Writing Corner: On My Writing Inspirations and How They Have Changed Over The Years

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while, my first post of these was kind of just to test the waters and see whether it would be worth continuing this series. This year however, I’m hoping to expand this feature even more, to have an outlet to talk about my own writing and also hopefully share writing and writing stories from other writers in the community.

Today’s topic is inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter. I was talking to someone about my favourite books and one of the examples I gave was A Darker Shade of Magic, and I said that when I was younger, my writing inspiration was JK Rowling but right now I said my writing inspiration was VE Schwab. This got me thinking about how I’ve changed as a writer and how my inspirations have changed as I’ve grown up and become more serious and dedicated to my authorial pursuits.

The writing bug was first ignited in me when I read Harry Potter for the first time as a kid. I was so enthralled by the magic and the sense of wonder I got from reading those books and I was determined that when I was older, I was going to be exactly like JK Rowling. I mean we even had the same first name, to my young brain, it seemed perfectly natural that one day I could be like the woman who wrote these stories that I loved so much.

Now obviously, my expectations have grown more realistic as I’ve got older. I know, that realistically, I’m highly unlikely to sell a story that becomes a global and cultural phenomenon. But that initial desire, to write a story that captivates people, that touches people and gives them a sense of wonder and hope and inspiration, that hasn’t gone away.

But the kind of story that is has changed a lot over the years. I’ve tried my hand at writing a lot of different things, zany playscripts, a Cluedo style murder mystery, a Thirteen Reasons Why type contemporary, a secret agent type story involving bears as spies, all sorts of things. However I actually wrote very little, if any fantasy to start off with, despite that being the genre that I loved the most from a very young age. It’s only really in the last few years that I’ve started writing my own fantasies and I think the reason is the authors I’ve been reading. When I was younger, I only really had Harry Potter as a fantasy inspiration, but there have been so many amazing fantasies brought out as I’ve been growing up and I’ve had such a wealth of amazing writers to choose from and so what I’ve written has changed to reflect that.

In terms of writing style, I would say my biggest inspirations are Derek Landy and Rick Riordan, which is unsurprising, considering those two writers series’ were my biggest obsessions during my teen years, it stands to reason that when writing YA, the writers I was obsessed with in my teens have really influenced me. The snappy dialogue and the sarcastic humour were massive draws for me, but also the fact that their writing is fun and engaging and it has a really strong voice, and that’s always been the sort of thing that I love. So naturally, I have tried to incorporate that into my own writing (in my own way of course), because I want to write the things that I love to read. I could try being more descriptive, more flowery, but that’s never been me, and I don’t think it will ever be my characters either. In terms of my books, I want all of them to have some sense of me in them, that only I could have written them and that’s something I’ve got from my favourite authors I think, that no matter what they write, there’s an underlying sense of their personality, their soul, in each of their books.

Victoria Schwab is probably one of my biggest writing inspirations right now, I love how inventive and creative she is, how no two of her books are the same, but like I said above, you can tell they were all written by her because there is this underlying sense of her personality running through all of her books. I was actually talking to a friend, explaining Underground Magicians (having recently told her about the Shades of Magic books) and she was like “oh that sounds like those books you were telling me about!”, which was totally unintentional, but I think it just goes to show how much she has influenced me and my writing. Lila Bard was definitely a huge inspiration for Tiffany in TINALS, not so much Sophie in Underground Magicians, but one of the things I’ve definitely taken from Victoria’s writing is how to write an awesome female MC. The elemental magic system in TINALS was partially inspired by the magic in ADSOM, but also from Skulduggery Pleasant, and various other books that have used that kind of magic. However, much like with JK Rowling, it isn’t necessarily aspects of her writing that have inspired me the most, it’s the feeling that I get from reading her work. Her fantasies are these amazing, totally immersive adventures, and I want my readers to feel like that if I ever actually get a book out into the world. Like they just want to sit there and dive into this world and not come out again until the story is over. I also love how honest Victoria Schwab is about her writing and the difficulties she has with it, it makes me feel a whole lot better on days when I want to bang my head against a wall because a plot point just won’t work!

One of my inspirations for Underground Magicians is one that I didn’t even realise until today, Sophie McKenzie’s The Medusa Project. One of the coolest things about that book (though it’s not a fantasy as such), is that all of the characters have very different psychic powers and it’s something I’ve taken into Underground Magicians, as all of the characters have very different magic powers and it’s not based on one specific system, like the elements in TINALS. I also think the relatively fast pace of my writing is something that I got from reading a lot of Sophie McKenzie when I was younger, she always wrote really snappy, sharp, engaging plots and that’s something that I hope comes across in my work as well!

Sarah J Maas has also been a massive inspiration for me in recent years. You can say whatever you like about the problematic elements to her books, and there are many, I’m not saying I aspire to those, but she has been writing since she was a teen and managed to get a story that she wrote in its first iteration at 16 published, and that to me, as a young writer is really inspiring. Celaena was also definitely a huge influence in the character of Tiffany in TINALS, I loved seeing a character who wasn’t necessarily always the most likeable, but she was determined and feisty and went after what she wanted and has a bit of a flair for the dramatic! She also writes really great female friendships and that’s something that is massively important to me in my own books.

Everything I’ve read has in some way contributed to the writer I am today, but there are certain authors, like the ones I’ve mentioned in this post today, who have a special place in my heart, whose writing I have connected with on such a deep level that you can see their influences in what I write myself. My ideal is that one day, what I write will be published and I’ll be able to influence a younger generation of writers in the same way that these authors have influenced me!

So over to you? What authors have influenced your writing? Have your writing inspirations changed as you’ve grown up? Let me know in the comments!

I don’t know when I’ll next be doing one of these, I’m hoping for maybe once a month, but it will depend on when I have time to sit down and write! I’m really hoping to get other writers to contribute to this feature, so if you’re a writer and you’re interested in being featured on my blog, then holler at me on Twitter, I’m @iloveheartlandX. I have a few people who’ve already noted interested and no, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been busy!

My next new post will be my newest TTT on Tuesday, but I will also have a very special post next week celebrating four years of blogging (FOUR! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?), so stay tuned for that!




Writing Corner: My Writing Journey So Far

Hi everyone! So I’m testing out a new feature here on the blog, I don’t know how often I’m going to do this one, it might just be whenever I have time (so during breaks from Uni basically) but we’ll see, if you guys like it, I could try to make it a more regular thing. Basically. I wanted to have a space to talk about writing as I am a writer as well as a reader, so I thought it would be nice to have a space to talk about that on the blog. I’m unsure as to exactly what form this feature will take as of yet, but I’m open to suggestions, so if there is anything writing related you want me to talk about, then please let me know. I’m definitely hoping to share some of my own writing at some point, but I would also love to get to showcase other writers from the community as well, so if you’d like to feature in a guest post talking about your writing, then let me know.

Today’s post is kind of an introductory post, as the title suggests I’m going to talk a little bit about me as a writer, what I write, how I got into writing, that sort of thing, so bear with me, it’s going to be quite a personal post today (a rarity for me!).

I’ve been writing, on and off, since I was about 7 or 8 years old. I have always been a reader, but my writing aspirations, I’m guessing like quite a few other people’s began with Harry Potter. I had read and loved a lot of books before Harry Potter, but it was that series that really showed me the magic (pardon the pun) of reading. I wanted to be able to create that sense of wonder and joy for someone that JK Rowling had given me. When I was a kid, I didn’t just say I wanted to be an author, I said I wanted to be JK Rowling. Now obviously my aspirations have lowered a little since then, I know that realistically, JK Rowling is a one in a million and I probably won’t be as successful as her, but the idea is still the same. I want to be able to inspire people in the same way that she inspired me.

When I was younger, I wrote a little bit of everything, it wasn’t just fiction, I did poetry, playscripts, various other things, mostly to give to my Nana for birthdays or Christmas. She always loved them, but looking back objectively, they weren’t all that good! Still I would take any opportunity I could to write anything and everything! I remember once having to do the story of a water cycle in science class in primary school, it remains one of my favourite things I ever got to do at school.

Then for a little bit, my writing kind of dropped off. This was when I was in the first few years of secondary school, I only really wrote when it was for assignments for English class and I don’t really remember doing much writing for fun. For various reasons, the first few years of secondary school weren’t great for me, I’m not going to get into them here, but I don’t remember writing as much at that time as I did when I was younger and I think my difficult school situation was probably part of that.

But then when I was 14, I changed schools. I made friends, great friends, some of whom are still amongst my best friends today. I did creative writing as an extra curricular and that was great in helping me rediscover my passion for writing, although a lot of what I wrote was a bit silly (I wrote a play about drug addicted aliens taking over the Earth), it was a lot of fun. And a few years later I discovered FanFiction. I know there are some people who look down on FanFiction, but for me, it was a great creative outlet. I could start with existing characters and then make them my own. I’ve kind of dropped off fanfic now, as I’ve got into writing my own stuff, but I’m still really proud of what I did on there. It got me used to writing regularly again and was a great gateway into writing stuff that is purely my own. I wrote fanfiction through my last few years of secondary school and throughout sixth form.

In sixth form, I started writing for my school newspaper and created this blog. This was when I first started thinking about journalism as a career, so aside from my fanfic, I wasn’t really doing creative writing so much as I was focusing my writing towards that future career goal. Personally, I think all of this was good though, anything that flexes your writing muscles, be it fiction, news, blogging, essays, it all adds to your experience and helps to make you a better writer. Creating this blog will always be one of the best things I’ve done as a writer, it gives me a constant creative outlet and allows me to combine my two passions, reading and writing.

Then we arrive at today, the Uni years, where for the first time since I was at school, I have been writing fiction again. The difference is that now, I am writing proper full length novels, not the fanfic or short stories or news that I was writing when I was still at school. It took me a while to find the right idea, one that I was really excited about, but last year, I wrote the first draft of my YA Fantasy novel This Is Not A Love Story. I don’t know if it will ever get published, and I know it’s going to be a long time before it’s even remotely ready to be seen by anyone in the industry, but even if it never sees the light of day, it will always be special to me as the first full length fantasy I’ve written, certainly the first one that’s any good. I’ve also just started my second YA fantasy, another standalone (well at least at the moment, I haven’t planned for any sequels yet), which is set in underground tunnels in Paris.

I’m still working through editing TINALS, which is a lot harder than writing the darn thing let me tell you. Seriously, if anyone has any tips for a young writer trying to edit for the first time then please let me know! I’m also hoping to do NaNoWriMo again this year to try and get Underground Magicians (working title) finished, so hit me up if you’re doing it and looking for a writing partner. The last year or so has been great for me, writing wise, since I have joined Creative Writing at Uni and have two friends who are also writers, it has really inspired me, and I’m hoping that it continues throughout my time at Uni. My ultimate goal is still to one day get my work published, whether that be the stories I am working on now, or something else I do in the future.

So that’s me and the story of my writing! Hopefully it’s one that will continue for a long time to come. How did you guys get into writing? Have you been dipping in and out through the years like I have? What are you working on now? Would anyone be interested in sharing their writing/agent/publication stories in this feature? Also what would you like to see in this feature in the future?  Let me know in the comments!

I’m heading back up to Uni on Sunday, so this will probably be the end of my splurge of blog content! I might do some tag/award post catch ups tomorrow, but we’re moving house and I’ve got a lot of packing still left to do, so I make no promises! But if you don’t hear from me over the weekend, I will, as I always am, be back on Tuesday with another Top Ten Tuesday post.