Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Influences on Beast

Story has been part of my DNA from my earliest days. So perhaps it is no surprise that the work of other storytellers and writers have influenced me, both as a person and as a writer.

While I cannot begin to enumerate every story or author who has influenced me over the years, here are a few which have impacted the development of Beast. . .

Classic Children’s Picture Books  
I listened to a lot of picture books as a child, including the works of Dr. Seuss, Robert McCloskey, and Tomie dePaola. These stories encouraged my imagination and a love of reading. 

Dad’s Stories
Along with picture books, I listened to many stories which my dad made up. Through him and the storybooks read to me, I learned the cadence and pacing of story. But more than that, Dad’s stories are also the original source of my desire to write: One of my grand ambitions at age six was to grow up and write Dad’s stories down.

The Five Little Peppers, Miracle on Maple Hill, Blue Willow
These stories represent the multitude of novels that captured my heart as child. But a common thread through them all is a tale of someone lost being found or those displaced finding a home. So each of these contributed to the strong emotional touchstone which would form the heartbeat of Beast.

The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
As perhaps my favorite novel of all time, this classic rags-to-riches story provides the base for the aforementioned emotional touchstone. But more than that, it taught me the value of letting characters hurt in order to make the end even sweeter, for the end of A Little Princess just isn’t as poignant if her father didn’t really die.  

 The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
A Sunday school teacher read this novel to my first-grade class. It was my first taste of traditional Christian fantasy, the same basic genre to which Beast belongs.

The Fairy Tales by Grimm, Anderson, MacDonald, and Disney
I grew up on the classic fairy tales, and more significantly, their retellings by Disney. All of these contributed to the fairytale style of Beast, from the romanticized medieval setting to the happily-ever-after.
Arena by Karen Hancock
This novel introduced me to modern Christian science fiction and fantasy.

Firebird Trilogy by Kathy Tyers
Arena may have introduced me to modern Christian science fiction and fantasy, but it was Lady Firebird who made me fall in love with the genre. Through Firebird, I saw the possibilities of the genre, and I was taught how to balance story with spiritual threads. I would not be writing science fiction or fantasy today without the influence of this trilogy.
The End for Which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards
This essay deepened and broadened my understanding of God’s glory, which has impacted every area of my life, including how and about what I write.

Snow White
There is an old animated version of Snow White wherein Snow White hides from the huntsman in a tree and he mistakenly thinks a wild boar in the bushes is her. This scene provided direct inspiration for one of Beast’s escapes from the villain.

What the Deaf Man Heard
While I love this movie for a variety of reasons, it earned a place here because the opening scene, where the boy plays deaf, as it provided inspiration for Beast’s border crossing with Tracker.  

The Holy Bible
Without God’s Word, Beast would not be.

 It was from the truth of Scripture that Beast’s journey was conceived, and it was the truth of Scripture that gave purpose and meaning to the story. Many of the best and most powerful moments in Beast are rooted directly in some truth found in Scripture. Indeed, without the foundation of the Bible, Beast would be nothing more than a few pretty words strung together. 

Now It’s Your Turn!
I’m sure that I’m not the only one impacted by the books I’ve read or the movies I’ve seen. So which books and movies have impacted you—and why?


Sharon said...

I LOVED the Five Little Pepper books. :-)

Brenda S. Anderson said...

Behold a Pale Horse by Joe Musser - was given to me by my pastor for Christmas of 1975. Was my introduction to Christian fiction, and it created a hunger for more.

That was followed by the Danny Orlis series by Bernard Palmer. They were the Christian answer to the Hardy Boys.

Teen books by John Benton (popular in the 70's). They focused on tough subjects such as teen pregnancy, prostitution, mental illness, drugs, and more. I loved seeing how God worked through very messed up lives.

Jane Eyre (Bronte) and A Voice in the Wind (Francine Rivers) for their evocative portrayals of the atypical heroine.

The early Karen Kingsbury books for daring to deal with the messy lives and redemption.

Detect a theme here? :)

Chawna Schroeder said...

Sharon, did you read all 12 Pepper books? Most people don't know there are that many. . .

Yeah, I see the theme, Brenda. Isn't amazing how what we read reveals what the unique bents of our own hearts--what's important to us, what we desire?

Brenda S. Anderson said...

So true, Chawna. What we see - learn - appreciate about art in general says a lot about who we are and what we value. I believe that was built in to who we are when were created.