"Inspiration of an Author" (OR, "How Literature Has Impacted or Inspired Me in My Life")
By Andrew R. Simmert
When I look back on how I decided to become an author, I must really begin with how my imagination got as big as it is. I grew up very introverted, I had only one person I could say was really my friend, and my only regular contact with him was at church. Since I was so quiet, I naturally gravitated toward things that people like that tend to enjoy, namely, books and other things like that. For me, I also had a fixation on video games. These fixations, which I would later discover stemmed from the fact that I have Asperger’s syndrome, have served as my primary sources of inspiration. They also provided an outlet through which I could escape from the loneliness and boredom I experienced, (and still experience to a much lesser degree), while growing up. Imagination was my solace, my sanctuary, my method of coping with the mindless pointless boredom of reality. It was where I was cool, and awesome, where everyone liked me, and I liked everyone. As I read and played, my horizons of imagination grew. But as I read, it became increasingly obvious that I could not be content simply lurking in the worlds I saw. I had to make one of my own.
It started when I was in 7th grade (2003-2004). In that year, the game “NEW Super Mario Bros.” was released for the Nintendo DS. In that game, one of the power-ups available for Mario or Luigi to use is a blue Koopa shell. When it is being used, the power-up gives Mario or Luigi a turtle shell; which, when they get a running start, allows them to retract themselves into the shell and slide along the ground for a period of time. To a lesser extent of inspiration, it also makes them incredibly versatile swimmers as well.
Anyways, this power-up gave me a thought, ‘What if Humans had evolved from turtles instead of monkeys?’ My mind began to work on this idea for over three months before I was finally able to work up the courage to write it down. My initial concept evolved into a fictitious battle, in which an army of these Turtle-people had stopped an “Alexander-the-Great”-style conqueror. This was my stepping off point that started my desire to become an author.
I quickly decided that this new world I had made would be of the Sword and Sorcery/High Fantasy setting. High Fantasy is and has been my favorite genre ever since my Mother first read J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” to me when I was five. As I wrote, my world grew accordingly. I added Dwarves, magic wielding mages, mace and sword slinging Paladins, fire and ice breathing Dragons, and Merfolk.
Unfortunately, my creativity waned after I had made the various races, and it wasn’t until my 16th birthday three years after that I actually made use of my ideas. In the year between my 15th and 16th birthdays, I encountered the Final Fantasy series of RPG’s. This series, or more specifically, numbers 1,2, 4, and 6, lit a spark that enabled me to work out and solidify the laws and rules by which Magic could and couldn’t be used in my world.
Though I have neglected to mention it thus far, there were two games that firmly established what my conception of a mage should be. And those were the two “Golden Sun” games, for the Game Boy Advance. These games involve a group of people who wield control over the four classical elements, earth air, fire and water. Their power, (Or ‘Psynergy’ short for ‘Psychic Energy’), comes from the ancient power of Alchemy; which had all but vanished from the world due to the near-sighted actions of a few wise men, who sealed the power of Alchemy away to prevent further bloodshed over the control of the Philosopher’s Stone.
Anyway, four of the main characters come from a village of “Adepts” which is stationed at the foot of a volcano long thought to be extinct. This village, called “Vale” is, to the outside world, a relatively unremarkable little hamlet. In secret, however, the villagers are all adapts, a secret they share with no one from the outside world.
The concept of a secret village of Mages, squirreled away and left well enough alone by the outside world was one that I had not encountered before. It wasn’t until I played Final Fantasy 6 two years later that I found out that the concept is rather common to RPG’s. Nevertheless, I decided that my main character would have to be a mage, from a mage village. Incidentally, I also got the name of my first main character from “Golden Sun”. One of the minor antagonists, who ends up being a major antagonist at the climax of the second game, is a Water Adapt named Alex. I still don’t know why, but I decided to name my hero character Alex after him.
Not just Videogames, but written fiction, also served to inspire me. The Aforementioned Hobbit and Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” have served my immensely, lately, I have begun reading George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” series, (Otherwise known as the “Game of Thrones” series) those have also helped me.
I also draw inspiration from certain Anime. Among the various animes there are I have three in particular that I want to single out: The ‘Dragon Ball’ series, Fullmetal Alchemist, and the “Sailor Moon” series.
Dragon Ball/Z/GT served as a stepping off point for how lesser magic was used in practical settings. Fullmetal Alchemist, as the name implies, has the practice of Alchemy as a major plot point. It was from here that I got the idea to have Alchemy itself in my plot, instead of just having the characters using magic descended from Alchemy. And as for “Sailor Moon”, say what you will about whom Sailor Moon was meant for, the show had great villains, particularly Death Phantom, the final villain in Season two (otherwise known as “Sailor Moon R”), And Professor Tomoe, the primary villain in season three (likewise, otherwise known as “Sailor Moon S”). Death Phantom was the Arch-type, ‘hooded-cloak-at-all-times-creepy-old-man-type-villain.’Prof. Tomoe was your typical ‘mad-scientist-type’ who was often seen standing in a shadowy laboratory, with what light there is shining off his large glasses, and his wide, open mouth can also be seen moving. Also the actor playing his voice had a great mad scientist laugh. His laugh, disposition, and the back round music that usually played in his scenes had the combined effect of making him in a word, “creepy.”
Since creating my initial world, I have since created three solid others, and am working on a fourth part-time. My second world is loosely inspired by the “Kirby” games, where the main character has the ability to absorb and ‘copy’ an enemy’s powers and use said powers against said enemies. I have