I’ve never been one to follow trends or pander to a
particular audience. I write what I feel like writing, in the hope that if I
like it, others will too. It might mean my books will never gain much of a
readership but it feels like the only way to be true to myself, and more than
that, it feels like freedom.
But why do I write SF? And why my particular brand
of SF? What were the inspirations that led me in this direction?
It’s not something I’ve ever tried to analyse. Barb just posted a wonderful piece about why she writes romance and the importance of love in our lives, but I'm having trouble pinning down what compels me to write SF. What I'm going to do is take a look back at books and films that have inspired me and maybe I can work it
out from there.
So, I doubt whether this post is going to be of interest
to anyone at all, but from a personal perspective it was a blast putting it
together, a real trip down memory lane. There are so many books and films that
have inspired me, way too many for a blog post. For Part 1, I’ve picked a few
from my childhood.
There was a series of books by Enid Blyton: ‘The
Island of Adventure’, ‘The Castle of Adventure’, and so on. Didn’t everybody
love those? They were such fun. For me, I loved the sense of discovery as the
children uncovered nefarious plots in interesting locations.
Then there was Roald Dahl. My Dad read ‘Danny the
Champion of the World’ to my brother and I once on a camping holiday. I think
my brother liked it more than I did – maybe it was too down-to-earth for me. I
went on to read ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Charlie and the Great
Glass Elevator’ and loved those. I adored ‘The Magic Finger’. Maybe it was the impossibility
of it all that appealed to me – the idea of an elevator going up into space,
and people being turned into birds.
Maybe I’m attracted to the bizarre and
I think ‘Pippi Longstocking’ by Astrid Lindgren
appealed to me for similar reasons – it was her amazing strength that I loved,
and the way she was so unconventional.
I remember a few novels about children placed in survival
situations. Funnily enough, I don’t think I particularly enjoying reading them,
yet bits and pieces have stuck enduringly in my memory. Stories about surviving
extreme events and situations are inherently powerful and they always show
something remarkable about human nature. The best were probably ‘Children on
the Oregon Trail’ by A. Rutgers van der Loeff, and ‘Hills End’ by Ivan
I have particularly fond memories of novels by Joan
Aiken. ‘Midnight is a Place’ and ‘Black Hearts in Battersea’ were my
favourites. I think it was the way she imbued the children in her novels with heart,
character and individuality as they strove to cope in a dangerous, adult world.
When I was in my tweens, a friend introduced me to
The Lord of the Rings. What can I say? Wow. Thinking back, though, I was never
a great fan of epic fantasy apart from TLOTR. What I really loved was the Earthsea
trilogy by Ursula LeGuin, with its hero who, despite his strong magical
abilities, struggled to find his way and not turn to evil. Maybe it is this
psychological aspect that appeals – it’s certainly an aspect of my books. The
second in the trilogy, ‘The Tombs of Atuan’, also influenced me towards series in
which the main character from one book becomes a secondary character in
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that my list so far has
not included any science fiction books. It wasn’t until my mid-teens that I
started reading sci fi and thrillers, two genres that I still enjoy today. I’ll
have to discuss those in Part Two, else this blog will go on forever.
I was primed to enjoy sci fi already, though, by childhood exposure
to the Star Wars movies. These have had a huge influence on me. It was the
cinematic wonder of it: the starships and the stormtroopers, the aliens, the jedi
lightsabers, and the wonderfully evil Darth Vader. Magical and unforgettable.
Again, there was that moral dilemma of choosing the
difficult path of good against the easier path of evil – an especially strong
theme in “The Empire Strikes Back’. Perhaps I’m a sucker for this age-old
battle. I certainly hope I’ve managed to get a little of that Star Wars
cinematic wonder into my books.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for sticking
with me in my personal reminiscences, and stand by for Part 2 in which I expect to wallow in self-indulgent memories of teenage reads.