Friday, December 6, 2013

Writing BRASS STARS: Influences

As a human being, everything I bump into on a daily basis has some influence - good, bad, subtle, obvious. Every book I read, every movie I see, every song that trickles across the radio, even billboards and conversations overheard at the gas station, they all filter through into the dark sticky space of my creative subconscious.

But some things have a more direct influence.

As a kid there was one brief year when we had cable, and I used to watch reruns of Bonanza, Big Valley, Gunsmoke and The Rifleman on Saturday mornings. (This was back in the days when The Family Channel was cool.) Then in the evening I would watch gems like The Avengers, Star Trek and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. At the time I had no plans to write a story that would combine both Science Fiction and Western, but looking back it's clear where the seeds of Brass Stars were planted.

Of course, Brass Stars is not as bright and happy as the westerns I watched when I was young. Maybe because in college I discovered a director named Sergio Leone and actors named Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Charles Bronson. Then I discovered a related genre - the samurai film - and the brilliance of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune.

I also discovered SF like Pitch Black and Alien, where the heroes are not always who you think and the ending may twist your expectations so hard you get whiplash.

The specifics get hard to pin down. I see a little bit of Last Man Standing (a retelling of Yojimbo set in a border town in the 1920s), a little bit of The Quick and The Dead, even a little bit of that horrible movie about Mars with Val Kilmer in it.

But that's how influences work. They seep into the deep parts of your brain and come back out colored by your own experience and belief and perspective.

There's more coming every day.

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