For Anthony, there are many things that have inspired his writing; from the experiences he has had through my life, to the novels and films he has enjoyed. Everything has had an influence on him, be it the small bulletin on the news or a conversation he has overheard. They have all sown the seeds of an idea, some that, to date, he has used and others that are there, waiting in the back of his mind (or on a scrap of paper) to be used.
I have spoken to a few authors and many of them have said that they are influenced and inspired by everything around them, that they absorb all they see, using life to water their fertile imagination. Of course, we are all different and work in many different ways – but the end result is the same. We are inspired by life and the experiences it offers us.
Growing up, I was, like so many other young boys in the late 1970s, besotted by Star Wars. George Lucas’ masterpiece would have me off on adventures on my own, waving my lightsabre at imaginary foes as I saved the galaxy, time and time again. My head was firmly in the stars and I devoured any sci-fi I could find, or watch; Battlestar Galactica, Flash Gordon and Doctor Who, to name but a few. But, even then, at my early age, I found myself wanting, sometimes, for the bad guys to win and I came to enjoy the villans just as much, if not more than the heroes. In my humble opinion, heroes are nothing without a great nemesis.
So how did he come to love writing so much? Why are his tales not fixed firmly in the stars? Perhaps one day, he may well re-visit his childhood days of battling aliens and visiting strange, unexplored galaxies. But, for now, his heart and his writing is devoted to the sometimes maligned genre of fantasy, and his first steps into the realm of thrillers and historical fiction.
In the last few years of primary school, a friend of his, Derren Richens, invited him back to his house after school, to play this new game he had. It was a book, where you could fight monsters and roll dice to decide the outcome, chosing your path through the narrative as you read. It was his first introduction to Fighting Fantasy and it was to change everything. his friend loaned him his copy of Caverns of the Snow Witch by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone and from then on, his imagination was captured, drawn inexorably to fantasy, myth and legends. From there, he began to read about Greek and Roman Mythology – eager to fuel his hungry imagination. It was not long, naturally, before he read The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R Tolkien. The door was opened and inspired by the fellowships’ adventures, he began to devour any fantasy book he could get his hands on. Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara was a great inspiration to him in my early years and it was from there, that he discovered the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game.
He could now Escape on adventures of his own, journey with comrades on wild quests, creating characters of his own. He would play the various incarnations of that game for the next two and a half decades, through his secondary school life and well into his thirties. As he and his friends grew into their late teens, he began to write stories of his own, some of them based on many of their game sessions. His characters began to get in-depth background stories, as he fleshed out their back story and, although he did not do very well in his exams at school, he still had the ability to create enjoyable (if not well written or punctuated) stories that were liked by anyone who read them.
In the early 1990’s his influences and his imagination was to be forever changed. By then, he was still heavily into my fantasy reading, enjoying the likes of Raymond E Feist, RA Salvatore and anything that came out for the worlds of D&D. A friend of his, Alan Findlay loaned him a copy of Knights of Dark Renown by David A Gemmell and he finally found the author that would inspire him to dream, to dare hope that one day he could tell heroic tales of his own.
Anthony would continue to follow Gemmell’s writing career, right up to his unexpected death in 2006. Because of this, he began to write his own tales and after hearing a conversation in a supermarket one day, a chat that he should not have overheard, the seeds of the idea for Whispers of a Storm were formed. It would go on to take him two years to write the first draft and a lot longer than that to get it ready for publication, but had it not been for the people who guided him on his path, and ultimately for the friends he has mentioned, he would not be on the wriitng jounrey he is on today.