I’m getting ready to write an essay about Warren Ellis. No, not the composer who works with Nick Cave, but the novelist and comic book writer Warren Ellis. Because of this, I’ve been revisiting old favorites such as Planetary and the subversive Transmetropolitan (By the way, is anyone else of the opinion that Spider Jerusalem is a thinly veiled version of Alan Moore?), and his first novel, Crooked Little Vein. I’m not really having to delve too deeply into the new stuff such as Trees, Injection, and his more recent novels such as Gun Machine and Normal (which is probably one of the funniest books I read in 2016, and one of the most prophetic). I haven’t had to delve too far into these new works because I’ve read each as they’ve come out and are fresh in my memory. And to be blunt, I don’t really have to read the old comics and books, either. I’m just doing it because I love them.
The one thing I’ve noticed in the preparation of this essay is how much Ellis has seeped into my own work over the past decade. Currently I’m working on two separate long projects (I know, I should only be working on one, but I’m the type of writer who’s been conditioned by freelance work and having to work on multiple projects at a time. Plus, the fact is I get bored, so juggling multiple projects is the best way for me to keep myself interested in writing.). Both projects are best described as science fiction, both are somewhat politically motivated (Another little something I’ve rediscovered about myself, I am very much a political creature and I tend to become more creative and motivated when I feel repressed and downtrodden. You know, being American.), but in the same breath, I don’t consider them science fiction because I’m utilizing crime and romance fiction tropes in both along with the other elements and stirring and mixing them up.
No, this is nothing new, it’s nothing ground breaking, it’s all things Warren Ellis and dozens of writers have employed over the last fifty years. But the thing is, when I read through my pages from the day before (One piece is being written entirely on the computer, the second—which I tend to work on the most—is being written on yellow legal notepads with occasional notes in a loose outline I keep stored on my hard drive.), I’ve begun to notice that the style I’m working in is becoming increasingly weirder, Ellis-esque, so to speak, and that this strange Englishman has become, perhaps, the storyteller who has influenced my work the most. And the fact is, I like it, I flat out love it because it’s encouraging me to get as weird and irreverent as I want while still crafting a highly readable story.
At least that’s what I hope I’m doing?