I’m delighted to have author Stephen Palmer here today as a guest contributor today as part of his blog tour in celebration of his recently published trilogy, Conjuror Girl, which starts with Monique Orphan
Those few fans who have remained with me through what I loosely call a career best know me for my
SF. Recently however I’ve journeyed into fantasy, steampunk and World War 1. My influences are many
and varied. In the early days it was all about Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, Gwyneth Jones and William
Gibson. Wolfe was a perfect match for me. I love enigma and mystery, and having to work everything out
myself (who is the Conciliator?). Wolfe provided exactly that – the most labyrinthine of genre authors.
Vance I liked for sheer bravura imagination. Gwyneth Jones I enjoyed because of her intriguing
characters and willingness to take risks (Escape Plans comes to mind) – also for being a very intelligent
author. And Gibson was the tech master, whose Neuromancer felt like neon tubes exploding in my
mind… but in a good way. And Tolkien was always there. For all that Lord Of The Rings betrays the era
in which it was written, it remains the greatest fantasy of them all – the greatest story.
After I’d been published by Orbit I discovered new authors. China Mieville I found because I loved the
cover art for Perdido Street Station. The book turned out to be a matchless gothic confection. I also loved
Ian MacLeod’s The Light Ages, pitched somewhere between Mieville and Susana Clarke. But by the time
I had Urbis Morpheos published my influences were changing more radically. I was travelling from fiction
I do read some fiction, but far less than I used to. What interests me now is non-fiction: anthropology,
science, psychology, philosophy. These then are my new influences.
Nicholas Humphrey I love for his sheer genius. He is the Darwin of human consciousness, and all his
books are miracles. Yuval Noah Harari is the brilliant man who wrote Sapiens and 21 Ideas For The 21st
Century, two of the best books on the history and future of humanity. Both these authors gave me
thematic ideas for novels, including the Factory Girl trilogy. James Lovelock still inspires me with his
books on planetary systems: Gaia. Another major influence in recent years has been Jan Salaciewicz,
whose books on geology have never been less than excellent. I like his work because he focuses on
long time periods, something which fascinates me, contributing to the style of Urbis Morpheos. Further
back in time, the great humanist psychotherapist Erich Fromm remains a shining light in my life, with
most of his books contributing to my own novels in some way.
As for fiction that recently has intrigued me, much of it has been YA. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
is an influence, particularly because of Pullman’s intent to write “an adult book with young characters,” as
he put it. I love that blend of youthful search for self and identity and profound themes. Elsewhere, I liked
Sally Gardner’s I, Coriander very much, and its mix of Faery and real life made me think. Influences are
visible and invisible, and all authors have them – a good thing. We don’t write in a cultural vacuum. I
hope my influences inform my published works.
A big thank you to Stephen for sharing this look at his influences. Conjuror Girl’s three books – Monique Orphan, Monique Orfan, Monique Hatherley – are out now, published by Infinite Press and available at all major booksellers.
To find out more about Stephen and his books, please visit his website at https://stephenpalmersf.wordpress.com/