Writers get asked about their influences a lot. Readers and fellow writers want to know what helped make a certain creation come to life. Usually, answers include a compiled list of favourite and respected authors. Sometimes a notable book that offered inspiration years ago.
I’ve never been good at giving a list. I have too many favourite books. Too many favourite authors. And I read too widely for the list to make sense to anyone not privy to my mind (count yourself lucky). Besides, books I’ve read don’t actively enter my own stories. I’m not a meta writer. I’m sure if I delved deep enough I’d locate pieces of books that have stuck with me and influenced me over the course of my life. But that seems like a lot of work.
I’m more the type of artist that compiles inspiration for a piece. For instance, I have a high fantasy novel in the works sparked by a book I read called Sex with Kings. I’m now assembling a list of research books -fiction and non-fiction- which I hope will lend a hand as I create and populate my world. That’s how I get inspired, it’s a constant process as I start weaving the bits together.
The fabled muse is obviously not what I want to talk about today. As far as influences across the board go, I’d have to say my core principles are what stand out on the page. That’s what I’m going to label the following list as anyway. I can’t possibly give a detailed description of each and every principal I hold dear. So I’ll stick to the items that I actively try to transcribe in all of my work.
Women are human beings. This is a d’uh one. Yet funny enough it still needs to be said in this world we find ourselves a part of. I actively identify as a feminist and I do my damnedest to make that obvious in my writing. Gender relations are extremely important to me, as is the representation of women. Women want more out of life than a Stepford existence. They’re complex, multifaceted, and interesting. People learn from the media around them and I want to leave behind me positive examples of how men and women interact; and a real picture of the struggle women have had to face across feminism’s lifetime.
Consent. People think consent is a new concept. It’s not. It actually ties into the principal above. You see, in a world that doesn’t treat women like they’re human, consent becomes a moot point. That infuriates me. Consent is relevant. Consent is important. Consent is non-negotiable. Again, when it comes to gender relations and any kind of intimate or sexual relations, I intend to put consent front and centre.
History is full of ugly truths that must be faced. This one kind of explains itself. As someone with exclusively white, European ancestry, some days looking in the mirror can suck. A lot of the world’s bad history *cough imperialism cough colonialism cough* can easily be laid at the feet of Caucasian individuals. Not all of it, of course, but quite a bit in recent years. As awful as history can be, I acknowledge it. I want to learn from it and prevent horrific events from occurring again in any way that I can. Sweeping hard-to-digest truths under the rug is not the way to this. You have to meet the negative face to face.
Diversity matters. This is a new one for me because it never occurred to me -living my white, privileged existence- that there were kids and adults out there who were denied dreams and futures because of the colour of their skin. Still. Yes, I realize it’s impossible to be that naive, especially when you’re well aware of racism but there it is. My revelation came when I was researching for my honours project and came across a piece by an African-Canadian in which he stated he’d never before had a teacher ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He didn’t know he had options before one asked him. That, and reading items connected with Twitter’s hashtag #wndb that have forced the world to see that the majority of kids out there aren’t seeing themselves in major media and when/if they do their faces get erased, has forced me to open my eyes. I want to be part of the solution, not a problem.
That’s the short of it, these are four topics you will find time and again in my writing.