I’m very pleased to welcome author Rhiannon Frater to the blog today. Rhiannon is author of the As the World Dies zombie trilogy as well as numerous other works. The soon to be released As the World Dies Volume two is a collection of short stories featuring different characters set in the same zombie infested world. Please give her a warm welcome.
It is very difficult for me to pick my top ten books, TV shows, or films. I read in many different genres and enjoy a wide plethora of films and TV shows, so I decided to concentrate specifically on genre TV shows and films. My criteria for this list were simple: the film or TV show must be genre and it must have inspired me in in a way that affects my writing.
1. Star Wars
I was seven years old when I first saw the movie that changed my life. I remember to this day the awe that swept over me as I sat in the theater with my three younger brothers transfixed by the images on the screen. I’m pretty sure I hardly blinked throughout the movie (which we watched twice). My own imagination, which had always been fertile, fully bloomed to life as I watched the adventures of Luke Skywalker. I knew this movie was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and that I would never be the same. I walked out of the theater with my mind flooding with ideas and stories of my own.
To this day I get chills whenever I see that famous opening words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” It was the inspiration for the opening to THE FIRST DAYS.
“Somewhere in Texas…”
2. Battlestar Galactica
On the heels of the Star Wars, Hollywood scrambled to take advantage of the sci-fi craze. Battlestar Galatica was more than a Star Wars clone. The story of the twelve worlds that are ravaged by the fearsome robot race known as the Cylons was connected to our world through the use of Egyptian imagery in the helmets of the Colonial Warriors. Even the opening sequence of the show established a connection between the world I existed in and the world of Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer. I loved Lorne Green as Adama and crushed hard on Dirk Benedict as Starbuck and wanted to marry Richard Hatch’s Apollo. I was also thrilled when the women on the show were allowed to fight alongside the men. Anne Lockhart played Sheba who was not only a strong woman and imposing warrior, she won the heart of Apollo.
Though the show was rebooted years later (and I have yet to watch it), the original inspired me to write about female warriors who can stand proudly side by side with their male counterparts.
3. Wonder Woman
I watched the original show starring Lynda Carter when it first aired alongside my mother, a fan of the comic books. We both loved the show and looked forward to it every week. Wonder Woman was not only beautiful, but a capable superhero that saved the day without the help of a man. Wonder Woman also stopped crushing on Steve Trevor and later helped his son when she returned to the USA in the 1970’s. She was a strong, independent woman who didn’t constantly try to attract male attention, or need a man to feel fulfilled. That concept had an enormous impact on me. It was also the age of the “girl next door” and blondes ruled the airwaves. Lynda Carter was a beautiful brunette and part Latina. For a little girl with dark hair and a multi-ethnic background, she was someone I could relate to and admire.
4. The Night of the Living Dead
The movie that started it all. The movie that gave me endless nightmares. The movie that inspired not only me, but many other genre writers to dive into the world of zombies. George A Romero’s black and white zombie tale about a handful of people trapped in a farmhouse during the first day of the zombie rising continues to be my favorite zombie film. Even though we’ve had a slew of excellent zombie films in the last few years, Romero’s original film pulls the viewer into the dark depths of the human imagination to face the most terrible of fears: being consumed alive by an unrelenting, uncaring predator. Every time I watch the film, I always find myself hoping that somehow the group of survivors in the farmhouse will find a way to survive the night. I know the ending, but I always hope for a different one.
Maybe that is why I had to write my own zombie tale.
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Ah, Joss Whedon. How I love to hate you! But he also taught me some valuable lessons as I watched all seven seasons of his show. From Joss I learned to create characters that people could empathize with, love, and cherish, and then kill them without mercy. I have often said that it was the death of Jenny Calendar in season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that taught me to kill my characters. When I witnessed that scene, I could not fathom that she was really dead. I just couldn’t believe it. Of course, Joss went on to kill many other characters in creative and devastating ways. Buffy even killed her beloved Angel. Each time the death propelled the story and the characters forward. I realized that Joss had created a very dangerous world for Buffy to live in and the reality of that world was that people could and would die. I have never forgotten that lesson.
6. The Matrix
I walked into the film with zero expectations. I had only seen the previews on TV and had no idea what it was about. When Neo chose the red pill and found out how deep the rabbit hole went, so did I. His journey was my journey and I was blown away. I loved the entire concept and the shocking twists and turns as the movie progressed. I didn’t learn a particular lesson from The Matrix other than to always hope that I shock and enthrall my readers just as I was the first time I watched that film.
7. The Lord of the Rings
Though I had read the books (forcing myself through them at times), I never dreamed how beautiful and real Middle Earth would become when I saw Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring. I literally felt transported to another world. So much so, that when I walked outside, the modern world looked garish and unreal to my eyes. Though Jackson’s films took liberties with the books, they still deliver on an amazing level. Each film in the trilogy surpassed the one before and when I saw The Return of the King, I cried through most of it. I just didn’t want to leave that world behind. (Thank God, they’re making my favorite book about Middle Earth, The Hobbit, into a film!) As I wrote the As the World Dies trilogy, I kept in mind The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. I wanted to end on a high note, leaving my reader wanting more. When Siege is released in April of this year, I will find out if I succeeded or not.
I loved this show so much that I only missed one episode during the six seasons it was on the air. I was completely addicted and spent hours discussing it with other writers of genre fiction. The one strength that Lost had until the very end was its characters. Even when an episode or storyline let you down, the characters carried you through. I wept when favorite characters died (Juliet, I’m thinking of you!) and worried incessantly for my other favorites when things got rough on the island. I loved those characters (or loathed them) so much, I couldn’t imagine one day losing them. I still miss those characters and wish I could dive back into the world of Lost and learn more. But, alas, it’s over. The writers of Lost had six years to delve deep into the characters in their world, while I had three books. I always tried to give each character in the As the World Dies trilogy one shining moment when you would feel connected to him or her.
9. Black Swan
It may seem weird to see this film on the list, but I after viewing the film multiple times I cannot see it as just a film of psychological horror. The concept of the doppelgänger is heavily explored in the film and while heatedly discussing the film with friends, a few felt that a supernatural reason could be given for the lead characters disintegration and eventual destruction. It is very hard for writers to destroy our “little darlings,” but sometimes the story we are telling demands it. As I prepare to write the sequel to Pretty When She Dies, I have been thinking about Black Swan and its fearless destruction of its lead character.
10. American Horror Story
I will confess to being completely obsessed and addicted to this show. I watched each episode at least twice, once by myself, and once with my hubby. I just loved the characters and the premise. It was not only creepy, but sometimes shocking, and a whole lot of fun. Though some viewers were caught up in the nature of the haunted house, the ghosts that inhabited the mansion (especially Tate) and the evil next door neighbor played brilliantly by Jessica Lange, the core of the story was about the Harmon family. Some of my favorite writers from other genre shows such as James Wong (The X-files) and Tim Minear (Angel, Firefly) wrote some brilliant episodes that paid tribute to horror movies such as Rosemary’s Baby. But no matter how intriguing the back stories of the other ghosts became, or tantalizing the possible history of the house was, the writers kept our focus on the three members of the Harmon family.
In the final episode of the first season of the show, the story of the Harmon family was deftly wrapped up. I truly enjoyed seeing their complete story and look forward to the second season where a new story will take shape. Nowadays novel series dominate a lot of genre fiction to the point where readers always anticipate there will be a sequel. I have a few projects in the making that will be standalone projects and I worry about readers being disappointed when they realize the story was done. After watching American Horror Story, I hope those standalone novels will have satisfying endings that readers will appreciate.
Rhiannon is giving away autographed copies of As the World Dies: Untold Tales 1 & 2. Head on over to her blog to enter.
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies zombie trilogy and the author of several other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. The first two books in her zombie trilogy, The First Days and Fighting to Survive, are available now in bookstores. Siege will be in bookstores on April 24, 2012.