Where it all began…

Hi, just a quick introduction: my name is Jack, and I like to write. I’m not sure much more elaboration is required, but as an exercise in creativity, I’ve decided to write a short blog series about the history of my influences and inspiration, as best I can remember them.

I’ve been interested in creative writing since the age of about 8, when I first began to write stories as part of my English classes. My specific interests quickly led in the direction of epic fantasy, shortly after I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. When the films started to come out in 2001, it sparked my imagination further still, but I think I was aged 13 before I read The Silmarillion, which spurred me to attempt my first ‘extended story’.

Aged 13 me thought  that stretching a story to about 5,000 words was difficult enough. I forget exactly what its premise was, but I think the vast majority of the 5,000 words were taken up by long, convoluted, and badly-written fight scenes. I’m not sure I even gave the story a title, it was just sort of scribbled out onto 20-something journal pages.

Over the next few years I played around with a few ideas, but did not really write anything down. It was in this time that I read The Wheel of Time series which, while complicated, introduced me to writing about a wide range of diverse cultures, while giving them each a distinct flavour. What I particularly enjoyed were the sequences where god-like power was displayed, if only in short bursts, and The Wheel of Time introduced me to the concept of flawed protagonists perhaps more so than The Lord of the Rings; the idea that great power must be tempered with some major flaw (as with Rand’s insanity).

The creative writing involved in my schoolwork was forced to adhere to fairly strict guidelines, so there was no real outlet for any ideas. Busy as I was with various sets of exams, I did not really have much time to write, meaning that it was years until I attempted a longer story again.

My next serious attempt came immediately after my A-level exams, aged 18. While revising in the spring, I had caught an  episode of what had then been the first season of Game of Thrones. I ended up watching the entire series over the course of the next weeks, despite the important set of exams, so gripped was I by the adaptation. At that point I had not read the books, and over the summer I instead ended up reading my way through Steven Erikson’s Malazan: Book of the Fallen, and working 9-hour shifts at my local stable-yard for 6 days a week.

It was around this time that I ended up thinking seriously about writing a novel. The idea started simply, with the names of two cultures at war: the Ethernath and the Laternae. The Ethernath were to be based upon the Mongols, having recently read Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror series, while the Laternae would essentially be ruled by the ‘Lancer Corps’. At such an early point in the summer, that was all I had developed – there weren’t even any specific characters.  

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