10 Writers That Have Influenced Me

I started back to work on a writing project that I haven’t been able to touch for months. The project, called Earning My Ears, is an auto-biographical account of my time working and living in Walt Disney World. While it is written very much in the vein of my comedic voice, the style of writing is very unusual for me. truthfully, I don’t really have a particular style. I’m sort of all over the place. And that got me to thinking about the writers who have influenced me. So I thought I would make a list. These are all my influences, from various different genres. Bare in mind that these people influenced my writing.

10. S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders was the first novel I ever read. It’s probably the only book from those school summer reading lists that I actually liked. It was amazing. A whole universe became real to me through the written word. I could see them in my head, feel their actions, empathize with their plights. I loved it so much that I read the sequel, That Was Then, This Is Now.

read: The Outsiders; That Was Then, This Is Now (duh!)

9. Peter David

Comic books are probably the biggest influence on my life. So much of who I am and what I know is based entirely on them. As such, the writers are ultimately my fathers in many ways. Peter David is one of the prolific writers I ever heard of. There were many times when he was writing 6 books every month, in addition to his history of writing and producing television series. But what he gave me most was the understanding that books and life can be funny. His sense of humor permeates everything he writes, but it isn’t heavy handed like a sitcom, nor introduced as a comedy bit.

read: anything from his fifteen years writing The Incredible Hulk (especially the Pantheon years); current reads: X-Factor, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born

8. Eddie Murphy

Ever wonder where I got my filthy fucking mouth from? Like many kids I wanted to be Eddie Murphy growing up. He was THE comedian of my youth. And my blue sense of humor is totally his fault.

see: Raw; Beverly Hills Cop 2; Coming to America; old episodes of Saturday Night Live

7. Allen Ginsberg

He was in my 10 Corpses blog last week. What is there left to say about him? My poetry became more ephemeral after reading his work. It didn’t all have to be organized or clear. Writing could be hazy, colorful and chaotic.

read: Howl

6. Chris Claremont

Like all legends, Claremont is still working and has overstayed his welcome. I shudder to think of some little kid reading him on Exiles and thinking “This guy sucks!” He does… now. But at one point he was the greatest writer in the history of comics. (That may be an exaggeration.) Stan Lee created the X-Men. Claremont defined them. Nearly every writer since has done some sort of riff on his work. And not just in comics! The Days of Future Past story has been done to death in every major medium. The season 1 episode of Heroes, Five Years Gone? Claremont homage, baby!

read: anything X-Men from the 1980’s- 1993(?) , particularly Days of Future Past

5. Joss Whedon

This guy is the Elvis Presley of writers. I looooooooved Buffy the Vampire Slayer! (The show, anyway.) Joss should be worshiped as a God if only for the act of getting Eliza Dushku in leather pants during fight scenes. But it was Firefly, his short lived space show turned cult favorite, turned film (Serenity) that changed my world. You see, I have this idea for a series of books that started when I was ten years old as a Claremont/ X-Men rip off. It evolved from that slowly. But it was Firefly that changed my whole vision of it. Firefly is one of the greatest television shows ever.

see: Firefly, Buffy, Angel read: Astonishing X-Men tpb. vol 1-4; Buffy Season 8

4. Stephen Wright

One of the unsung heroes of comedy. This guy is either a certifiable genius or a certifiable nut case. It is possible he is both. His comedy showed me that jokes can be free form and random. Like Ginsberg’s poetry, it lacks any structure or organization, but is genius in every way. Someone once told me out of the blue that my sense of humor reminded him of Wright. I damn near cried.

3. Dylan Thomas

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. Nuff said.

2. Kevin Smith

His stories are both personal, mature, and yet wholly child-like and vulgar. he showed me that the kind of writing I like to do can work, and guys like us can succeed against all odds.

1. J. Michael Straczynski.

I’ve been watching the shows he writes since I was 8 years old, even without knowing it. He-Man. The Real Ghost Busters. Other things I can’t remember. But Babylon 5, his seminal work, changed my world. It is the most complex, character driven story ever put on television. Each and every character has an arc across the 5 seasons that the show was produced. They were portrayed as real people, whose experiences and hardships fundamentally change them as they go through life. Some for the better, some for the worse.

I still want to be Anla’Shok.

see: Babylon 5 read: Amazing Spider-man recent trade paperbacks (recommend John Romita Jr issues.)

Honorable mention: Robert Plant, Tori Amos, George Lucas, Alfred Tennyson, Fabian Niceiza, Willie Nelson

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