World's Oldest Fledgling

The blog of Stephanie Wardrop, Y A Author

Works (Not) Cited Part Two: Literary Influences on the WIP

on October 2, 2013

WIP It Wednesday continues (though sometimes I worry that I should put less time into the blog about the work in progress and more on the work in progress itself).  Last week I posted about the research I’ve done so far (and I just picked up two great tarot books to add to the collection). But this week I’ll focus on the literary works that have influenced the work so far. I’m sure I’m not accounting for all of them because the unconscious is tricky like that 🙂 but here’s a good-faith effort to present the influences:

Some paranormal/fantasy YA that hasn’t influenced the book directly, but must have, somehow:

Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. I have to admit that I was a somewhat reluctant reader of fantasy, based on what I’ve read before, but once I started these series, I was hooked. Clare creates such strong, varied characters and the relationships between them are so complex and engrossing that I tend to forget the magical stuff going on at times with these Shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, Nephilim, and all. While my book will never be as complex as this series, I think I’m working on my own version of the genre Clare has mastered: the (sub)urban fantasy. I guess I have portals of sorts in my WIP and I admire the way Clare sort of explained how they work, or, at least where they came from through the combined expertise of a scientist/inventor and warlock. And for the record, I am Team Simon, though things are working out nicely as far as I am concerned for Clace. I’ll let you know in May 2014 if I make it to the release of the final book  without gnashing my teeth to little nubs in anticipation.

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Jessica Spotswood’s Cahill Witch Chronicles.  My witches are different from Spotswood’s but I love what she has done with them, having them live in a somewhat recognizable past in which a religious right in charge has snuffed out witches and their practice – or so they think.  This feminist view of history and power makes the book especially appealing to me. Plus, I have a wild crush on Finn.  When I asked Spotswood via Twitter whether she would “give [him] a break” in the third and final installment, she tweeted that she would make me no promises. So , Dear Readers, I do not get results, but at least you know that I am out there in the trenches, fighting for you.

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I just finished April Genevieve Tucholke’s mesmerizing Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and while it’s not about witches, it certainly raises some intriguing questions about the nature and definition of evil. River has some formidable powers, and he’s (probably) not the Devil, but to what extent is he responsible for the havoc (murder, suicide, mayhem) he wreaks? And does Violet love him or hate him? How much of her love is the result of being taken in by River’s “glow”? Can you ever trust a guy with supernatural powers? I can’t wait to read the sequel and find out (I googled the date of the sequel as soon as I put down the book, too. Summer 2014).

DevilDeepBlueSea_FINAL_LR1 If my book turns out to be even 1/10 as good as these, I will be dancing from the rooftops of my town.

The YA novel that started this whole idea of a 400-year-old witch trapped in the body of a seventeen-year-old many years ago had to be Twilight.  I have to admit that I found the relationship between Bella and Edward more disturbing than enchanting. What I wanted to hear more about was what it was like to be stuck being a teenager forever. That idea entranced me, if only because if you had told me one day as I sat in high school, “This is it. This is where you will stay forever”, I would have run screaming down to the creek and tried to drown myself in it. I was captivated by the idea though Meyer did not explore much of the aching loneliness one would feel, fated to never grow older, to stay the same, in stasis, as everyone around you changed. I was intrigued by the logistics of how that would even work – how often would you have to move, exactly, from town to town before your neighbors noticed that you never, ever looked older.  Could you ever forge  relationship with anybody under those circumstances? I also, to be honest, wanted to present a view of love and sexuality that wasn’t as heavily weighted toward abstinence and the idea that the female is the threat to the male’s chastity and honor (go back and check some of the stuff Edward says to Bella about how she is the one threatening his control). That’s too sexist and last century for me.  But I’m not going to say anything more critical about Twilight because the world has done enough of that already. I’ll just say that despite my reservations expressed above, I wholeheartedly agree with agent Mary Kole’s assessment that the novel is, to paraphrase, 450-plus pages about longing. And that’s a pretty formidable thing.

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Non-YA influences

Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita gave me the idea of having a really creepy devilish guy who has had his hand in all the awful stuff that’s happened in history, from holocausts to revolutions to political assassinations to everyday persecutions.  And, if I were being truly honest here, I would have to give the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” some due credit because it’s based on the novel and I’ve heard that song a lot more than I’ve read Bulgakov’s book.  But you should, because it’s really good and because Daniel Radcliffe said he likes it, too. When Harry Potter endorses a book you go read it. I don’t have a big scary black cat in my book, though, because I live with one every day and I fear her wrath.

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Apparently Arthur Miller’s play has been used to torture New England high school students for years, but The Crucible is brilliant in presenting the witch hunt as metaphor. He was writing, of course, about the Salem Witch Trials on the surface but really about the HUAC/McCarthy trials of the 1950s and the insidious and very real ways in which a small group of frightened and bigoted people can turn a community into a lynch mob living in terror of being the next one accused. I present this idea in the book with a false murder accusation of a young man who looks like he’s up to no good and makes a very easy scapegoat for the religious right “Family First-ers” in my fictional town.  (I say fictional, but it’s based on a real place and the events are, unfortunately, not pure fiction).

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That’s a pretty long reading assignment, so I’ll stop now and let you get to your reading. Please tell me, in the comments or through Twitter or Facebook, any of the books you’ve loved and been influenced by, especially those dealing with magic, witches, or scapegoating.

Happy reading and writing, everyone!

What I’m re-reading:

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what I’m reading:

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What I’m listening to:

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