Influences and Inspirations

Some influential books in the making of Knight Watch

*Disclaimer: none of this implies an endorsement on the part of the authors mentioned. I just want to outline the writers and works that influenced me while I was writing Knight Watch.

Let’s take a moment to look at the formation of a book. Specifically, the formation of Knight Watch, my seventh novel and the first in a new series. Knight Watch is somewhat different from my previous books, and I thought it would be helpful to examine the influences and inspirations that formed the book in my head. The above image tells most of the story, but I’d like to unpack these things a little bit for you, my loving audience.

First, Correia’s Monster Hunter International. For those of you who don’t know, MHI is all about a secret, non-Governmental organization who hunts and kills monsters for fun and profit. I’m a big fan of the series. It’s got a lot of the things I love in a book: violence, secret histories, cool monsters, bad-ass operators, more violence, and a healthy dollop of humor. There are times in Knight Watch when MHI’s influence is only thinly disguised. Especially the violent parts. The public facing pitch for Knight Watch has always been “Men in Black goes to the Ren Faire” but the pitch I gave Jim Minz (my editor at Baen) the first time we talked was “This is MHI for sword nerds and gamers.” And I think that holds. So if you like MHI and swords, you’re going to find a lot to like in Knight Watch, and vice versa.

Secondly, Butcher’s Dresden series. I think one of the things that makes Dresden so popular is how grounded it is in the real world. Harry is just a guy who happens to be a wizard. He’s relatable, and he’s funny, and we get a kick out of exploring the world with him. That’s what I was trying to do with John Rast, the hero of Knight Watch. John’s just a guy who wants to be a hero in a knightly tale, and then quite suddenly he is, and the world kind of falls apart around him. He’s funny, he’s relatable, and you’re going to enjoy exploring the Unreal world with him.

Finally, PG Wodehouse. This one might not seem to fit with the above examples, but let me explain why it’s a central influence on the book. You see, while I’m certainly a grimdark guy, going back to before that was even a phrase people used, I’m also a goof. I like absurdist and gallows humor, I like puns, I like wordplay. Frankly, I like joy, and there’s not enough of that in the genre. And the main reason for that is PG Wodehouse. Because while everyone else’s parents were reading them bedtime stories, my dad was reading me Wodehouse. From a very early age I was acquainted with Blandings, and Bertie, and Jeeves. I grew up in their company. That dry British wit has been written into my DNA. Maybe that’s why I’ve had such success in the UK (five of my first six books were published by British houses, and all of my short fiction appeared in Interzone). So while Knight Watch is all about monster hunting and clever heroes, it’s also about joy.

That’s the list. I hope Knight Watch brings you the same joy reading it as it brought me writing it.

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