I was having dinner with a friend the other night, and he was talking about something being a copy of a copy.

Originally I had to say that I agreed with him, but that it wasn’t a bad thing, for dwarves can see far when they stand on the backs of giants.

He’s Japanese, so it took a bit of explaining, but essentially so long as you are not plagiarizing something then I think that it is totally acceptable to be inspired by others.

For example, when we were in 4LS, we did the the “Influence Map” Meme, both individually and as a group:

The result was spectacular:

The full 4LS influence map. Click for the full image.
The full 4LS influence map.
Click for the full image.

I had forgotten about it until he brought it up, and then it made me think about what actually influences myself. I think that the self-reflection that this exercise makes you do is a pretty good thing.

So, after a couple of crazy weeks, a good long soak in the bath, some vegetable soup and Chapter 31 of Arctic Gale, I decided that I should do the same for Arctic Gale. It’s also good timing with Arctic Gale, as we are now into the final few chapters of the first draft. Today I hit 60,000 words; not a record for me (I think the first draft of the Hanako path was about 100,000) but certainly long enough for me to achieve my ultimate goal of turning it into a physical book.

My Influence Map for Arctic Gale. Click for poor photoshop.
My Influence Map for Arctic Gale. Click for poor photoshop.

Now, I will admit that I am a little tired and a bit shit at photoshop, so forgive the poor quality. I will note that there are some mild “Spoilers” in the text below, mostly around things like location or Easter eggs, but please, if you get angry at that kind of thing then please tune out now. I won’t give away any vital plot points.

So, let me explain a few of the squares. Unfortunately due to my poor photoshop ability you will have to deal with me hopping around the place as a few of these squares have a temporal significance as well!

So, let’s start at the top right: Tsar Bomba. I’ve always been interested in nuclear weapons, initially as a pyromaniac kid, then as a scientist, and now as, I guess, what you could call a pacifist.

The Tsar Bomba was the biggest nuclear weapon ever exploded at 50 MT, and that was at half power as they wanted to be close enough to study it. If you get much bigger than this bomb then you reach the destructive limit of atomic bombs, as you punch a hole in the atmosphere and the blast energy heads away from Earth.

When I heard about  this bomb I got thinking about what it actually meant for the testing ground. It would effectively be off limits for humanity for quite some time. It carved out a huge crater in an otherwise featureless island in northern Russia. So when I started thinking about the location for AG my mind turned to Novaris Zemlya, the test site. It also inspired me to think about different technologies, like space mirrors, that could be used to warm up the tundra to become livable land.

To the left of this is 4LS. When I joined the team (after 6 chapters of AG) I was a pretty hot-headed, arrogant writer. The team at 4LS taught me how to critique my own work, and I’ll be putting those lessons to work during the approaching editing phase. Even when I’m planning the story or writing a scene I hear Aura, Delta, Suriko and A22 screaming at me to make it better, and hopefully that has helped you all.

Below 4LS is Kiddy Grade. This is one of the first Anime that I watched, and it was certainly the first one that moved me enough to start getting involved in the “creation” instead of “consumption” of content. I think I have written about this in my blog.

The two receptionists in the Depoc building that help in the first real fight of the book are inspired by Eclair and Lumiere, and Kate’s character is based, in part on Eclair’s ability to kick a massive amount of arse. I have also pinched a couple of other elements relating to the control of such Agents from Kiddy Grade, such as the remote control of their systems and the ability to control/sense things through a radio link (although this isn’t really unique to Kiddy Grade, either). Also partially featured in this would be Ghost in the Shell, but I didn’t really have the space to put in every bit of influence here! Maybe a better square would be Anime in which enhanced women kick significant amounts of arse and also robots.

Equilibrium and, I suppose in nearly equal parts, 1984, are both inspirations for this work, especially around the totalitarian government. Both deal with someone who has realised that the government is trying to develop a system to control everyone in the population and try to fight the system from within. Tied up into this as well is Schumpeter’s Socialism, Capitalism and Democracy, a book from the 1950’s that goes into waaaay too much depth about the three topics in the title. This was a bit of an eye opener to the attitudes of Socialists and the struggle that was starting up at the beginning of the Cold War. I’ve applied some of the techniques he discusses into the later parts of the book (I read the book in early 2014) and I’ll probably wrap some more of these thoughts into the character’s backstory (which I need to work on for Dani and Drew, given that they moved from fringe characters to central characters before I knew it).

 The Bloody Beetroots feature because their song, Chronicles of a Fallen Love was one of the songs that really inspired me to start writing again. I thought “man, I would love to have a song like this as the end credits song to the AG movie…” or something similar, and so when I get stuck I put on one of those tracks and get myself back into the groove.

The Australian Defence Force Academy applies here as well for a few reasons. It is where I did my degree, so it combined military and academic training (I will also note that I left the services after my degree). I won’t claim to be any kind of solider, nor did I get in any fights beyond training exercises, however I will admit that some of my feelings about the training regime have slipped into Kate’s story.

Lastly, the Killing Fields in Cambodia and the Christchurch Earthquakes are both areas that I have traveled to in the course of writing AG that have directly impacted the work. The Country House is an idea that I had after visiting Wellington and seeing just how long it can take for these areas to be fixed when you don’t have the money or the systems in place to deal with such incidents.

And the Killing Fields are one of those reminders that sometimes normal people can do extraordinarily cruel and unimaginable things when they are placed in a society that sees enemies in every corner…

So, I hope that this gives you a bit of an insight into the process. Even writing this has made me realise links that I hadn’t even noticed until now…

I hope that those of you that are reading Arctic Gale are enjoying it, and that now that we are approaching the end that I can live up to your expectations without having to write A Runner’s Afternoon 3…


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