If you are one of my writing friends and have not yet discovered The Speculative Salon blog, you might want to take a look. It’s written by six women who all write speculative fiction, and they take turns in the box. The latest post, written by Elizabeth Gibson, examines some films she loved as a child and how they influenced her writing. My friend Morgan Mussell also often blogs about the influence of film on his writing. You might want to check out his blog, The First Gates. Anyway, it seemed an interesting exercise to me, so, with a tip of the hat to Elizabeth Gibson, I thought about what films had influenced my writing.
As many of you know, I spent last year working on a historical novel based loosely on my father’s childhood, The Incredible Journey of Freddy J. It is, I hope and believe, a great adventure story. (It is also my hope and belief that one of these days soon a publisher will realize it should be published!) I certainly was a big fan of adventure films all my life. When thinking about Elizabeth Gibson’s post, the first film that came to mind was Treasure Island, the 1950 version with Robert Newton as Long John Silver. Disney did a surprisingly good job with Robert Louis Stevenson’s marvelous book. The resourceful Jim Hawkins is one of the great young heroes of book and film. The Swiss Family Robinson was another great favorite, the 1960 version with John Mills and Dorothy Maguire, heading perhaps the most inventive and ingenious family in all of filmdom. After seeing that film, I was pretty sure if I could find the right man in my life, I could raise a family in a fantastic tree house. (See how I was thinking, even then? LOL.) My writing certainly has been influenced by these and other sweeping adventures filled with resourceful people.
Beyond adventure films, the next group of films that came to mind were the great musicals of the mid-century that were imbued with adventure and, often, romance – The Wizard of Oz, Brigadoon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Calamity Jane. I could go on and on. I saw them at the theatres, bought the albums, and tried to replicate them in our living room, sometimes battling a sister for the starring role and best songs. When I look at Freddy J., I see the influence of these films as well. Music becomes a motif: fuel that keeps Freddy going and reminds him of home.The resourcefulness of those characters also shaped Freddy's character.
I could easily write one of my epic posts examining movies that have informed my writing, but I think for once, I’ll keep it short and simple. What movies have influenced you in what you do or even in how you live your life?