Influences of a Writer: From where does inspiration spring?

To quote a character in a Rodger Zelazny novel “If I knew I would walk over and stand there”. I love that line, although I do have an idea where my inspiration comes from. It is a short walk to my bookshelves. The things I love to read and the genre’s I prefer to write in creatively are tied together. I was thinking about the stories and authors I love to read and how I got turned onto them at a young age.

I was interested in fantasy from an early age having read and enjoyed the Narnia series. Then I was given the Hobbit, followed by the Lord of the Rings and my love for fantasy was cemented. I have read those once a year since I was about 11 years old. By the time I was 15 I was reading the Silmarilion yearly as well. Then I was introduced to the aforementioned Rodger Zelazny. He wrote both sci-fi and fantasy and sometimes both, (which is difficult to do well.), in the same story. His Amber books are what hooked me. After the late great Zelazny I found Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, Frank Herbert’s Dune series and sci-fi became cemented in my favorite genres for reading pleasure. After sci-fi I was then introduced to classic horror or gothic romances with Bram Stoker and Mary Shelly, Frankenstein and Dracula in the original forms. I branched out to Stephen King and my love of the horror tale was cemented at that time.

Creatively that is where my obsession lies. Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, they all are genres I have played with and enjoyed doing so. Some would say they are all in the same realm as the fantastic stories. Either way those are where I get my reading pleasure and inspiration to write. Interestingly enough I was introduced to all of those mentioned and more by my brother John. The first book I read in any of the genres I listed was given to me by John starting at an early age. He was the one who passed on the knowledge of these wonderful worlds that I could explore and have explored ever since. Thanks John, it is appreciated every time I sit at my computer to write, or pick up a book to read.

These are thoughts on some of my own inspiration and influences, what about yours?"Alas! Poor Yorick...I knew him well"



The Man in the Maze, by Robert Silverberg, is classic Science Fiction at its best

The one thing that occurs to me about the great, classic science fiction stories is how the writers could tell such complex, thoughtful, exciting stories, and do it in fewer than 200 pages. The Man in the Maze does that to perfection.

"Alas! Poor Yorick...I knew him well"It is a story of isolation and social alienation. I know that sounds strange; exciting and social alienation in the same description. The story is about a diplomat named Richard Muller. He is picked to go represent the human race to an Alien race, the first intelligent life humans had discovered. Something happens to him that opens a psychic ability and broadcasts his emotions, and feelings. Unfortunately humans can’t tolerate it and he becomes an outcast amongst his own people. He decides to put himself in isolation on an abandoned planet within a dangerous maze.

The maze is deadly to all who try to get through it, but Muller makes it through to the center where he can live in peace without any interaction with anyone. He sets up shop with supplies he brought as well as the local animals for sustenance. He believes he will live out the rest of his days there in his misery.

This is an extreme look at isolation and can hit a nerve with anyone. We all at one time or another feel isolated and want to be alone. It is strange how we hate the isolated feeling but contrive to be alone at the same time. This book highlights this part of the human condition beautifully.

After nine years Muller’s isolation is interrupted by earth coming a calling. Earth needs him for one more diplomatic mission. Another alien race has discovered them and is trying to enslave them, not knowing humans are thinking, feeling, people. Muller would be proof of that for these new aliens. The drama involved with the decision Muller has to make, coupled with the action of his fellow humans having to run the deadly maze to get to him, makes for a deep, yet action packed ride of a story.

Now I always have loved a good big book. I was excited when I got my last Harry Potter book and it was as monstrous as the previous one. Yet there is a stark beauty to a story with just a few named characters, a relatively simple premise, and galaxy spanning implications, told in a short amount of time. Silverberg manages to pack these weighty themes into an action packed tale with no feeling of rushing the pace. The Man in the Maze is a great piece of art to be enjoyed and cherished.

That’s not Silverberg to the right, just me.



Thankful for Books-Even E-Books? Yes…

English: Open book icon

English: Open book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though I do not take part in the reading by computer, (unless for work), I have to say, if it keeps people reading, go for it. Originally I was not a fan of the devices or even the idea. I am a book man.

By that I mean an actual book. Real cover, real pages, where you actually have to turn the page, not touch a screen. I am not comfortable with that screen form of digital media. I have spent far to much of my life with a book in my hand, or in my pack, or in the car, or just somewhere nearby. It is what I do. I have come to realize however, that if that is how people want to get there reading intake, good for them, they are still reading. Hopefully something entertaining, enlightening, adventurous, tear-jerking, or just plain relaxing. The same stories told between the covers of traditional books can be found in most digital arena’s. If not, just wait, it will not be long.

For those like me, do not despair. Traditional books are not going away. I had a friend tell me ten years ago that books would be a dead medium in five years. It will never happen, because there are enough of us young and old who appreciate the qualities of a book opposed to a tablet. The giant  book store chains are going away, and that is fine with me in most cases. The book industry will just have to restructure how they do things. Hell, the music industry still sells vinyl! Once publishers figure out the new market and act accordingly, things will even out, and both sides of the e-book argument will  be satisfied.

Although for those who have everything on e-books beware. In case of a power outage, your friends with old school books may charge you to read them. It is only fair.


Thankful for Books! The main reason I opened this blog…


Conversation (Photo credit: Peter Nijenhuis)



Discussion, discussion, discussion. That is the main reason I  started this blog. I learned in school that discussion with other parties interested in literature can be almost as good as the reading experience itself. There will always be different opinions and views that you may not have noticed, and if you keep an opened mind, you can learn from.


Think about those people who, on first read of the Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, only saw the horror of children’s deaths, and killings. Perhaps in discussion with others they realized the social, economic, and cultural aspects of the world of the book. Perhaps then they found the book more interesting and even did a re-read to see what they may have missed. This does happen all the time, and no matter if opinions are made, or broken, it is a good thing. Discussion is part of the learning process, and it is the part that makes learning fun as opposed to work.


In my case I can remember an incident where a friend and I were discussing the Lord of the Rings, (big surprise there), and he said that he believed the character Tom Bombadil was perhaps the “God” of the Middle Earth mythology. I had not heard that one before and it made me think more about it. Yes, I know, only real Tolkien geeks get into discussions of this sort, but the point is, I had to re-analyze and think from a different direction than before. That is the important part of discussions, whether about universal health care or Tom Bombadil. You have to be able to come at things from all sides to appreciate and understand them. Personally I am still not sold on old Bombadil being God. Maybe I need to do another read to look into it again. It is far more complicated than universal health care



Anyway, let us discuss this. Have you had a learning experience from book discussion? Come on, fess up.



Thankfull for books! Always keep one handy, they are a must have at all times.

There are many reasons to be thankful for books. Excitement, drama, education, enlightenment, and also they are the great sanity saver. Have you ever been in the doctors office and had to wait? Of course, that was rhetorical, because we all have. Getting you oil changed? The DMV? (shudder). Have you ever tried to read the dog eared, two year old magazines that are kept in these places. Except the DMV, they just have informational flyers and pamphlets. Yet if you are stuck there you will inevitably end up reading them. (shudder). These are the reasons I always try and make sure I have a book in reach. Sure I could use my phone and go to Facebook and see what my friends had for lunch, or what politician pissed them off today. I do not really care though, anyway it is a toss up whether the DMV pamphlets are more entertaining or not.

So I always have a book handy. That way, instead of listening to the mechanic tell someone they need more work than they came in for, or listen to the other patients talk about whatever is going on in their life, I can take a little trip. Maybe visit France in the Dickens The Tale of Two Cities. Or perhaps go to Pern, or Middle Earth, or a thousand other places that are far more entertaining than the above mentioned alternatives. There is also the added bonus of how time is different when you are reading. It goes much faster, and before you know it, your car is done, or it is your turn at the DMV, or the doctors. In fact it goes to fast sometimes and you are caught in the middle of something good when your name is called.That is annoying, but not near as maddening as it would have been without the wonderful distraction of the book of your choice.

What do books distract you from?

English: A photograph of the table of contents...

English: A photograph of the table of contents in The Writings of Charles Dickens volume 20, A Tale of Two Cities. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)