My advisor says that I’ve done more research for my Creative Writing Thesis than anyone else she has had. She has “advised” me to make up a sort of bibliography of the literature and texts that have gone into all this. It’s to beaf up my written proposal and serve as a sort of FU to the English program goombas who sneer at fiction and think we’re a bunch of con artists (it’s true, but so what!) who don’t work hard (I say someone has to write what they read). I’ll make a proper bibliography later, right now, here is a list of various works that (in small or large parts) have gone into my epic poem (Souls Unsure for those just tuning in):
The Inferno of Dante (the Robert Pinsky translation)
Dante’s Inferno by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders (this tells the same poem but gives a modern adaptation to the words, people, and places…and is set in a city that eerily resembles L.A. – which seems fitting to me – with wood carvings that look like the originals…but with the same modern context – very fun read)
The Most Evil Men and Women in History by Miranda Twiss (Barnes and Noble is a really dangerous place for me to go…I CANNOT walk by the bargain rack and not purchase a piece of non fiction like this…because I know it will go into a story…and indeed this one will as the Blood Countess will make a cameo in my book.)
The Book of Vodou by Leah Gordon (another bargain bullet in the perforated body of my funds…)
Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn by Karen McCarthy Brown (A very helpful biography of a voodoo priestess in…well the title says.)
Shades of Sheol: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament by Philip S. Johnston (this book details the semi-obscure underworld/Limbo I’ve set my story in, Sheol)
A Dictionary of Angels by Gustav Davidson
Malleus Maleficarum by Jacobus Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer (translated, it means “The Hammer of Witchcraft,” and is the text guidebook that the Inquesition used to hunt demons and witches from Medieval times on – translated by Montague Summers, a famous “vampire scholar and hunter” of the late 19th/early 20th century – it’s great the things you can find on Ebay!)
From the Ashes of Angels by Andrew Collins (crazy quasi-ancient conspiracy book on how fallen angels controlled mankind…I really only skimmed it for any angelic details I could use…other than that, it makes a handy door stop)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (I really liked the movie adaptation, but have not read the whole book yet. I skimmed the chapters with the voodoo priestess character for details.)
The Crow by J. O’ Barr (Read about the author…or watch the painful interview in the special features of the movie adaptation’s DVD, to find out the very dark, painful, and genuine place that this story came from…)
The Book of Ballads edited by Charles Vess (takes a bunch of ancient ballads from the British Isles and puts them in comic book form…and then gives the actual ballad at the end of each story)
The Byronic Hero in Film, Fiction and Television by Atara Stein (I love when a scholar doesn’t mind mixing their culture and pop culture. This book not only delves into the interesting characteristics of this dark and pensive archetype, but also illustrates how perfvasive it is in modern culture – from lit to film to Buffy to the Terminator.)
Since most of the poetry I read is by Poe (and most of my more impressive bits of my vocab come from his works), he is certainly an influence too – Neil Gaiman as well (particularly his Sandman graphic novels – taken collectively, they are a massive epic all their own – as well as his short story, “Murder Mysteries”). Scroll down the the December 5th entry to get an idea of some of the other works, songs, and lyrics that pull the little strings in my head.
There is certainly more…but those are the books on my mind or on hand at the moment.