On Reading

I was thinking a while back, trying to remember what the initial inspiration for Hidden was, after my mother-in-law asked me how I came up with it.

It wasn’t any one thing. I can point to definite influences:

The action-packed, emotional, angst-ridden feel that Marjorie Liu attained in her run writing Marvel’s X-23.

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The bleakness and sense of foreboding, as well as the passion, in Wuthering Heights.

My home city of Detroit. You can’t spend 36 years of your life in a place and not have it impact your worldview, your creativity.

Wonder Woman’s goodness, kindness, and take-no-bullshit brand of badassery.

 

 

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Greek mythology. Obviously.

So it was partially inspired by all of these, and I think readers who are familiar with any of the above can probably see how they have influenced my work.

But it’s not just those things. Those are the more obvious, outward manifestations of what inspired me: mood, personality, tone.

The more I thought about it, the more determined I became to figure out what tied it all together, what thing it was in my past that made me come up with Molly and the crew.

And finally, it came to me.

Jane Eyre.

It didn’t hit me until yesterday, but I owe a ton to Charlotte Bronte. Stay with me here.

  • Young woman raised in really crappy circumstances, who learns that she can only rely on herself? Check.
  • Young woman grows to be caring, responsible, and kind, despite that crappy childhood? Check.
  • Woman grows up and is determined to make her own way, to live by her own terms as much as she possibly can in her situation? Check.
  • Woman finds love in an extremely unexpected place, with a man who seems wrong for her? Check.
  • Man fucks up majorly, losing the woman? Check.
  • Woman moves on from heartbreak, and learns how strong she truly is? Oh, hell yes.

I didn’t do this on purpose, and, as I said above, I didn’t even realize Jane Eyre (though it’s one of my favorite books) had an influence on the series at all, other than Molly mentioning that it was one of her favorite books in Strife. This is just the unexpected, almost-magical way creativity works. This is why any writer who knows anything will tell aspiring writers (and established ones, as well) that they must be readers, that they need to fill their minds with stories, characters, tropes, and settings. Not to copy them. Not to be a second-rate anybody — but to provide a wealth of amazing things that come together with your own unique experiences and viewpoint to make something totally new. Something no one else would come up with. Two people could live in the same area, read the same books, and still create amazingly different work.

Stephen King said it best:

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You just never know what is going to end up inspiring you. And the things you learn about language and the amazing things it can do just can’t be learned any other way.

With that, I’m going to go read for a while. Have a great day, all!

 

2 thoughts on “On Reading

  1. Kathie Littlemore says:

    You have me doing some serious thinking about this from a reader’s perspective. How reading, for the most part, has replaced the oral, storytelling tradition. Reading is so much more than quiet entertainment. It can open one to new ways of thought, new ideas, new ways of life. Life without books is like living in a bubble.

  2. Sarah Wicks says:

    I can see those things from Jane Eyre. Really glad that poor Bertha didn’t creep into the tale though. Molly seems to show that you can create your own identity without having to oppress an ‘other’.

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