Everyone has a few specific works that most influenced them growing up, and creators are no exception. For us, these influences find their way into our works. They leave their fingerprints not only on our hearts, but on what we make. To shed some light on which works have influenced my own, and how specifically they’ve done that, I’m going through my own biggest influences below. See which of them you’re familiar with!
Lord of the Rings
I was raised on this series since the age of 8, albeit originally just the movies. But as I got older and delved into the books, I was exposed to a world of fantasy unlike any I’d experienced before. Sure, I’d read fantasy before, but high fantasy was a different beast. This is where I first became enamored with the idea of creating a whole world’s mythology and its languages, along with the very pure battle between good and evil. In other works these themes can be sometimes murky, but I also appreciate the absoluteness, the surety of Good in the LotR.
I tell everyone to read or watch Fullmetal Alchemist (which if you’re going to do, watch Brotherhood; it’s far more loyal to the plot). I’m serious. Do it. This series combines so many different elements that no two chapters read the same, no two characters alike. This was one of my first fantasy reads where there was no monarchy (gasp!); it also has bone-chilling political conspiracies, and strong depictions of man toying with the universe’s natural order. There are a variety of character motivations and plot devices far outside the norm that propel the story forward. As it was my first encounter with something like this, it’s been my bar for success ever since.
I’ve been handed a lot of classics in my school life, and I’ve often hated them. I expected the same with Frankenstein— but ended up loving it instead. Growing up with a lot of moral Black-and-White-ism, this book challenged me. I struggled with reading about a creator who had no ill intentions yet did foul things, with a character that tested the very idea of what it meant to be human, with seeing the innocence in things that were otherwise corrupted. These were monumental concepts to me at the time, and remain so today.
Final Fantasy VII
I cannot state this clearly enough: Final Fantasy VII was a definitive game-changer for me. (To be fair, all of the works on here are, but you get my point.) Its story had as much an impact on me as Harry Potter, introducing me to a whole new type of fantasy world in the process; one with a brutal depiction of class struggles and environmentalism and humans manipulating the natural world in a ploy to become gods. FFVII was a triumph of a story in so many ways and is widely hailed as one of the best video games of all time. A lot of that credit comes down to its plot, and rightly so. The breadth of this story is on par with any epic, and has inspired countless ideas and characters and themes in my work.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
I distinctly remember seeing this show premiere when I was 9 years old, and I’ve loved it ever since. This was the first piece of media I’d ever consumed wherein no one was white, for one. It introduced me to the concept that there were other cultures to draw from than just northern European ones–which shouldn’t be revolutionary, but certainly was for 9-year-old me. Here is where I first saw the perfect example of a redemption arc, a favorite trope of mine to this day. I saw that you could balance a story that was equal parts lighthearted and intense. So many parts of this series have found their way into my own.
There are many great stories out there. Some of my all-time favorites aren’t even on here– but I’m not trying to share those. I want to share the most personally influential works that have impacted my own, the ones that you can find threads of in my writings. (And maybe introduce some folks to a new, awesome story. Who knows?)
What works have had the biggest impact on you? Comment below!