As a writer I understand that research is important, but not just in a factual, information-based sense. We have to draw inspiration from everything around us; inspiration is the purest form of research. Without the books I've read, the movies I've watched, the games I've played, there would be no Araz. There would be no Sanguine Town. There would be no Hero Legends. And though the latter two may be sitting on the backburner whilst I steam ahead with Doomprince and my explorations of Araz, I can't help but think how everything I've read, watched and played has informed me up to now, and will continue to do so.
I first found my passion for writing from a SATS paper, writing a frightfully short story about space soldiers battling ash men using water guns. It was a simple story, and though I have lost it I recall how the main character showed regret at the end, after using a giant water cannon to destroy the volcano they called a home. He felt grief, aware he had killed children in that attack. And in his despair he saw the ghosts of his parents, who forgave him and urged him to join the party with his men.
That ending was inspired by Star Wars VI, which I had watched not long before. I saw the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Vader and Yoda, and thought it was an amazing technique, and that idea became part of a later story.
The next piece of writing I did was, essentially, plagiarism, inspired very heavily by the masterwork that is Tolkien's The Hobbit. The plot was, essentially, the same. The main character was travelling with Dwarves and a Wizard, he faced Trolls, he faced a Dragon, he was a non-human character. Yet without this early piece I may not have tried to write more later in life.
Even this early piece had elements of originality, or at the least drew on other sources of inspiration. The Elves became Giant Rats, the Dragon was actually just a misunderstood softie, and I spent a long time thinking about the main character's race; they lived in Hill-Forts, had "evil" cousins, and he was an outcast for being completely dedicated to nature.
In fact, Doomprince itself started from two lone ideas.
1: What would it be like if the story was written from the perspective of the "evil" faction?
2: I'd like the knights to ride dragons or dinosaurs in battle (this idea all came from the Malus Darkblade novels)
And now, years later, I continue to find inspiration. The Drakon'Zoku were inspired by my explorations of Japanese Samurai culture, discovered through games like Shogun II: Total War. More recently I started reading the Raven's Shadow trilogy by Anthony Ryan (in fact, I finished reading Blood Song today), and found that it was giving me major boosts of inspiration and confidence. Playing the Witcher games has prompted me to explore deeper into conflicts of culture between the races of my world, and I often write with its soundtrack in my ears.
Inspiration, it seems, is all around us, and can come from any number of places. As I write, as I walk, as I play or work or even as I sleep, I wait for the inspiration to find me.
And my notebooks are ready...