Sunday, August 12, 2012

Two Writers Who Influenced Me

Many, many years ago, when I was a teenager and was starting to take the idea of becoming a writer seriously, there were a couple of writers who I admired more than others. I tried to read everything I could get by these two, and they came to have an influence on what and how I wrote.

H.P. Lovecraft

It's become a cliche' today to be influenced by Lovecraft, but back in the 70s he was not nearly so well known as he is now. The only editions of his writings were the Arkham House paperbacks, which I read as soon as each one came out.

What appealed to me was the atmosphere Lovecraft created, and the overwhelming sense of dread of the world around you. His imagination created the most unusual creatures, alien beings from galaxies far away, creatures that sounded absurd and just a bit comical if you took the descriptions out of context, but by the sheer power of his writing, made them terrifying- so terrifying they could drive you mad, which often happened in his stories.

What was also so unique about his writing was his concept of a cosmically indifferent universe. These bizarre creatures weren't evil, they just were. They didn't care about humankind one way or another, but if humanity happened to get in their way- oh well! They weren't gods who demanded obedience, but in humankind's limited perception, that's how they were seen.

These concepts boggled my mind. Today, Lovecraft is more popular than he's ever been. There are websites, publications, even conventions celebrating his work. I'm glad he's getting the recognition he's due, but I'm also jealous that he's not my secret discovery any more.

I'm working on a Lovecraftian story of my own, one set in my adopted city of Portland, Oregon, in the present day. I hope one day I'll be able to give you notice of it's publication!

Ray Bradbury

I related to Bradbury not only as a writer, but as a person. He grew up in the Midwest United States in a time he considered simpler, easier, more magical, more honest, and so did I. In "Something Wicked This Way Comes," a young boy, who looks at his father as a failed man, wants to run away and join the circus. How I related to that scenario! In his short story "The Murderer" he writes of a man who rebels against the control that increasing mechanization has on his life by murdering his house. Again, how I related!

In much of Bradbury's writing there's a dread of what the future brings- a loss of freedom, a loss of choice. This speaks to me on a personal level. Bradbury also created vivid characters with a strong sense of themselves, strong feelings, passions. All this spoke to me.

I recently had my writing described as similar to Bradbury's, and that couldn't please me more. Personally, I know I'll never reach his level of storytelling, but to have his influence recognized, is gratifying.

If you're not familiar with these writers, or only know a few of their works, I highly recommend seeking out more. It'll be a journey well worth taking.

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