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I Could Never Forget The Magic of Your Style

December 17, 2011

Good Afternoon, Spaceketeers! Okay, and good morning to you too, Spambot 367.

Sorry for the delay. Brother Buddy of Miles is guiding my hands as I start another day on this fine Saturnalia. I needed a solid rest yesterday, so I apologize for not giving you a proper post. Today I’m gonna pick up where I left off the other day, by talking about some of my favourite books and artwork.

I have a lot of authors I’m a big fan of, but there is a pretty definite short list of books that I refer back to as the roots of my writing style.
The first book that really hit home for me was actually Piers Anthony’s On A Pale Horse, the first of the Incarnations of Immortality series. The idea that someone would write a serious story about a mortal man becoming the personification of Death was a completely new idea to me at the time, and it was such an amazingly well written book, it utterly eclipsed my enjoyment of the Xanth series or any of his trilogies or early novels. Incarnations just brought together all of Piers’ various styles and abilities, and my love of paranormal cosmological tales was ingrained from there on.
The second book that really made a difference in how I tell stories was Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. Something about the ideas and the attitudes and the freedom it espoused just took SF to another place for me. I was entering puberty at the time, and I’m afraid it made a permanent dent on my attitude towards relationships and sexuality, all while informing my ideas about spirituality and morality, which no doubt spurred my impending exit from the Northern Baptist church I’d voluntarily been studying in since I was about seven or eight.
The third book that really grabbed my attention was Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy series, which in those days was still a trilogy, shortly to be joined by the fourth and supposedly final part (So Long and Thanks For All the Fish. ~ FYI Ed). The speed with which Douglas would introduce and dispose of new ideas and the cheekiness of his presentation was an absolute revelation to me, and I’m afraid it’s one I still haven’t recovered from. My writing style was immediately affected, and though my own voice has taken over my narratives, the manic glee with which I insert throwaway ideas has never left me.
When I discovered The Schrodinger’s Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson, I was ready for a paradigm shift,and I got it. Never before had I read something with such a strong metafictional narrative structure. Wilson is often dismissed as a latter day crackpot in modern times, but his books during that period (Illuminatus!, SCT and Masks of the Illuminati) really changed how I conceived of and plotted novels. It took me over a decade to properly recover from his influence and find my own way to plot and write novels.
Books that have heavily influenced me since those days have included the works of Tad Williams, Jack Whyte and Guy Gavriel Kay, Ian McDonald, Michael Marshall Smith and Samuel R. Delaney, John Crowley, Richard Grant and Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Clive Barker and… well, nobody else really came close to forming the perfect trifecta with King and Barker, for my money. I also discovered Philip K. Dick, Richard Bach and Terry Pratchett, who also had a huge influence on my thinking about storytelling.

Art is kind of a funny thing for me, because I’m an artist as well as a writer (and musician, but anyway). I’ve done painting, sculpture, sequential art, cartooning, CGI, and vector artwork, and I design my own book covers (which my old publishers never used, of course). My favourite artists cover several different disciplines, but the three biggest styles that influence what I do are surrealism, abstract expression and cartooning, as well as commercial graphic design techniques, which change with the job.
My favourite pieces of art are:
1) The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali

2) The Multiplication of the Arcs, by Yves Tanguy

3) Convergence, by Jackson Pollock

4) Water Lilies and Japanese Footbridge, by Claude Monet

5) Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh

I’m already late with this post, so I’ll spare you the art analysis and just say that these pieces strongly define much of what I find most interesting in paintings on canvas. That said, I’m also heavily influenced by classical Romantic period paintings, Impressionists and Post Impressionists, the Dutch Masters, the Flemish artists, and ashcan artists of the early 20th century. I’m also a big fan of classical illustration artists like Alphonse Mucha, Virgil Finlay, Maxfield Parrish, the Layendecker brothers, Norman Rockwell, and Kelly Freas.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss some of my favourite comic artists and writers, because frankly, they sort of need their own post. Thanks for reading.

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