Childhood influences on writing! (And an afterlife of words?)

The other morning, while on the train, I somehow randomly got to thinking about my favourite childhood television show:


Typically enough, I suppose, my childhood was filled with stages, mostly of the adventurous and mysterious varieties. (Power Rangers, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Nancy Drew…)

But Ghostwriter, I think, is the one that stands out the most. It was adventurous and mysterious both, yes, but at its heart?

Ghostwriter is about the importance and power of words.

To offer up Wikipedia’s summation, for those unfamiliar and/or link-phobic:

“The series revolves around a close knit circle of friends from Brooklyn who solve neighborhood crimes and mysteries as a team of young detectives with the help of an invisible ghost. The ghost can communicate with the kids only by manipulating whatever text and letters he can find and using them to form words and sentences. […] The series was designed to teach reading and writing skills to elementary and middle school children. Each mystery was presented as a case, covering four or five thirty-minute episodes; children were encouraged to follow each mystery, and use the reading and writing clues given to attempt to solve them just as the Ghostwriter team does in the show.”

And I adored it. I clung to the show itself, I collected the novelisations, I crushed on one of the kids…and it in turn crept into my brain. The Ghostwriter phase, you see, either partly coincided with, or at least brushed close to, the very first incarnation of The Novel, the one I’ve now been working on for over half of my life.

Plotwise, the only similarity between the two was the general sense of ‘kids on a fantastical adventure’. But looking back, I finally noticed the names of three out of my four original main characters. I’ve a Tina. A Gabbie, though spelt differently than Ghostwriter’s Gaby. An Alex, though my Alex is short for Alexandra, instead. (Incidentally, the fourth girl was Marie — now Marin — a name I just generally liked at the time.)

I don’t recall ever consciously naming or modeling my own characters after their Ghostwriter counterparts, and I’m fairly certain that I would remember doing so. But it’s funny, the way that fiction and words, in any form, can help to form tiny little brains.

And if that wasn’t the point of Ghostwriter…then what was?
So imagine my surprise when I decided to look the series up that afternoon, and discovered that the first season was not only finallyfinallyfinally released on dvd, but inside my store!

Needless to say, I purchased it, and am very much looking forward to rewatching it for the first time in god only knows how many years, and seeing what other little snippets he may have used to influence my own work. :)

In short?

Thanks, Ghostwriter. I think you made your point pretty damn well. ♥
What childhood influences do you see in your own writing nowadays? :)

(And can any of you argue that the concept of an afterlife of words is actually just kind of awesome?)


One thought on “Childhood influences on writing! (And an afterlife of words?)

  1. I used to watch Ghostwriter! Not enough that it became a major influence, however. I got introduced to it around the time we gave up cable, so.

    My childhood influences include Captain Planet (it drove me to paganism, which informs my fiction and poetry) and The Princess Bride (movie, not book, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while now and may actually get to do this year). Also Star Trek and Star Wars, probably.

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