Pop-Culture references. We love ‘em. Movies and TV shows reference each other all the time nowadays, and even music gets into the act from time-to-time. It may be the modern way people use to find their tribe. ‘Hey, did you get that reference?’ we may be subtly asking each other. ‘Do you know that show, movie, song, or celebrity event that just happened?’ We all want to know if we’re in-the-know.
Writing a book is a rather solitary activity. It’s just you in front of your computer, typing away, trying to come up with something inspired. As fun as writing can be, it can also get a little tedious, at times. So you find ways to amuse yourself. I put it in all kinds of references my readers may or may not get. For those that do, it’s a subtle wink to my audience. ‘Did you see what I did there?’ As I write, I’m trying to make a connection with an unseen, future, reader. I hope you enjoy all the subtle and not-so-subtle nods to other stories, I really love.
Let’s start with my biggest literary influence.
STAR WARS: A LONG TIME AGO…in a place not-so-far-away, my 8 or 9-year old self saw Star Wars on TV for the first time. I LOVED it. Being transported to that galaxy far, far away launched an imagination that has served me well for writing fiction. It is hard to understate what a huge influence George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan (screenwriter of Empire Strikes Back) have had on me, though they write movies and I write books. Here are a few places where Star Wars shows up in Noble: A Faerie Tale.
In chapter IV, the oak tree says, “No, stay. Help you, I will,” mimicking Yoda, from Empire Strikes Back.
In chapter VI, when we meet Nicodemus, he is described as Obi-Wan Kenobi. In fact, I was looking at a picture of Alec Guinness while I was writing that character description. He gives Lucas his sword, in a similar manner as Obi-Wan does Luke’s lightsaber. He also begins Lucas’ training as a Druid. And remember, Nicodemus is a Magi (Jedi?).
The title for chapter IX is “You Must Learn the Ways of the Druid.” This mimics Obi-Wan in A New Hope, telling Luke, “you must learn the ways of the Force, if you’re to come with me to Alderran.” In fact, originally that chapter title was a much longer “You Must Learn the Ways of the Druid…If You’re to Rescue the Princess,” before I decided to trim it down a bit.
Again in chapter VI, Nicodemus says to Lucas, “Hello, there.” Again, a not-so subtle nod to Alec Guinness. At the beginning of chapter VIII, when Lucas wakes up from having blacked out at the end of the previous chapter, Nicodemus says, “Rest easy, young man, you’ve had a busy day.” Do I even need to spell that one out? We know the line.
At the end of the book, when Lucas finally faces Thanatos, the villain’s insistence on formality and honor echoes the culture of the Jedi, which George Lucas modeled on the ancient samurai warriors.
Both Lucas and Thanatos are shown being able to retrieve weapons, and other items, in the same manner as a Jedi reaches for their lightsaber, or other objects.
During the sword fight between Lucas and Diablos, Lord Diablos asks Lucas, “you’ve master Fýr style.” This is in reference to the numerous lightsaber fighting styles that are present in the Star Wars universe.
Harry Potter: Surely, an avid Potterhead, such as myself, can’t resist a few references to the famous boy wizard? Indeed, I can’t. Let’s take a look at a few.
Both Harry Potter and Lucas have latent magical powers they don’t understand, but then are shown what they are, and given training to learn how to use their gift.
Although Lucas, himself, does not use a wand, Nicodemus and Thanatos both do.
Both Lucas and Harry Potter are boys who lived, though the circumstances of their cheating death are different.
Harry Potter has a scar that marks him as different. Lucas has his birthmark.
Oisin and Niahm: This one won’t be known to most people outside of Ireland, but there are several not-so-subtle nods to this Irish tale. First, the story, for those who are not familiar with it.
Oisin was an Irishman who lived way back in ancient Ireland, long before the coming of St Patrick. One day, Oisin was at one of Ireland’s many, beautiful lakes when a faerie princess emerged from the water, riding on white horse. The young girl’s name was Niahm, and Oisin fell instantly in love with her. Right then and there, he asked Niahm to marry him. The faerie girl agreed, and Oisin rode with Niahm on her horse back into the lake and to the Otherworld.
While in the faerie world, Oisin and Niahm were married and had many children. Years passed in the land of faerie, but hundreds more in the mortal world. One day, Oisin grew to miss Ireland, and longed to return. Niahm warned him not to, but Oisin wouldn’t listen. Finally, she agreed, and gave him her horse to travel on, but offered a dire warning. She told him that he must stay on his horse, for if his feet ever again touch Irish soil, he would instantly age the hundreds of years that have passed in his world. Oisin thanked her for the good advice, then left to return to Ireland. While back in the world of mortals, Oisin forgot Niahm’s warning, and dismounted to pick a flower. As soon as his feet touched Ireland, he, as Niahm had warned, aged the hundreds of years he would have had he stayed on the Emerald Isle.
In one version of the tale, he was discovered, somehow not dead yet, by St Patrick, himself, who took care of him during his final days. Allegedly, Oisin told St Patrick all the old stories of Ireland, which is how we know about them today.
Lucas’ village is called Oisin, and Princess Stefanie is of the House of Niahm. Stefanie rides a white horse. Lucas falls in love with her. The two are married at the end of the story.
Ever After: A Cinderella Story: I actually listened to the soundtrack to his movie quite a lot while writing the book. There are several references to this movie, but in reverse, of course.
Like Prince Henry, Princess Stefanie “suffers from an arranged marriage.” The argument she has with her father, the king, is similar to that which Henry has with King Francis. Like Henry, Stefanie does not love who she is betrothed to, and does not wish to marry him. Also, in both instances, the king is making his kid marry in order to form an alliance with another kingdom.
In both stories, the King offers their son or daughter a deal, so that they can marry who they choose. Francis tells Prince Henry he can have a month to find his own bride. Josef tells Stefanie she can have a month to decide between Phillip and Sir Luke.
Both Danielle (Cinderella) and Lucas have a scene where they are unmasked, and shown to be lowly peasants. Danielle is outed by her wicked stepmother, and Lucas has his spell worn off, revealing the peasant boy underneath.
Finally, and this one is personal to me, when I read the book, I hear the voice of the actor who played King Francis when I read Josef’s lines. I also picture that actor in my head. He is who I see as King Josef. You may see someone else entirely when you read it.
Cinderella: Well, duh? Of course there are references to Cinderella, and I don’t really need to point them out. But there is one really subtle, blink-and-you-might-miss-it, reference you may not have caught. On page 45, “Lucas awoke, cinder from the hearth smudged on his face.” It’s one line. One tiny homage to the little, cinder girl.
History of the World, Part I: Stefanie’s horse is names “Miracle.” You can laugh now, if you’ve seen the movie.
The Princess Bride: One of my favorite faerie tale movies EVER!
Both Stefanie and Buttercup threaten suicide, at one point, though I daresay Buttercup is a lot more serious about it.
Both Stefanie and Buttercup attempt save the one they love from certain death; Buttercup by going with Humperdink if he promised to return Westley to his ship; and Stefanie by suggesting the sword fight to Lord Diablos.
The tile of the last chapter: True Love is the Greatest Thing in the World. Of course we also know that an MLT (mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich) pulls in a very close second.
Are there any others you noticed, which I have forgotten, or put in without even knowing it? Tell me in the comments.