I was glad to see that so many people found my Writing Tips from yesterdays post to be useful. To pass the time for the next four hours as I travel by train to Ottawa, I decided to continue that train of thought (pun intended) by focusing on some of the places where some of the greatest novels were written, and what it was that inspired the ideas behind these literary masterpieces.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The witches and wizards we have all come to know and love came into being aboard a train traveling to London, England. I don’t thin it could have been written any other way. It only took about four hours on a train for the dark haired, bespectacled wizard to take shape, and the world that he was soon to be thrown into.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This fantasy series was an interesting one, as it was not only written during and following World War 2, but it wasn’t even written in the order that it was meant to be read. Many of the tales are a reflection of what took place in his own life, combined with his initial inspiration sparked by the illustrations, which were cobbled together before the series was given life.
The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
This twelve book series seems like like your average fantasy series, but there is actually more to it than that. This series was heavily influenced by the work of Ayn Rand, who took a more philosophical approach to her books. Goodkind was more or less intent on presenting certain human and philosophical themes in the guise of a fantasy adventure, exploring certain human dilemmas and emotional situations to give an in depth look into the human experience.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
This is yet another series that was written during the turmoil brought about during World War II, beginning with the newly rejuvenated The Hobbit. This is one of those series that has undergone extensive analysis, from the various themes to its many origins, all in the hopes to get inside the authors mind. The completion of his was slow going, since he was in the midst of his career as a university examiner. This just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what you end up doing in life; there is always time to write an epic tale. The Lord of the Rings portion of the series was written a few years later, the chapters of which were sent back and forth between himself and his son, Christopher, who at the time was away serving with the Royal Air Force.
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
This work is a classic, with a rich history of being both an amazing novel, and a mischief maker. H.G. Wells wrote this story in response to multiple historical events, resulting in a projected scenario of what would become of humanity if it were to fall prey to an alien race. The main event to spark the idea for this novel was actually in 1894, when Mars had fallen into a position in the sky where you could actually see it, which led to the speculation of the possibility of life existing on the surface of Mars. Wells has a history of making certain predictions in his writing, most of them revealing worst case scenario’s such as aerial bombings, gas warfare, advanced lazer-based weaponry, and even robots. Through his writing, Wells revealed a side of humanity that was not exactly positive, but which provoked deep philosophical discussions about human nature and how it reacts to threats of an unknown nature.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Only these two authors could take such a serious and complex concept and turn it into a comedy that is both entertaining and insightful. The idea of this story is that of the Four Horsemen – War, Famine, Pollution and Death – coming down to earth in order to pass judgement on the human race, and the attempts of and angel and a demon to stop this from happening, having become quite comfortable living among humans. All of this is coming to pass due to the birth of the Anti-Christ, or the son of Satan, who must decide between living a life of good or evil. You can see from the topic that this is a tale based, if only loosely, on different religious prophecies, revealed in a humorous fashion reminiscent of Monty Python. Gaiman and Pratchett had known each other for some time, and it seemed like a mutual agreement to set forth in making a collaborative novel, and they continuously swapped parts during the writing process so that they both contributed equally to all of the different characters.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Normally I wouldn’t bother giving mention to this series, but knowing that there exists a rather large following, it seemed only fair that I put my own feeling s about the series aside and give it some time in the spotlight. This was the first book Meyer had ever written, and it is essentially the embodiment of almost every girls’ fantasy; falling in love with a handsome, yet feared and misunderstood vampire. She claims that the main premise for the novel came to her in a dream, subconsciously witnessing the romantic tale of a vampire falling in love with a human, while at the same time trying not to kill her. It resembles the tale of Romeo and Juliet, the idea being that the romance is forbidden by both sides, and it ends up leading to a greater conflict than they initially thought. The concept of human and vampire romance is nothing new, if I learned anything from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Still, Meyer has started up the vampire craze all over again, both on paper and on the big screen.
These are only to name a few, but there are hundreds more authors who stumbled across an idea in all different manner’s of places, times and situations. Since I enjoyed doing this so much, I have now decided to start yet another weekly segment, with the intention of presenting a book every week which was written under unique or interesting circumstances, and also including where their inspiration came from.
As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, I would be most happy to read them from the comments below. Happy reading everyone!