Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Guest Post: Fictional Inspirations - Andy Briggs


When I was asked to write a blog on my fictional inspirations, my brain somersaulted into what a feared was an infinite loop which would result in a single answer: everything. But then I took a step back from the question and, while writing the second book in THE INVENTORY series, I started to wonder exactly what inspired me…

First, the whole notion of my new series, THE INVENTORY: IRON FIST, was inspired by comic books. More specifically, the adverts at the back of old comics that used to promise x-ray specs, hypnotic hats and gloves that let you clamber up walls. It was all very inspiring, even if the final product that arrived at your door was, basically, rubbish.

The comics themselves were a huge inspiration. Dashing characters doing impossible things was always an attraction to me. Plus, being a reluctant reader, they really pushed me forward so rapidly that I started craving books.

Then the books came thick and fast, from The Hobbit through to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Tarzan. From The Lost World to my huge collection of Fighting Fantasy (Deathtrap Dungeon being my favourite) and Choose Your Own Adventure books. The pattern, in retrospect, was one of adventure, escapism and “what if…?”

The Hobbit showed me that entire worlds could be constructed on the page, populated by incredible creatures that had their own languages and customs. It was all a far cry from my childhood town of Liverpool.

While I could escape to other lands with Tolkien, it was Chocolate Factory that taught me adventure and magic could be found in the centre of a dull industrial town, which is something I could relate to.

While lessons in school focused on what we know, it was the book, The Lost World, written by Sherlock’s Arthur Conan Doyle, that opened my eyes to the fact that there are still things in the world that we don’t know about. Even now parts of the Amazon remain unexplored and there are swathes of ocean we have never ventured into; and new species are being discovered every year. This book inspired me so much that, as soon as I was able, I started travelling the world as much as possible (even going to the same location that inspired Doyle to write the book). It was while I was in the Amazon jungle that I was further inspired to create a story called Legendary, which I later wrote and produced as a feature film. That was something I never thought I would do while reading the book in school.

One book that stopped me in my tracks was The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the first of Douglas Adams’ amazing series. It taught me that ideas could be wacky and still be compelling reading. For me, this went beyond creating mere fantasy realms, but entire universes with infinite probabilities that anything could happen. And that you could also be funny at the same time.

Looking back on these inspirations, it’s no surprise that my own stories tend to combine travelling the world with some sort of adventure and puzzle. However, even as I write this, this most surprising thing of all is that the 11 year old me – reading all those books – didn’t have an inkling of where they would take me. That is the true power of a book, they don’t just change your view of the world. They make you want to go out there and want to change things yourself.

Andy Briggs is a screenwriter, producer and author of the Hero.com, Villain.net and Tarzan series. Andy has worked on film development for Paramount and Warner Bros, as well as working with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and producer Robert Evans. With a strong social media following, Andy tours the UK regularly, doing festival, school and library events.

Look out for my review and a giveaway of The Inventory: Iron Fist coming later this morning!

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