Better minds have come up with cleverer answers to the most common question posed to writers, but I’m one of those who replies in all honesty, “everything.”
Of course, no one likes that answer, so often I’ll point out the conscious influences on a particular novel: for instance, horror films for Prince of Wolves, kung fu movies for Master of Devils, and so on. What’s more fun is later discovering unconscious influences when a reader makes a connection to some source I then I realize must have been in the back of my mind while writing.
For me, the conscious influences range from movies to news articles to behaviors or events I’ve witnessed in person. I haven’t yet based a whole character on someone I know in real life, but I’ve lifted plenty of mannerisms, patterns of speech, and other traits from different sources. In that sense, every character is a bit of a Frankenstein monster.
Many of you are also writers. What are your conscious influences? And are there any unconscious influences you became aware of only long after you’d written a story?