Looking At Influences

I was talking about how reading can influence how I write in my last post and it got me thinking about deeper influences that affect not only my writing but also who I am.  When I was a kid, and I mean pre-teen, I listened to a couple of Alice Cooper albums and Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell II : Back Into Hell and the Alice Cooper stuff really left an impression on me.  Now I can’t remember the albums that they were, aside from Trash.  My brother had these albums and I think one of them is Lost In America.  What I remember is the vibe coming from some of the songs.  One in particular had the line “We fight, because we’re not on the same side”  That one line has really stuck with me in the twenty odd years since that I heard it and it is something that I think brings down the concept that your enemy could have been your friend if they, or you had been born somewhere else.

Another great song he did was one where he is talking about being the monster in the closet and under the bed which fascinate me as its pushing our fears into our heads.  Alice Cooper writes music which slams our nightmares into our minds as we’re awake.  I must start buying his albums and getting the collection.

Where am I going with all this you may be wondering.  Cooper’s music has a real sinister edge to it and I cant help but wonder how much that has been ingrained into me as a person.  Some of what I write is very dark, some of it scares me if I’m honest but I think it has a sinister edge to it.

Just some of the ideas alone have properly sat with me, I have a story about two soldiers from different sides who realise that they are not what they thought the other would be.

With the Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman music I don’t think that it has sunk so deeply into me but it is definitely there.  Just the concept of Hell being in the title and the imagery struck me strongly and I will write a story with Angels and demons in one day (I have a great idea for it) I think I took from this music the enormity and theatrics.  This music really tells some really good stories which, again have stuck with me.  Objects In The Rear View Mirror Appear Closer Than They Are is still one of my favourite songs ever!

Another song that I cant help but think had an effect on me is Gangsters Paradise by Coolio.  Some of the lyrics in this song are very powerful and still sit with me.

I’m in danger of listing every song that has a line that struck a chord with me here so I’m going to try to get to my summary.

All of this has left a lasting mark on me.  It is these things that we have around us when we are young that we absorb and it stays with us for life and is part of who we are.  So if we are of a creative mentality then it will come out in what we create in some way.  That could be in the same mould or totally opposite to what we had around us.  I remember Ozzy Osbourne saying that he was inspired By The Beetles and although I am not an authority on either The Beetles or Ozzy Osbourne I would never put them in the same musical genre.

At the end of the day though I say that if you have an idea, just write and see where it goes 🙂

What’s In A Name?

I was talking to a friend recently about how giving a character a name made that character come to life. The conversation started after I’d said that I had put a post on facebook basically asking if anyone wanted to be ‘killed’ in the story that I’m currently working on (it’s my NaNoWriMo story). This led to me saying that in the novel that I have co-written and am about to re-write I have people that I know named in it but none have their full name mentioned except one. I had decided to name this one character after a friend and once I started playing some ideas out in my head the characters personality really began to come through as I wrote and he’s become someone that I want to have in the story. The character and the person that he is named after are not carbon copies of each other, but the spirit of him is there and that makes the character much more real. If I could get that depth into some of my other characters I’d be well happy.
This does beg the question of just how much of us is in our names. Many of my friends call me by my nickname, some of them I don’t believe have ever called me by my forename and one of my friends has a long name which is shortened and it suits her.
I do think a name can be defining of us as it can evolve as we do. Would we love Del Boy as much if we only knew him as Derek Trotter? Would Bruce Willis be the action hero if he was known as Walter Willis? Or how about Ozzy Osbourne or Meat Loaf?
These are all people that have a name that they are known by which isn’t what is on their birth certificates but it’s who they are. True, a rose by any other name is still a rose, but that’s a plant. Two roses can be the same, two humans cannot be.