The other day I was thinking about how my writing influences have changed over the years. My current influences — the works of Makoto Shinkai, the novels of Haruki Murakami, numerous YA authors like Rachel Hartman, Susan Dennard and AM Dellamonica, and genre authors like Yoon Ha Lee, Ann Leckie and Becky Chambers — are quite different from the influences I had about twenty years ago when I was first writing the trilogy.
In addition to that, some of my old influences don’t seem to inspire me all that much anymore. I find that particularly interesting. It’s not to say their works haven’t stood the test of time; it’s more that what amazed me about them doesn’t seem to catch my eye now. I’ve moved on to other styles and stories.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s partly due to the way time moves on. What was breathtaking to me then seems a bit old hat now. It could be caused by oversaturation — after all, Hollywood is certainly known for making a eight hundred different flavors of the same Explodey Action Film, right? Or it could be overindulgence — I stopped reading dark fantasy and cyberpunk a long time ago when it just didn’t excite me anymore.
But there’s always that one thing, the make-you-stop-in-your-tracks book or film that changes the game completely. The Matrix is definitely one good example. Your Name is another one (for me anyway). Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Ann Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy are also very good examples.
That seems to be the only constant for me over all these years; the books and films that don’t just blow me away but make me rethink my own writing processes. These are stories that are told, maybe not from a fresh or unique perspective, but are so different from the status quo, that it reminds me: you don’t have to play by the rules, you know. They’re stories, like Your Name, that are so intricately woven with life (yet done so unobtrusively) that I’m emotionally and spiritually moved by the level of detail put into the work.
This constant is what influences my writing the most.
And the amazing thing about all of this is that, maybe five or so years from now, my influences will have evolved even more by something that hasn’t even been written or filmed yet. Something will pop up that will make me rethink the whole game all over again.
I have to admit, I’m looking forward to that.