Castles, Rats and Writing influences #amwriting #scifi #fantasy

I have always been a castle fan. Maybe it’s growing up in the UK where you can stumble across castles and their ruins just about everywhere. Or maybe it’s my sister’s fault for taking me out walking to explore them at an impressionable age. Either way, I love castles and everything about them.

I think my early love of castles and dragons and all things mystical drove my initial interest in fantasy fiction. Later, I headed in the direction of sci-fi, but I do still love both genres, and in particular books that cross the genre boundary.

So when it came to choosing a genre for my own book a sci-fi / fantasy was my immediate choice.

In my early teens I started reading a lot of Harry Harrison. Not exactly the obvious choice for a teenage girl! My brother (ten years older) introduced me to the Stainless Steel Rat series first. (The Stainless Steel Rat is an inter-galactic crook turned crook-catcher). And then later to the Death World series. I loved both series!

If you have read any of these you will know that Harry loves his worlds where the technological meets the primitive, and in most of his sci-fi books he explores this to some extent.The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted

So, if I was to put an influence on my writing it would be this rather odd combination of Hobbits and intergalactic crooks! More importantly, it would be these worlds within worlds.

My book is neither the tongue-in-cheek style that Harry Harrison uses, nor the flouncy, over-descriptive style of Tolkien, but hopefully something more mainstream.

In terms of characters, I like my characters to be at least slightly realistic, baring in mind this is a story and we do need to do something more interesting with our characters than send them for a happy walk in the park. However, I hate extreme character changes that just do not make any sense, such as the heroine who suddenly turns from a fey teenage nerd into a ninja. I like my people to be fundamentally ‘something’ and to be dragged kicking and screaming into ‘something’ else only after a lot of failure and trauma.

Character change is an amazing part of a story, but I also like them to remain grounded. Yes they change, but they also have certain mannerisms and beliefs that never change throughout the story.

For example, the Stainless Steel Rat’s love interest is a psychopathic crook and killer – she changes, but it’s very tenuious and you are always slightly nervous that she may at any moment regress. For me, the parts of the character that change are as interesting as the parts that don’t. When I start a story I know exactly what aspect of my character’s personality will change and what won’t, and I stick to this.

I am also a fan of using many perspectives, this later influence came from reading authors like Stephen King and Michael Crichton. Not all their books, but at least some of those I have read, use many perspectives. I have also read a lot of fantasy books, such as the Game of Thrones and the Wheel of Time series, which typically use many POV’s,  and so I find it near impossible to write from one, or even just two, character points-of-view. I write like I am watching a movie, and just as a movie can move between scenes and people, so does my story.

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