced me to William Morris, Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith, etc.

Incidentally, the paperback rack was right down the aisle from the model airplane shelves in the local hobby store and I always had to make a choice of which to spend my money on. Those models definitely stimulated my imagination too and I could follow a thread from them to my shortly-to-be-released non-fantasy adventure 'The Dictator's Children,' which has it's share of 'vintage' airplanes. 🙂

If I go back a little further, books on paleontology and archaeology first evoked a sense of wonder in me. Especially paleo-anthropology (i.e. prehistoric man) eventually. That has stayed with me and I have not hesitated to drop a few 'cave men' into my stories.

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I read a lot of Astrid Lindgren when I was a kid. Ronia The Robber's Daughter, Pippi Longstocking and Emil of Lönneberga, which were all about kids struggling to be free from the adult world and turned old conventions on their head. My female main characters have a good deal of Pippi in them. She was quirky, spoke her mind and wasn't scared of authority, I really liked that as a kid. And now too! I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie-books until they fell apart, and that gave me a lot of love for adventure. They met frightening animals, and strange weather and just kept going. I adored Eva Ibbotson's Which Witch? about the nasty witches of Todcaster, who competed in black magic for the marriage of a great wizard. They really stuck with me (more so than the beautiful white witch heroine) and I loved them to bits. One of them wanted to marry the wizard because she wanted his teeth for her necklace. Now that's a goal, lol! When I found Terry Pratchett's witch books, they really reminded me of the Todcaster-witches. I wouldn't be surprised if he was pretty inspired by Ibbotson.  

I was a kid before kids had their own televisions and stuff in their rooms, and there were like 2 channels, and I watched what everyone else was watching, so before my teens I read a lot more than I watched television or went to the movies. We read comic books too, and Donald Duck was influential for me. He was such a personality; sneaky, laughed at his own jokes, got angry easily, was jealous, and always had crummy jobs, so he was very relatable. He also created a lot of problems for himself, and then tried to fix them but usually made it worse. A lot of other comic book characters were always solving other people's problems and were all goody-goody, but Donald wasn't. He was an awesome main character in a lot of ways. I blame him and the witches of Todcaster for my high demands for entertaining characters. 😛

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Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Paul Feval, Michel Zevaco, Rafael Sabbatini, Karl May, Walter Scott are still some of my favourite writers and it can be shown they influenced my writing of historical fiction/ swashbuckling adventures. Western movies and swashbuckling ones, too.

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@Pinchofmagic Pippi Longstocking! I read a bunch of those when I was young too. Ronia the Robbers Daughter is great too, though I only read it as an adult.

Another one I read, not super young, but in high school, was Mervin Peakes's Gormenghast. I've been meaning to reread them, I love the creepy desolate atmosphere and the helplessness of the residents of the castle, stuck in their ways. I can't tell you exactly HOW it influenced me, maybe the love for run down places and faded luxury.

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I'd say that the Little House Books and the works of LM Montgomery, particularly the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon books, really stayed with me, perhaps not so much as a writer, but as a person.  Same with Jem and the Holograms (the original 80's cartoon).  They added something to my sensibilities and how I viewed the world.

I think a lot of my writing may have also been influenced somewhat by LM Montgomery, as I often find myself using some older phrases and such that people don't use much anymore.  However, I think I was more influenced by a lot of fairy tales I read as a child.  My grandmother had this set of books, Child Craft (from the 1960's I think; I'll have to double check when I'm downstairs again), and every time I went to her house in the summer, I HAD to read these books.  Usually I just read the fairy tale one, but there were other ones that had folk lore and such as well.  (The science ones are so outdated by now that they're hilarious, but that's a different subject.)  The authors of these varied, but there was just something about the fairy tale style that appealed to me, and even now I have trouble 'showing not telling' because most of those old fairy tale stories were TOLD.

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The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, definitely.  I continually checked that out from the library and finally got my own copy when I was an adult (and it had to be the copy with all four books in it with the same cover the library one had).  I loved how Wrede turned the traditional fairy tales on their heads and had the heroines save themselves (and, y'know, DRAGONS!).  I read tons of books.  After we started homeschooling we were at the library at least once a week.  No limit on how much we could check out so long as we read them, and I devoured everything.  Little House on the Prairie.  Harry Potter.  Hank the Cowdog.  Every King Arthur story I could get my hands on.  Also books on medieval history.  When I found out I was Welsh on my mom's side I researched all things Welsh I could find (difficult), tried to learn Welsh by language cassette (too difficult, switched to French), and studied medieval castles and weapons (the Backyard Ballistic's book was banned in our house for some odd reason, so my brother and I took up sword fighting by, um, "procuring" broken shovel handles and numerous rolls of duct tape).

Music was a big influencer.  It was either 90's and older country music or new age like Enya, Kitaro, and Yanni.  Every day we would load up the truck, pop in a CD, and listen to something on our way to a patch of land where we kept our goat herd.  LOTR's music was highly influential when it came out, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Epic scores really grabbed a hold of me and helped me "see" my stories and characters like movies in my head, so I still cultivate a playlist for each project to return to as inspiration.  We listened to certain CDs so much that if I hear a particular song today I can vividly remember earlier projects attached to bits of real landscape we always drove by.

Movies were big, too, because we never had cable, only a handful of local stations (we finally got Dish when I was, like 18).  Young Guns 1 & 2, Dances With Wolves, Buffalo Girls, Lonesome Dove, The Shadow Riders, and Rough Riders formed my early love of the western genre.  Anything Billy the Kid was fascinating, and so was the Dalton Gang when I learned I was related to them, too (the running joke of our family is that we were either outlaws, lawmen, or kings and none of the family ever liked each other).  The Mummy really hit on my love of archaeology and monster mythology, and Tremors was great for snappy, comfortable sounding dialogue (and monsters).  When we switched over to DVDs I always watched the behind the scenes portions.  LOTR was the most extensive and it gave me a refreshing look at how you could put stories together in depth, so I always have tons of world building material and history bits done up for my stories.

I can't really remember any other specifics, there were a lot.  As a kid I would obsess over something for a long time until I got what I wanted from it and then moved on to something else.  All of it influenced my writing once I could articulate what I wanted to emulate about it.  I still do that to a lesser degree today.  Right now it's The Umbrella Academy, Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies, and one of my Spotify playlists with a lot of female vocalists.

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1 hour ago, TricksterShi said:

LOTR's music was highly influential when it came out, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Epic scores really grabbed a hold of me and helped me "see" my stories and characters like movies in my head, so I still cultivate a playlist for each project to return to as inspiration.  

Oh, yeah. Music was amazing inspiration. One of my strongest memories was getting the Soundtrack to the movie "Labyrinth" on vinyl in the 80's. I remember where the record store was and how it smelled and the pattern on the carpet, and the record was expensive, but so worth it. There was just something about that music that I loved. I wore that record out. But you mentioned the two soundtracks I really love and still listen to for writing inspiration. They're awesome. 

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2 hours ago, TricksterShi said:

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles,

Oh yeah I forgot about these ones too. So much sass. I think they were my first exposure to subverting tropes too, and playing with them. A breath of fresh air for SURE.

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20 hours ago, Penguinball said:

Oh yeah I forgot about these ones too. So much sass. I think they were my first exposure to subverting tropes too, and playing with them. A breath of fresh air for SURE.

That series was soooooo good.  Though I wasn't very young when I first encountered it.  I think I was a pre-teen/early teen.  I read the first two then.  I had to hunt down the rest as an adult.

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17 minutes ago, Mynoris said:

That series was soooooo good.  Though I wasn't very young when I first encountered it.  I think I was a pre-teen/early teen.  I read the first two then.  I had to hunt down the rest as an adult.

I'm fairly sure I read them in late elementary school, maybe 10-12? Definitely on the list of 'formative works' though.

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My dad used to read The Lord of the Rings to me as a bedtime story. I grew up with my parents hosting their D&D group at our place as long as I can remember. Add to that some Disney and anime and you've got me. 

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