We all have our favorite books, authors, movies, actors, music and bands. But how much of that creative fuel actually changes the way we approach our art? I can safely say that even though Daniel Bryan is my favorite pro-wrestler of all time, he doesn’t make me want to adjust my writing style. In other words, even though I prefer watching Mr. Bryan over other wrestlers, he’s not necessarily an influence to me. An influence is someone you model your work after, not just someone who tingles your senses. Soulfly is one of my favorite heavy metal acts of all time, but they don’t change the way I write stories. So what does influence me? Who are the people and what are the mediums that make me want to become a better writer? I never gave much thought about this until now, and as of today, there are ten items on this list. Starting with…
***DIALBO II: LORD OF DESTRUCTION***
I’ve always credited this computer game with giving me a fascination in barbarians. I’ve always loved using melee-ranged warriors whenever I played RPG’s and the barbarian personifies that in Diablo II in a way no other class does. Actually, that’s not entirely true since the paladin’s fire and cold auras can jack him up like Brock Lesnar, but who’s keeping track? Bottom line, if it wasn’t for Diablo II, Deus Shadowheart, Brutus Warpath, Corey Darkside, and Magnus Warcry would never be possible. I’ve always considered Deus to be my honey child despite the fact that he’s an overloaded Gary-Stu. He finally found a story to be a part of and that short story is appropriately called Deus Ex Machina, a high fantasy tale that preaches teaching people how to do stuff as opposed to doing those things for them. Deus Ex Machina is one of the cornerstones of my soon-to-be published anthology Poison Tongue Tales. But it’s not just barbarians that held my fascination. Hannah Jason from “Bee Jay the Glutinous” is a sorceress, Marcus Edge from “Stardust” is a druid, Edwin Stryker from “Crossing the Line” is a paladin, so many characters were influenced by the dark magic Diablo II is known for.
More and more these days, whenever I’m riding in the car and I see a dilapidated neighborhood through my window, I always tell my brother James that said neighborhood looks like a stage from Final Fight, a beat ‘em up arcade game where most of the stages take place in ghettoized buildings. Ever since rekindling my interest in this game earlier this year, lots of Dungeons & Dragons campaign, novel, and short story ideas have come from those broken down buildings. I’m still waiting for the day when I can sit down with James, Reina, and Shara and guide them through an adventure that takes place on a shit-infested subway train. Stage backgrounds from videogames have always fascinated me, but the biggest piece of creative fuel I drew from Final Fight was Mike Haggar, a pro-wrestler who pile-drives, suplexes, and clotheslines Mad Gear gangsters into powder. When I wrote the first draft of “Occupy Wrestling” back in 2013, I wanted the main character Mitch McLeod to be a throwback to Mike Haggar in terms of body size and outfit, right down to the shoulder strap and the plated boots from the second Final Fight game. With thick rimmed glasses, pale skin, and puffy spiked hair, Mitch McLeod keeps himself from being a complete clone of Mr. Haggar while honoring how badass the Mayor of Metro City really is.
This one’s a no-brainer in so many ways. Where do I begin? Well, if I didn’t have such a zealous love for pro-wrestling, “Occupy Wrestling” wouldn’t be possible. If it wasn’t for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic award, I wouldn’t have a basis for how to build Keegan Day from the ground up since he’s supposed to represent everything wrong with the wrestling business. But what about the dark fantasy aspects of WWE wrestlers? The Undertaker is without a doubt the biggest one with his necromancer gimmick. Bray Wyatt as a sadistic cult leader will always be an influence on the creepy monsters from “Occupy Wrestling”. Stardust and Goldust? Well, if I ever decide to write the sequel to Occupy Wrestling and call it “The Black Widow”, Rosie Rogers will be a parody of the
brothers’ bizarre gimmicks and she’ll be called Angel Dust. WWE will always be
my favorite form of violent entertainment. Ignoramuses who call it “fake” can
say the same thing about other forms of fiction like Harry Potter, Lord of the
Rings, and Game of Thrones.
Stephen King once famously said that if you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time nor the tools to write. In the summer of 2009, I finally got the wakeup call I needed when I read “The Cleaner” by Brett Battles, a fast-paced, exciting, well-thought-out novel that set the standards I now have for the books I read. My tastes have changed over the years, but “The Cleaner” will always be what I base my reading and writing on since that was the novel that set me on the right path. Jonathan Quinn really is a badass character and Brett Battles really is a badass author. Check out this book whenever you get the time.
***PINK FLOYD THE WALL***
I started listening to Pink Floyd on a regular basis when I moved to
in 1996. Back in those horrendous
middle school days, I loved hearing Roger Waters say, “We don’t need no
education!” I didn’t gain a full-fledged appreciation for The Wall’s message
until I watched the movie version of it quite frequently in my sophomore year
of high school. Seeing those faceless children plunge into a meat grinder made
me fear conformity so much that I resisted everyone’s attempts to break me. If
it wasn’t for Pink Floyd the Wall and its message of anti-conformity, lord
knows where my creativity would have ended up. Maybe I wouldn’t have made it
out of high school with my individuality intact. Maybe there would be no
Garrison Kelly novels. Chehalis, Washington
***KILLER BE KILLED***
Okay, so this super-group hasn’t been around for a long time, but their song “Snakes of Jehovah” is a huge part of the reason why Occupy Wrestling is a success (in my mind at least). After Keegan goes to a minimum security jail for corruption charges, he has his robe and snake mask-wearing henchmen, The Snakes of Jehovah, do his bidding for him to make sure the police don’t interfere with his behind the scenes work. These faceless minions are blessed with magical powers, creepy limbs, and the ability to put up a barrier just by forming a circle and speaking in tongues. Thank you, Killer Be Killed, for putting out such a badass album! Without you guys, Keegan would have to shell out even more money from his billion dollar bank account to keep the police at bay.
With intelligent speaking abilities, a raunchy and dark sense of humor, and a disdain for politically correct policies, George Carlin gave me permission to be as wild and crazy as I want when it comes to my writing. Before watching my first George Carlin routine, I had to rely on comedians like Johnny Carson, Benny Hill, and Bill Cosby to be my creative fuel. Being as young and naïve as I was back then, those three comedians’ messages didn’t ring true for me the way that Carlin’s did. I feel so good about my comedic abilities that I currently have a novel idea sitting in my reserve stack called “Suck It, Double Dork!”, which is basically one long rehashing of Carlin’s joke about making rape funny by picturing Porky Pig sodomizing Elmer Fudd. They’re cartoon characters; nobody gives a shit what happens to them. Even at the age of 71, Carlin died too soon. Rest in peace.
When I reviewed Clerks and Clerks II, I should have given both of those movies five stars instead of four. A lot of the well-spoken dialogue from those movies is the basis for my characters’ dialogue and my writing was well-received because of it. I wish I would have known how to interpret creative fuel in a more mature way when I was a teenager and a twenty-something. Otherwise, my first movie script Pumping Filter wouldn’t be such a mess of racial and sexual slurs from Pulp Fiction. As I look up scenes from Clerks I and II on You Tube, I realize that it’s not enough just to copy a style of dialogue. It has to fit your story’s world and sound 100% natural too.
***DUNGEONS & DRAGONS***
It’s a pencil-and-paper role-playing game where my love for dark fantasy themes is rekindled and reenergized once more. Many of my player characters and villains from these campaigns went on to become major players in many of my stories. Brutus Warcry, my level eight human barbarian, had his last name tweaked to Warpath and he became the main character for a short story called “Stone Cold” about a barbarian who wants revenge for his fallen wife. Bob Rua, a tiger monk and MMA practitioner, was the main character from “Tiger Bullet Kick”, where he guards a tomb full of treasure from a necromancer and a newly awakened mummy king. Charles Goodhorn, a paladin with a dark past, will be the main character in a novel idea called “Barbaric Justice”, where three intergalactic barbarians hold a trade route hostage in exchange for the means to return home. So many characters, so many stories, so much fun!
Maybe this detective show was responsible for my teenaged works being so offensive and crass due to its blatant TV-MA rating. Over a decade later and it becomes central to a novel idea called “Silent Warrior”. Spoiler alert, high school introvert Scott George has sex with his vengeful history teacher’s daughter and says to him, “Your daughter’s pussy tastes like sweet butter.” Okay, so maybe Silent Warrior isn’t as extreme or brutish as The Shield, but the writing style and dialogue have a lot of similarities, especially when, spoiler alert, Scott gets put on trial for having sex with a minor while being 18 years old.
(Gnaws on a carrot) Meh…that’s all folks! Wait a minute, wrong Looney Tunes character. My bad! Hehe!
***LYRICS OF THE DAY***
“I’ve got the obligatory Hendrix perm and the inevitable pinhole burns all down the front of my favorite satin shirt. I’ve got nicotine stains on my fingers. I’ve got a silver spoon on a chain. I’ve got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains. I’ve got wild staring eyes. I’ve got a strong urge to fly. But I’ve got nowhere to fly to. Oooo, babe! When I pick up the phone, there’s still nobody home.”
-Pink Floyd singing “Nobody Home”-