In a quest to explore some of the things that have influenced me as a writer over the years–things other than books–I have decided to do a series of posts on some of those influences.
Books are only part of the story when it comes to the things that have influenced me as a writer over the years, especially in my younger years. I find that most of my influences came about in my teens and twenties. Back then, I was heavily influenced by a lot of things, and many of those things are responsible for not only the type of person I am today (I’m a loathsome individual, you wouldn’t want to know me…I eat babies and kill old ladies just because they annoy me…not really, I love babies and old ladies…except when they annoy me…then I want to kill them :)) but also the kind of writer that I am.
These days, I don’t have what you would call too many influences, and the ones I do have are carefully selected. I’m very mindful of my influences now, which is why I don’t have a TV or read newspapers anymore, or indeed tolerate negative people in my life (full run down on that in this post that I wrote for my combatives blog: How To Deal With Negative Bastards).
The older I’ve gotten, the more important it is for me to go my own way, to stand on my own two feet, and not get too sucked into someone else’s way of doing things. As a writer especially, I am careful not to let anything dilute my work or my voice. It has to be all me, otherwise, what is the point?
It’s hard to be original or unique when you have the weight of so many influences on you.
Of course, it would be silly of me to claim that I’m not influenced at all. No one is not influenced by something or other. In terms of the genre I write in, I have lots of influences, although I prefer to think of them more as sources of inspiration, rather than direct influences.
But I digress. I’m supposed to be talking about some of things that have most influenced me as a creative person, and as a writer. Maybe not directly, but they have shaped the kind of creative mind that I have, and thus my eventual creative output.
So let’s start with Iron Maiden.
The Greatest Metal Band Of All Time
I started listening to rock and metal as a kid, getting into it more seriously in my teens. For years, music was my life. Metal was my life for most of my teens. I just couldn’t get enough of it. It helped me through some very tough times growing up, and continues to help me through tough times to this day.
Loud metal music is cathartic to me. That’s about as intellectual as I’m going to get on that. Heavy metal cannot be intellectualized. Either you get it or you don’t. Either you love it or you hate it. It’s that simple.
Obviously there is a large fantasy element to metal music, and it shares a close relationship with the horror genre as well. Given that, it was pretty inevitable that I would end up writing in a similar genre. If not straight out horror, then in dark and urban fantasy.
Iron Maiden have a bigger fantasy element than most in their music, and they were one of the first real metal bands that I first got into way back when.
Almost all of Maiden’s songs are like short stories put to music, especially in their first six or seven albums. Steve Harris, the bass player and founder of the band, wrote most of the lyrics on those albums, and with every song, he tried to tell a story. It was that element of story telling that really got me into Iron Maiden, that and the oh so awesome music obviously.
Maiden are also a band that have always been streets ahead of their peers, not only musically, but also in terms of marketing as well. They were one of the first bands to adopt a mascot, in the form Eddie, the monster you see on all their album covers and merchandising. Eddie has made Maiden one of the most recognizable music brands in the world, and has helped make the band millions in merchandising, as well as millions in units sold.
In that sense, Maiden have done what so many writers are trying to do today, with branded book covers and recognizable logos. An indie author could learn a lot from looking into Iron Maiden and how they approach their marketing.
Maiden also has one of the biggest and most loyal fan bases in the world, simply because they consistently deliver to fans what they want, and they do it on a regular basis. Even if they have no new music to put out, they will release compilation albums, concert DVD’s and even a movie.
They know the value and importance of putting out regular content so people never forget they are there. A lesson every indie writer needs to have branded on their forehead.
There is also no place in the world they will not travel to play for fans, and indeed they even have their own Boeing 747 to fly to those places. Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer, fly’s it himself! Is there no end to how awesome these guys are?
Not if you are Bruce Dickinson. Check out some of this mans achievements. You have my permission to feel wholly inadequate afterwards.
Iron Maiden fucking rock, pure and simple.
To prove it, check out their new single:
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Like I say, Maiden still rock. Up the irons!