(…and do you intentionally collaborate with anyone in putting together the plot and its redrafts?)
This question has made me think a lot! In terms of muses and influences, I’m not sure I’m particularly planned. Some people consume thier culture with precision, knowing exactly what ‘their thing’ is and following all the logical connections. I’m more the sort of person who stumbles upon the art that excites me by mistake or providence! Certain films, books and performances have stuck with me over the years and grown large in my imagination. It’s a pretty eclectic mix, here are some of the things that have influenced me in no particular order…Jostein Gaader’s Sophie’s World, David Wood’s children’s musicals, Tom Stoppards Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the 80s cult film classic Clue, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, Salman Rushdie’s Enchantress of Florence, Charlie Kaufman’s film script for Adaptation, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulan Rouge, Forced Entertainment’s performance The Travels, the stories of the Celtic Saints and Christopher Bookers The Seven Basic Plots. Things that seems to connect these are playfulness with stories, place or journey and love of the epic, spiritual or philosophical.
In terms of collaboration, I suppose I see Rise of the Shadow Stealers as emerging from a group of friends who’ve been experimenting with community and faith in the context of the city of Leeds over the past decade, so there are a whole host of people who have helped shape the story without necessarily knowing it. Some of those people have been part of the process of feedback, criticism and redrafting at points along the way. I would always be interested to hear from people who would be willing to provoke me to think through what a story is saying, and support and encourage me to pull it through to completion. Let me know if you are such a person!