Shunga-Satori: Behind The Scenes With 'Shunga-Satori', Pt. 3: The Influences

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2023-04-12 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

To commemorate the release of my new novel Shunga-Satori, I'll be making a series of posts to serve as an extended introduction to the book — its origins, its influences, its themes, its setting and characters. Enjoy.

(See all entries in this series here.)

Back in Part Two of this series, I talked about the bare idea behind Shunga-Satori, and the general outlines of the story it inspired. Here, I'm going to dive into some of the other media that influenced how Shunga-Satori took shape and direction.

Note that this is not an exhaustive list; for all I know, there may well be others I wasn't even aware of as I was writing the book. But they are the most significant ones.

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Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast / Boy In Darkness

Ask a dozen fans of fantasy fiction if they known of Mervyn Peake and Gormenghast, and you'll be lucky if even one of them remembers hearing the name. A shame, because his sardonic-gothic fantasy is a great example of how the label fantasy can be about more than just whatever mushrooms sprung up in Tolkien's shade. I read Boy In Darkness as part of an anthology called The Inner Landscape, and from there went on to read the Gormenghast books proper. They all exuded an atmosphere of a world that had fallen into permanent disrepute and decay, and that atmosphere lingered with me long after the events of the books had faded.

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Ridley Scott's Legend

Co-written by Angel Heart scribe William Hjortsberg, it took decades for a proper version of Scott's dark fairytale to reach audiences, in the director's cut now most widely available on disc. I admire more the spirit and vision behind the film (again, most visible in the director's cut) than the movie itself. That haunting fairytale atmosphere stuck with me even when the story didn't. Some part of me wanted to take that atmosphere and repurpose it for something entirely different.

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The Cell

I originally disdained this mash-up of The Matrix and Silence Of The Lambs, but it's held up a lot better than I expected it to. And again, a big part of it is the visionary inner universe of one of the main character's minds, with glorious production design and seething symbolism.

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The films of the Brothers Quay

I am thinking most specifically of Street Of Crocodiles, their hypnotic stop-motion tribute to the writings of Bronu Schulz. Again, the decaying atmosphere, and the feeling of spaces that entered into and emerged from absolute darkness. What sort of story would emerge from such places?

The art of Ryoichi Yoshida and Hans Bellmer

Funny how I can be influenced by someone's work even when I'm repelled by it. Hans Bellmer was most (in)famous for his dolls, and dollmaker Ryoichi Yoshida took many of the same aesthetics and applied updated dollmaking techniques and Japanese aesthetics to them. But as with Peake's books, the results lingered in mind, and a couple of Yoshida's haunting creations cried out to be interpreted as characters.

Next installment I'll talk about how all these blended with my existing material to create the story I have now.

Tags: Behind The Scenes: Shunga-Satori Infinimata Press Shunga-Satori ideas influences writing