In The Style Of

In The Style Of

Something I like to do when I’m writing is think of which authors influenced the book in question.

I’m not the sort of person who thinks that everything I write is totally original. Everything I write was inspired by something else.

Watching, for example – I describe it to potential readers as ‘Holly Black meets Maggie Stiefvater meets Kate Thompson’. More specifically, it’s ‘Tithe meets Ballad meets The New Policeman’, and anyone here who has read those three books will know instantly that Watching must therefore be about fairies, since that’s what they have in common.

It is about fairies. It has the otherworldly aspect of The New Policeman, and the use of mythological figures such as the Dagda and the phouka/púka/pooka. It has the condemned fairy lover aspect of Ballad (and also the sarcastic and bitter narrator that is my character Alex). It has the evil fairies and the torture of Tithe. It probably wouldn’t come with a ‘parental advisory – adult content’ as the copy of Tithe I first read did, but I’m not convinced that was for the torture.

Some things, I struggle to see exactly where my influences came from. The Quiet Ones, a story about modern-day knights, isn’t directly influenced by any one author. It’s probably the most original thing I’ve ever written. Stylistically, it has some influences, but again they’re from a wide pool of my reading material at the time, not a single genre. No one has read that yet, so I can’t ask anyone for any influences they picked up on. It could be an interesting experiment.

My current WIP, though, which I’m writing for Camp NaNoWriMo, is almost certainly a Tom Holt novel written in the style of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

It didn’t start out that way. Its current title is That Was The Bus because it’s supposed to be a book about just missing things, about the jokes you don’t quite get, about the things you don’t quite see. I was hoping it would be a wonderfully confusing novel about parallel worlds and stories. Here’s my blurb from my Camp NaNoWriMo profile:

Every story is real somewhere.
Everything you write is happening. Everything lie you tell is happening. Every single thing is happening.
But those are different worlds, so no one ever knows. No writer realises that the characters they tortured in their sick, sadistic way were actually real.
Only now the worlds are leaking into each other.
Now fiction and reality are beginning to mix.
But what’s fiction, and what’s reality?
And if everyone you meet is someone from a story, who are you? A character, or a writer?
Or both?

Yeah. That didn’t exactly happen.

From single paragraphs [“She’s a medium. (Actually, she’s a large, but she doesn’t tell anyone that. However, in her professional life, she’s a medium. You know, an occultist. Someone who talks to the dead.)”] to entire scenes, the thing has got progressively weirder and progressively less like a serious novel and more like a NaNo novel where the only thing to do when wordcount is not coming is to add ninjas.

Which I have already done.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this any more. I’m just to stubborn to stop, I think.

But that doesn’t change the fact that this exists:

“It certainly feels like the end of the world,” she says.
“Maybe that’s the wrong phrase to use,” suggests her companion. “I mean, yeah, it’s probably the end of this world, unless we can stop it. But it’s not just Earth that’s suffering. Everyone is leaking through to everywhere. You’ll have Imperial stormtroopers marching through Mordor by this evening, and I think Winterfell’s under the control of Loki. The Marvel one, not the mythology one, thank goodness. We’d be really screwed then. I think Iron Man’s going to fight him for it. The whole Stark in Winterfell thing, you know. But anyway, if it’s the end of anything, it’s the end of all the worlds. It’s the end of reality and fantasy. It’s the end of the universe. If it makes you feel any better, I think the Narnians are mobilising against Captain Hook.”
“Why would that make me feel better?”
“Well, it’s an amusing image, to say the least.”
“Not what I need right now, actually.”
“So you don’t want to hear where Spock is?”
Robyn’s read a lot of books and seen a lot of movies, so she’s keeping up, but her mind is threatening to shut down. She’s got a headache coming on. “No. I don’t. Can you be quiet? I need to check my emails.”

Oh, and the character who isn’t Robyn? The one going on about the end of the world?

That’s a púka. A shapeshifting beastie out of Celtic mythology. Sitting there wisecracking the whole time in a way seriously reminiscent of Paul in that movie, Paul. Great title. Anyway.

That’s what happened.

Tom Holt written in the style of Good Omens.

Thank you very much. I’m here all week.

10 thoughts on “In The Style Of

  1. “I think the Narnians are mobilizing against Captain Hook”. ….words fail to express how I love that line. That, and the one right before it about Tony Stark in Winterfell, and the one before that about Imperial Stormtroopers in Mordor. (not that I’d imagine they’d be much help to Sauron, what with their poor accuracy and all.) if you get your WIP published, I want to read it.

  2. This book sounds like so much fun! I still snort stupidly over the Iron Man vs Loki in Winterfell idea. And the Narnians and Captain Hook . . . priceless.

    Oh, you could make it a running joke in the story that no one ever wants to know where Spock is too! Just a brain bunny for you.

    This sounds so utterly hilarious. I hope you let me read it sometime! xD

    1. Generally no one listens to the púka ever.
      Last line of the book will probably be: “But I wanted to tell you where Spock was!” And then he vanishes back to his own world.

  3. Okay so apparently WordPress doen’s like me anymore. I thought I commented. :P to wordpress

    So I’m with Charley, I want to read this story! After all I do believe that we are mearly retelling things that have happened even in what we consider fiction. Perhaps we embellish a little to make it all more interesting (like any good Bard would) – makes me wonder if there are any cool tales about me out there. *grins*

    And I do want to know where Spock is – but it would be hilarious if we found him talking philosophy with Lenard Nemoy over tea – or at least have him appear to that actor and say Live Long and Prosper. *girns*

  4. That excerpt is a stroke of pure genius. I love it! The whole wisecracking commentary thing reminds me a bit of Bartimaeus from the trilogy by Jonathan Strange.
    As far as taking inspiration from other books goes, I think everyone does it, but not everyone is willing to compare their work to that of others. I like such comparisons, personally; in fact, the other day I was describing the novel I’m thinking about for NaNoWriMo to my mom as “The Graveyard Book meets Ghostgirl meets City of Bones.”

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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