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November 15, 2017

As writers, we all get our inspiration from different sources. While a writer of a certain genre is likely to cite that specific genre as their inspiration, when it comes to fantasy, my core source actually comes from a different perspective.


First off, no matter what genre I write – and folks, my thing is fiction, not non-fiction – everything I write is an adventure. Not only is the story basically an adventure, regardless of genre, but the entire production, from writing to editing to all the other stuff is an adventure as well. I talked about the novels that inspired me when I was a kid, and all of them except one (and even that “literary” classic) were adventure stories, some serial, some not. Sure, they may have been labeled mystery, or classic science fiction, but when you get right down to it, they were still adventures. That same ethos permeates my fantasy writing (as well as all the other genres I write).


Icky bug, my definition for horror, struck early. At first, I love/hated it when my cousin, Terry made me watch those old b-movie monster movies, They used to show them on Chiller Theater on Saturday or Sunday afternoons on KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles when we all came to visit Grandpa in Playa Del Rey (or as we called it), Playa della Ray. I still call it that, as a matter of fact. My Dad loved those movies as well and used to watch them when they’d occasionally come on TV back in Lompoc, where we lived at the time. When I started getting nightmares and ulcers from all that, Grandpa got fed up with it and took me to a movie studio somewhere near Playa Del Rey where they’d filmed scenes from Gone With The Wind, and showed me a phony burned out town. Once I saw how fake it was, along with my dad pointing out errors in just about every movie we watched, regardless of genre, I finally “got it.” Then, when that “inverted ice cream cone” with the tentacles crawled across the screen, or the gorilla in the diving helmet blew bubbles to kill people, things became fun.

Over the decades, I read and loved a host of icky bug novels and authors. That played a role in what creatures ended up in my fantasy novels.


To tell the truth, what most attracted me to fantasy novels was word of mouth and the awesome cover art. However, several things turned me off to them.

Number one was Lord of the Rings. This epic fantasy classic, first off, was written in omniscient point of view. Almost fifty years ago, when I first read it, I had no idea why I didn’t really like the writing, or why I struggled with it. All these decades later, I now know why. A few years ago, when I tried to read one of those books again, I couldn’t get through the first chapter.

Number two was the wordy text. The narrative dragged a lot. Unlike my adventure novels, this series did not easily get to the point.

Number three was that most other fantasy novels I tried to slog through lived up to those same issues, either with point of view, rambling narrative, or both.

Number four had to do with the cover art. A lot of times, the words inside didn’t even come close to living up to the cover art.

There were a few exceptions like the works of Andre Norton, but even then, I loved her science fiction stuff more than her fantasy.

The only fantasy writer that has ever kept my attention all the way through was RA Salvatore. However, it wasn’t enough that I went out and bought all his books. I had too many others in my more familiar genres to keep me going.


To get down to the true inspiration for Meleena’s Adventures, I have to look no further than Dungeons & Dragons. My wife and I were avid, dedicated players in much of the eighties when we lived in Turkey and Spain. Then, the more popular it became, the more assholes became involved and the whole thing lost its luster. That’s about the time the Commodore 64 and 128 came along and then the first computer role playing games. From there, I never played another pen and paper D&D game. I no longer had to put up with anyone else’s bullshit.

The core inspiration of D&D was still there, but it was other worlds, other rules.

I never intended to write a fantasy novel. However, since that’s mainly what my wife reads, she kept asking me to write a fantasy. I finally broke down and went for it. Little did I know how much I’d enjoy the process and get into the world of Meleena, then own the whole thing. I drew much inspiration from playing D&D and computer RPGs, but at the same time, that’s all it was. Inspiration. The real core of Meleena, despite the fantasy trappings, comes from all those adventure and icky bug novels, filtered through a D&D lens with maybe a little Ivanhoe and Edgar Rice Burroughs thrown in.

My goal was to write a rousing adventure in a fantasy world, and hopefully to live up to the cover art. Every writer has their story of what inspired them. What’s yours?

Happy writing!


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