Influences and Muses

the last ship play poster, influences and muses

Ok, some of my influences and muses are pretty well known. Others, not so much.

princess of wales theatre, the last ship play
Outside the Princess of Wales Theatre

Simple as it sounds, I feel this is important to discuss. Also, this blog needs some levity added in.

You see, every writer under the sun is inspired by someone. And that person becomes part of their literary DNA. So today, I want to share some the influences who really underpin my style of writing. Take this as suggested reading and listening, and a small invitation to know me better.

Sting, a.k.a. Gordon Sumner

Don’t laugh. (I mean it!) This may seem a bit random to those who don’t know me. However, friends and family are vigorously nodding their heads. Sting holds the title of my favorite musician throughout my entire life. I have to credit him for the beginnings of my love for poetry. Even today, the elegance of his lyrics still capture me with their vivid imagery. Just look at this line from my very favorite song: “Those who speak know nothing/ and find out to their cost,/ like those who curse their luck/ in too many places,/ and those who fear are lost.” His music also helped me build my vocabulary and my understanding of various historical events.

My love for his style of writing is so deep, that my husband and I literally drove from southeastern Virginia to Toronto, Canada to see his show, The Last Ship. In the winter. I really could go on and on, but it should suffice to say that if you don’t find his music magical, I really am judging you.

J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve mentioned my adoration for Tolkien multiple times, so I’ll keep this one brief. But you should know that he was the first influence to make me deeply consider pursuing a Ph.D. I also write books because I originally wanted so badly to write something of worth like his books. It may surprise you that I also get my penchant for writing SUPER-DETAILED descriptions from him. You don’t see it much in my writing now, but oh boy is it something I have to be aware of at all times! Also, can we talk about how wondrous his world-building is? Second to none, really.

Edgar Allan Poe

At the Edgar Allan Poe memorial in Baltimore, MD.

This one may come across as mystifying and commonsense all at once. Poe’s works have always been on my shelves. Literally, everywhere I’ve been in the world, I have a copy of his stories/poetry in hand. You may recognize my other connection to him from the first lines in my poetry book, Frankenstein & the Phoenix: “Born in the city/ that remembers Poe,/ I came to the world/ with eyes of first snowfall/ and branded thigh.” Yup, I was born in Baltimore, Maryland. The same place where Poe lived the last days of his life.

It’s true: I love a good, haunting story. Not gory or obscene, but a story that stays with you in its sensory command. My childhood bears the legacy of ghost stories, courtesy of the deep-rooted Southern culture around belief in spirits. And I respect Poe’s contribution to this body of supernatural and thriller literature. Also, I have his poem, “Annabel Lee,” committed to memory.

Kahlil Gibran

A literary crush I will never outgrow. I am an ardent lover of his writing style. The sheer beauty of his word-choice is enough to command respect. But his thoughts- there is something truly remarkable. I still feel like I dialogue with his logic and musings each time one of his books crosses my mind. Jesus, Son of Man is perhaps one of the best works of fiction on Christ that I have read. There is a wild beauty about that text that I simply can’t get over. And Mary Magdalene’s narratives in the book always touch my heart in a profound way. These lines from Christ to her get me every time:

But I see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and it shall not be offended. I alone love the unseen in you.”

You’re seeing a theme here, right? Beautiful, carefully chosen words to convey something meaningful. There are, of course, several other important individuals who influence my writing. But I wanted to start here with some fundamentals. I will write about some others later on.

But I hope this provides you with some insight into me. Certainly, sampling these writers is a great way to start better understanding my approach to writing. Yes, I am classics-biased. I am an unabashed lover of language and try to reflect that in my work. I do not seek shallow interpretations. My work dives deep into the heart of a matter. This is my literary signature.

In Courage & Care,

Samantha

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