Tag Archives: influences

Influences 4 – Nature

I have always been interested in nature. One of my very first memories was of receiving a book called A Naturalist’s Guide to Great Britain. I still have this book even though it was given on my seventh birthday. I used to peruse the pictures and then try to identify the same things when outdoors. For some reason, and for someone with such a bad memory, most of the nature stuff stuck in my brain particularly birds. I still look for hawks and buzzards every time I go outside.

When I grew older — I won’t say taller — I made a point of visiting and holidaying in places that were linked with natural beauty. I’ve been lucky in visiting such wonderful countries as Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden as well as many others renowned for their scenery. I have loved them all. I think this is why I love a view and at some point in the future, if ever I could afford a permanent one, it would mean more to me than any amount of material possessions.

There are two things that have brought me peace of mind. The first is writing — I honestly hate to think where I would be without creating. The second would be when I’ve been as far away from other people as I could get: the top of the Eiger in Switzerland and the Arctic Circle. I dream of those two individual things being one. I love it quiet and I love stunning scenery.

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Wengen Switzerland

Author’s Note: If I remember, I’ll write a post about my visiting the Ice Hotel in Sweden, having to go to the loo in the middle of the night in nothing but my boxer shorts and a pair of trainers and walking past a bar full of very drunk people. They went quiet. I went red.

I have concerns about whether the next generation and certainly the ones after them, will be able to admire as much natural beauty as I have. This worry is probably reflected in a lot of my short writing for WordPress and with more subtlety in my long-form work. I become frightened whenever I consider the consequences of our acts. So much now rests in the hands of humanity and those hands are greased and sweaty.

Life is a delicate balance, a see-saw in a hurricane one might say. Life is colour and sound and texture and the sum of our collective imaginations. Life is also a constant source of inspiration and nature personifies it. I’m not sure what I would do without a few green trees, unkempt hedges and a stream or two. I wouldn’t write the same as I do, that’s for sure. Food for thought.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers / Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Soon!)

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Influences 3 – Fantasy

My love of Reading

There’s something about the word that drips from the tongue, fan-ta-sy. Three syllables became my sanctuary. I’m thankful for them daily.

It all started when a little girl — not me, thank you very much — walked through a wardrobe and stepped out into snow. Wow! Could you? Would you?

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There was a simple answer for one young lad who wanted his own space, his own little world to live in: yes. Perhaps it was isolationism or just a desire to dream during the safety of day instead of risk the terrible nightmares he suffered every night? I still can’t answer that, but my future was set. Not only this, but I secretly promised myself that at some point, at some time, I would write something that released others in the same way that the incredible C. S. Lewis did for me.

Once one develops a taste for a certain genre of writing it can rapidly develop into an obsession. It did, too. Every penny of pocket money, odd jobs and birthday money went on comics and books. We weren’t well off and neither were my extended family, but one advantage of loving the written word is that generally, you don’t need to be. I bought, collected and read. It made me happy.

As I grew from single figures into double and onwards, my lust for reading never evaporated although it was kept secret from my friends and even family to a degree. Being sporty, which I was and still am, it would have been unwise or at best ill-advised to advertise a passion for books to the world if you know what I mean. And so my secret horde grew. Foremost amongst my collection was the author Michael Moorcock and for one good reason: Elric.

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Elric was first written as an exact opposite to Robert E. Howard’s classic Conan the Barbarian. Where Conan was muscular, powerful and epitomised physical might, Elric did not. The albino prince of a dying race, Elric survived on drugs and sorcery. He prayed to Arioch, a less than redeemable God, and had a general dislike for everyone: just my kind of guy. When Elric (and I can’t remember how he actually came to own it) finds the sword Stormbringer — wow, what a name — the circle is complete. Elric’s sword sucked souls and passed that vitality to its owner. The white wolf was born and my love of antiheroes with it. I read many Elric novels — Moorcock was ever prolific — and was staggered that right at the end of them, my hero was killed by his own blade. So many twists. So many possibilities. So much scope to learn from in my desire to write. I read EVERYTHING that Moorcock wrote and still own upwards of fifty of his novels. One of my few regrets of youth was not getting to meet him at a book signing. I drove, then walked many miles to get his autograph only to find it cancelled when I got there. For someone as shy as me to have plucked up the courage to do so was devastating.

Fantasy can be interpreted in so many ways and so my reading diversified. I vacuumed up Gene Wolfe’s poetic prose, Ray Bradbury’s never ending imagination, everything and everyone from age old classics to the latest in modern writings. I enjoyed them all and still do when I can find the time to read. Fantasy provided an outlet, an escape, a place beyond the sneers and angry words of what to me did and still does seem a vicious world. At times, anyway.

The best Fantasy authors have the ability to not only drag you into their worlds but make you think they’re real, possible, plausible. I think this is why I did and will always prefer Fantasy to Science Fiction. No matter how good a Sci-Fi novel is at its core you know it’s not actually happened, where just perhaps a Lewis or Tolkien might have been to their worlds. Maybe that’s just me, but I like to think it.

In these days where computer games deliver sights and sounds to our every sense, where cinema slams ideas in through our eye-sockets, I feel very sorry for those kids who aren’t given the freedom to use their own imaginations as of old. There is and never will be anyplace like the deepest parts of our own minds. We have such scope, such magnificent horizons available to us that lie just waiting to be unlocked. I hope children in particular can return to these places over the next few years. Things often have a way of going in cycles. One can hope. As for me, I’m now writing what I was once reading, and it’s still the only thing that really makes me happy. Long may it continue.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

http://mybook.to/TheEternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

All Images courtesy of Goodreads.com

Influences 2

I was a massive Marvel comics fan (never DC) when it was definitely not cool to be so. Even now, my friends would not know I once collected them. Long before special effects brought comics to life, my mind did the business for me.
I embraced comics, I think because I was a dreamer — still am. As a little kid, I'd save my pocket money and choose with relish from the few shops that stocked the original US imprints. One supermarket even packaged three Marvel comics for 15p, which tormented due to the fact they were wrapped so you could see the front and back but never the middle issue. What would it be?
My biggest joy was always the Avengers — I took great pleasure in choosing my own team — Spider-man, and later the X-Men. However, despite being overjoyed at purchasing (when I could) the aforementioned comics, my favourite issue, and appropriate now due to the Netflix series, was an Iron Fist one.
This particular comic had every element I dreamed of: fantasy; mysterious realms; cool characters; a taste of the Orient; snow. Even better than the mythical aspects of the Thor comics particularly a storyline about Ragnarok, the death of the Norse gods, the Iron Fist story involved K'un-Lun, an alternate take on Shangri-La (a major player in my later writings). I still treasure it even after almost forty years of ownership. Here it is:

Not many folks will have one of these.
PS. To any youngsters reading, that strange device in the top right corner is a bicycle. We used to ride them in the past.

I believe comics to be one of the most underrated mediums for creative expression. This doesn't apply quite as much as it used to, but there is still a snobbery attached to them when compared to books. Thank goodness for writers such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore who have readdressed this imbalance.
I still own hundreds of comics all packed away in storage boxes. It is one of my few regrets at leaving employment to write full time that I can now no longer afford them — sacrifices and all that.
I believe we should encourage kids to read anything (within reason) they can get their hands on. Stimulating the mind through reading, pushing the boundaries of the imagination, will bear more fruits to a child's development than ever being force-fed a computer game or TV. That's my opinion, anyway.

I hope you enjoyed this and as always thank you for reading.
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
The Eternals
Hunter Hunted
Into Eternity (Soon!)

Influences 1

Author’s Note: Today, I’m introducing a new section to my blog. I’m hoping people will find it interesting to read what has and still does influence my writing, as I’m pretty sure most of it will surprise you.

A little background: I have eclectic tastes in both literature and art. I like what I like. As I’m sure you can imagine, as a writer, both mediums feature highly on my list of influences. So, I thought I’d start with somewhere that incorporates both.

Today’s influence is JAPAN.

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There’s always been something about Japan that’s stirred my soul. The country is different, elegant in a way the West is not. It’s probably no surprise then that several Japanese mediums rate right up there in my list of influences. Here are those stories, films, books etcetera that I will always be grateful for having seen or read. If any are new to you, I would recommend giving each a try.

On a side note, the characters of the Sunyin monks, the oldest holding particular significance in my books, would not have developed without my love for everything Japanese.

Film: Lost In Translation. My favourite film. If ever something was me this is. Not Japanese in the true sense of the word, but set there. A true exploration of a culture counter to our own. I love it’s understated brilliance.

Manga: If you love Japanese Graphic Novels, you’ll always love them. Ghost In The Shell, which is soon to be released as a major movie, was my introduction to such things. This was followed by Death Note a battle of wits that just keeps on going and finally Vampire Hunter D. All three were visual in both the art and the storytelling, so much so that I bought several Vampire Hunter D novels to essentially read without pictures. This leads me on nicely to my next subject.

Anime: I love Japanese animation and in particular the work of Studio Ghibli. Three of their films, even if some might claim them for children, would rate in my top ten: Spirited Away; My Neighbor Totoro; Howl’s Moving Castle (Based on the Diana Wynne Jones book of the same name). Ponyo would be up there too, but I never admit to it. The Japanese have a more subtle approach to animation than the West and their portrayal of children will always be superior in their perception and portrayal of innocence.

Art: Yoshitaka Amano. I so wish I knew if I could show his artwork here, so instead have created this link. Take a peak. Take a look. Take your time. Stunning! You won’t need me to explain why if you do.

Books: Last but not least comes the literary side. I own many translated Japanese works, but one author stands above all. Haruki Murakami is a master of his chosen art. I often think Murakami could write about the contents of a bin liner and make it a surreal masterpiece. Both Norwegian Wood and After Dark would rate in my top ten books and many more would rate not much higher still. I don’t think anyone can blur the transition of fantasy and reality like Murakami. He is unique. If I could be perceived in the future as even a quarter as good as he, I’d die happy knowing my work well done.

I hope you’ve found this interesting and that something might have caught your eye. It is a good thing to broaden one’s horizons, I think. The wider our range of input, the better the narrowed down output. At least, I hope so.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of the Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (SOON!)

The Book List

Today, I thought I’d do something a little different. I don’t talk a lot about myself, as you all know, but thought I’d list some of the books that have made me who I am.

My whole life has been formed around the books, (and comics, as I’ve loved them since it was definitely not cool to do so) that I’ve read. Long before I wrote, I read. I was and still am a prolific reader who enjoyed receiving a book or comic as a present more than I would a car or a house (I’m still the same now.) The biggest single thrill of my young life was going into the city (York, England) and choosing a new book with my own saved money.

Here is a list that I think represents me from childhood right up to the present day. These books are not necessarily my favourites, though some are, but they are a fair representation of my reading history and what it has taught me.

I have listed the books as I have progressed in life from young to old-er. (that’s right – old-er!)

I hope you enjoy.

Richard

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

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If ever a story made me who I am it was this. As a child, I longed to visit a world so wonderful and believable as Lewis’s creation. The Narnia books were the first I bought and devoured. I still can’t help looking in wardrobes to see if there’s snow there.

The Forest of Doom

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The Fighting Fantasy books taught me that a story could not just be set on one definite path but be both versatile and exciting. These books were new, different and most of all fantastical.

The Rats

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One prerequisite of a teenage boy is that he suddenly likes rock music, leather and horror. The Rats delivered, and for the first time in my life I felt a bit of a rebel.

STORMBRINGER

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Stormbringer and Michael Moorcock himself quite literally changed my life. I was blown away by his anti-hero Elric. The weakling King with a sword that fed him souls, quite often of those he loved, was genius. Moorcock created Elric as an opposite of the Conan character and reading this book inspired me more than any other to become a writer. I will never be as good as my literary hero, but even a fraction would suffice.

The Silmarillion

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The Silmarillion is the single most convincing work of how Fantasy can be made legend. If this book was dug up two million years from now, the people of that time would consider it  their Bible and that Elves etcetera DID exist.

The Inferno

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And thus a love affair with poetry was born. Dante Alighieri could have written about a bin liner and made it sound poetic. Outstanding!

Death At La Fenice

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I went through a period of reading stories about places I would love to visit. I’m lucky I’ve gotten to most, but Venice still haunts me. One day.

Norwegian Wood

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After Moorcock, Murakami affected me most. Murakami has the skill to write about anything and make it surreal, dreamlike and utterly compelling. Some of his stories lose you, others don’t, but either way, you HAVE to finish them and move straight on to the next.

Of Mice and Men

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Steinbeck taught me that a story does not have to be hundreds of pages long, nor of a subject matter so intense as to fry your brain. Simplicity and innocence are the key here. I dare anyone not to have tears in their eyes.

To Kill A Mockingbird

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I have an inbuilt resistance to reading, (or doing) what others do. I like to plough my own furrow, as we say around here. I don’t like being recommended books; I like to discover them. I don’t like being told what to read; I want my own decision to sweep over me. To Kill a Mockingbird was the singular exception to my rule. Thank god I took my Mother-in-law’s advice. Possibly the greatest book ever written, and that’s coming from a lover of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

I hope you enjoyed my selections. It was very difficult to choose them as I love so many. I have over fifty Michael Moorcock books alone just as an example. Everybody will have their favourites, but I don’t think you can look back and truly understand what reading has done for you until you reach a certain age. I have.

As an aside, I found listing my books like this quite therapeutic and would strongly recommend it to anyone else.

Thanks again

Richard.

All images courtesy of Goodreads.com

Richard M. Ankers author of The Eternals trilogy.

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