For me, there are many things that have inspired my writing; from the experiences I have had through my life, to the novels and films that I have enjoyed. Everything has an influence on me, be it the small bulletin on the news or a conversation I have overheard. They have all sown the seeds of an idea, some that, to date, I have used and others that are there, waiting in the back of my mind (or on a scrap of paper) to be used.
I have spoken to a few authors and many of them have said that they are influenced and inspired by everything around them, that they absorb all they see, using life to water their fertile imagination. Of course, we are all different and work in many different ways – but the end result is the same. We are inspired by life and the experiences it offers us.
Growing up, I was, like so many other young boys in the late 1970s, besotted by Star Wars. George Lucas’ masterpiece would have me off on adventures on my own, waving my lightsabre at imaginary foes as I saved the galaxy, time and time again. My head was firmly in the stars and I devoured any sci-fi I could find, or watch; Battlestar Galactica, Flash Gordon and Doctor Who, to name but a few. But, even then, at my early age, I found myself wanting, sometimes, for the bad guys to win and I came to enjoy the villans just as much, if not more than the heroes. In my humble opinion, heroes are nothing without a great nemesis.
So how did I come to love fantasy so much? Why are my tales not fixed firmly in the stars? Perhaps one day, I may well re-visit my childhood days of battling aliens and visiting strange, unexplored galaxies. But, for now, my heart and my writing is devoted to the sometimes much-maligned genre of fantasy.
In the last few years of primary school, a friend of mine, Derren Richens, invited me back to his house after school, to play this new game he had. It was a book, where you could fight monsters and roll dice to decide the outcome, chosing your path through the narrative as you read. It was my first introduction to Fighting Fantasy and it was to change everything. My friend loaned me his copy of Caverns of the Snow Witch by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone and from then on, my imagination was captured, drawn inexorably to fantasy, myth and legends. From there, I began to read about Greek and Roman Mythology – eager to fuel my hungry imagination. It was not long, naturally, before I read The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R Tolkien. The door was opened and inspired by the fellowships’ adventures, I began to devour any fantasy book I could get my hands on. Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara was a great inspiration to me in my early years and it was from there, that I discovered the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game.
I could now Escape on adventures of my own, journey with comrades on wild quests, creating characters of my own. I would play the various incarnations of that game for the next two and a half decades, through my secondary school life and well into my thirties. As I and my friends grew into out late teens, I began to write stories of my own, some of them based on many of our games. My characters began to get in-depth background stories, as I fleshed out their back story and, although I did not do very well in my exams at school, I still had the ability to create enjoyable (if not well written or punctuated) stories that were liked by anyone who read them.
In the early 1990’s my influences and my imagination was to be forever changed. By then, I was still heavily into my fantasy reading, enjoying the likes of Raymond E Feist, RA Salvatore and anything that came out for the worlds of D&D. A friend of mine, Alan Findlay loaned me a copy of Knights of Dark Renown by David A Gemmell and I finally found the author that would inspire me to dream, to dare hope that one day I could tell heroic tales of my own.
In my opinion there has not been anyone better at telling exciting, dark tales of heroism, than David Gemmell. His style of writing, the pace of his novels and the amazing characters he created were unlike anything I had ever read before. From the Drenai tales, I would follow his writing career, right up to his unexpected and sad death in 2006. Since then, my reading has suffered greatly, unable to find another author that has captured my imagination, quickened my pulse so much. Because of this, I began to write my own tales and after hearing a conversation in a supermarket one day, a chat that I should not have overheard, the seeds of the idea for Whispers of a Storm were formed. It would go on to take me two years to write the first draft and a lot longer than that, to get it ready for publication, but had it not been for the people who have guided me on path, and ultimately for the friends I have mentioned, and most especially for David Gemmell, I would not be where I am today and I want to thank the afore-mentioned people for putting me on my path.