Writing is never easy. Even the best author can go no where without inspiration. Here we Metamor Keep authors will share some of the things that inspire us!
Tolkien: His writing should be required reading for anyone wanting to write well - whether fiction or anything else. Lord of the Rings is fantastic and I cannot tell you how much of MK draws inspiration from this trilogy. The movies are also amazing and really can give you many ideas! And yes, wargs are cool!
Also try reading another book of his, The Silmarillion.
C.S. Lewis: More chaotic than Tolkien, but loaded with talking animals and just plain fun to read.
J. Michael Straczynski: Most of the writers who have had big, dramatic story arcs in MK claim JMS as an influence on their stories. His seminal SF epic TV series, Babylon 5, set the standard for telling larger than life stories in an episodic format. His themes of the importance of individual choice, of the need to lay down ethnic rivalries for the sake of a common cause, of ordinary people being manipulated by powerful outside forces, and of corruption creeping in to once-noble organizations and subverting them are all reflected in various aspects of the MK world. Second to Tolkien, JMS probably receives more deliberate homages in MK stories than any other writer.
H. P. Lovecraft: While his prose is florid and archaic at best, Lovecraft introduced the concept of cosmic horror into fiction — the idea of powerful, uncaring, alien entities whose influence was still felt in the mortal world, and of Secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know. His fingerprints can be seen on such MK concepts as the Elders, the Titans, the Necromancers, and the Underworld.
George R. R. Martin: While his Song of Ice and Fire is a relatively recent work, and still unfinished, his portrayal of a broad cast of characters caught up in a bitter struggle for power has certainly had an impact on those MK writers for whom diplomacy, war and intrigue are their bread and butter. Duke Verdane and his children, Jaime and Tyrion, are a direct homage to Martin's ruthless and resourceful House Lannister.
Brian Jacques: The classic author of "furry" fantasy fiction. Redwall and its sequels told the story of a fortified abbey and its inhabitants — all of them talking animals — and their struggles to remain free and help the animals around them to do the same. This is probably one of those series that dragged on longer than it should have, but the first six books are all well worth reading, particularly if you have children whom you can share the stories with.
Tim Powers: While his work is usually set in modern times and often dark, his fantasy and historical fiction are usually loaded with imagery and unique magical conceits that can be very useful for granting ideas to MK writers. The Marquis's deck of cards and their magical powers were inspired by his book Last Call.
Tad Williams: One of the best modern fantasy writers, his series Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn revitalized the Fantasy genre and gave it a meatier substance. His ability to make the past of a setting reach forward into the future is a must for anyone who wishes to write a story rich in setting.
Roy Pounds II: A great artist and a good friend. He has done several pictures for MK over the last few years! (Website)
Dark Natasha: Does a lot of furry art and she has inspired several characters in my stories! (Website)
Alan Lee: He may as well be called the Man Who Made Middle-earth. His paintings brought life to Tolkien's words and served as the basis for the artwork and set design in Peter Jackson's movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. The sense of wonder that he conveys in his illustrations is something that many of us MK writers have tried to capture in our own works, to varying degrees of success.
Recommended by Chris O'kane
Daily Life in Medieval Times
by Frances & Joseph Gies
Publisher: Grange Books (August 2005)
This is a compilation of three smaller books all equally good. They delve deeply into Medieval life OFF the battlefield. Want to know what a village looked like in the middle ages? Want to know what crops they raised? What did people do to relax? This books covers those and a lot of other facts. A lot of the things from it found their way into my stories. LOADS of ideas and inspirations in it.
Cathederal, Forge, and Waterwheel
by Frances & Joseph Gies
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 15, 1995)
A busy pair of authors. Read ANY of their books! They cover the fact of how many modern inventions were developed in what people call the dark Ages. The heavy plow, the Gothic flying buttress, water pumps, the lateen sail, the stirrup, silk production and papermaking all were developed then.
The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages
by Jean Gimpel
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Books (2003)
Similair to the previous book but adds whole new information. It covers many unconsidered topics like Pollution control in the Dark ages. (Exactly how is sewage taken care of in a building with constantly shifting walls and halls?).
The Ancient Engineers (Paperback)
by L. Sprague De Camp
Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 3, 1995)
Yes! It is the same author of countless Sci Fi books but this one is pure fact. It covers the development of technology from the stone age up to the Renaissance. Done in a fun and easy to read style. This book is outdated (it was first published in 1960!) and it's scope is limited Europe and the ancient world which includes Persia, China and the middle east. The rest of the world is barely mentioned. The Mayan rate 1 reference in the 500+ pages and Africa has no mention at all! It also limits itself to only to written material which leaves some maddeningly huge gaps! Still the areas he does cover are done amazingly well and he covers the middle east, Roman empire, ancient Greece completely. It is a must for anyone who wants to write Metmor Keep or just understand how they made things in the old days. My first inspirations for Madog and Automatons in general came from here.
The Brother Cadfael Series
by Ellis Peters
I cannot tell you just how much this series has helped me in writing MK. 20 books in the series and also done as a very good British TV series and I recommend both highly! They are set in 12th century England along the Welsh border and really go deeply into the mindset of the time. And only twice in all twenty books did I ever catch the writer breaking character and doing something out of place in the 12th century. An impressive feat I've never matched. For all of those of you who wonder - this is where I got the name Madog from! And a lot of Brother Cadfael (who seems to have been everywhere and done everything) found its way into my character George. Read all of them but you must do so in order as time does pass slowly from book to book.
The first book is 'A morbid Taste for Bones', ISBN: 0446400157.
Check the Wikipedia page for the complete list.
by David Macaulay
Publisher: Sandpiper Houghtom Mifflin (1977)
A VERY cool art book. It shows how the castles of Wales were built by following the building of a fictitious castle. Full of all sorts of great pictures and it explains castle building clearly. VERY highly recommended. Also read his other books Cathedral, Pyramid, City, Mosque, Mill and the dozen others I'm sure I forgot. A prolific artist!
Gold Was The Mortar
by Henry Kraus
Publisher: Barnes & Noble, 2009
A good book on an underrated subject - Cathedral Building. It covers the trials and tribulations of building 8 cathedrals in Europe. It shows the down right nasty and vicious side of the people back then. Especially many high level church leaders who were more interested in gaining power and riches then in serving God. It goes into the surprisingly complex economies and politics of the era. He is also the ONLY writer I've seen to use the word Bourgeoisie without the words 'Decadent capitalist' with it. Very well researched and a quick read.
More recommended reading by Hallan Mirayas
Food in Medieval Times
by Melitta Weiss Adamson
Publisher: Greenwood Press (2004)
Food and utensils was a bit different from what we have now. No forks, bread for plates, and lots and lots of spices. And absolutely no Big Macs!! Don't forget to bring your own knife!
Even more recommended reading by Michael Bard
The Book of Wonder (or anything else by Lord Dunsany).
To my mind, and many other (published fantasy) writers, Lord Dunsany had the greatest gift for names and evocative description ever. He wrote in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and is largely out of print. That link can give some ideas. Don't read it for the plots or character, read it for the names and evocative descriptions.
The Eldritch Dark (or anything else by Clark Ashton Smith, though this site should have everything).
Another one of the forgotten greats, in my mind (and others). He wrote in the '30s, primarily being published in Wierd Tales. His language is colourful (not in the current sense of foul) and mind-searing images of wondrous weirdness. Try some of the shorter stuff on that site and see if you like it.
On Thud and Blunder by Poul Anderson
Required reading for everybody, as writer Poul Anderson goes through common misconceptions in Sword and Sorcery literature—