When I started writing Hollow Pike in 2009, I’m happy to admit I drew inspiration from various sources. Who doesn’t? I mean, how can you not be inspired? The whole writing saga started when I used to borrow YA books from the Year 6s of Middle Street Primary in Brighton, where I was teaching at the time. I remember reading Noughts and Crosses, Twilight, The Declaration and being blown away by the imagination and scope. Throw in my long-standing love for His Dark Materials and knew that I wanted to write YA.
From that starting point, it was actually film and television that mainly inspired Hollow Pike. I think it wears its roots on its sleeve, but I feel these were the main inspirations behind the novel.
- 1. Twin Peaks: I came to this late, long after it had finished its first showing on TV. I urge anyone who hasn’t seen this to track down a DVD boxset. For me, it’s the best TV show ever made. Created by visionary writer/director David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive), no other show mixes terror, suspense and humour in quite the same way. Borrowed from Lynch I suppose were the rural, isolated setting of Hollow Pike and the high-school murder mystery. Moreover, what I love about Twin Peaks is that you never really know if what you see is supernatural or not…
- Heathers / Mean Girls: Depending on your generation, one or both of these comedies are probably among your favourites. Heathers is a lot blacker than Mean Girls, but both raise the bar in terms of razor-sharp dialogue, and each are endlessly quotable. Both, I suppose, have the underdogs plotting revenge against the high school bitches, a key theme in Hollow Pike.
- Buffy The Vampire Slayer:The TV series, not the film, obviously. What I loved about Buffy was the way it used monsters and demons as metaphors for the perils of adolescence. Episodes like The Pack and Earshot so clearly use teen angst as a starting point – the monsters are by-the-by. Again, I think a lot of people forget how funny the series was too – the dialogue whips along, and much like Hollow Pike, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
- Scooby-Doo: No seriously. The gang in Buffy also referred to themselves as the Scooby Gang, and I used to same character archetypes. Using the Freddie, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy stereotypes allowed me to clearly work out which of the Hollow Pike gang would say which lines, and how they would react in each situation.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: Last year I blogged about why this was my favourite horror film of all time. Lis’s dreams are a big part of Hollow Pike, and this film really examined why nightmares are so terrifying – the loss of control and the blurring of the rules of reality. In a dream, the normal horror tropes of ‘get out of the front door!’ or ‘call the police!’ no longer count for anything.
- Scream: Another Wes Craven entry, but I wanted to include some Kevin Williamson too. The Dawson’s Creek/Vampire Diaries showrunner writes such clean, smart, fresh dialogue for his teenage characters and always gives them rare intelligence. Critics of Scream and Dawson’s Creek said they characters spoke older than their years – but when else are you trying to impress people with your vocabulary than as an adolescent? Scream was the first horror film to acknowledge young people watch horror, and Lis and co are fully aware of the conventions of the genre.
- The Craft: This 90s cult classic was very similar to the current series The Secret Circle (which I always think sounds like a incontinence product). In fact, I wonder if The Craft wasn’t inspired by the LJ Smith novels. The Craft more than TSC, however, uses witchcraft as a metaphor for the ‘outsiderness’ of the characters, something which I pinched for Hollow Pike.
So there you go. I do hope Hollow Pike is more than just a sum of its parts. Bringing something fresh and new to the crowded YA market is difficult, but I like to think that the characters in Hollow Pike are all mine! I believe their voices are what makes Hollow Pike a little bit special. I like to think it might be also be tricky to pigeon hole Hollow Pike – part dark romance, part teen noir…it’s not about vampires or fallen angels. I leave it up to you to decide if it’s even about witches…