Guest Post: “Who are your influences?”by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Any artist of any stripe gets asked this question, and I know for me, it’s always challenging to come up with a coherent answer. My influences come from so many places, different mediums. It all filters into my head and percolates in my subconscious to create the sweet, dark brew that I write. It’s not always easy to say, “That, that’s where that comes from.”
However, in the case of The Holver Alley Crew, it’s pretty easy. Not the heist-story influences, though many of those are probably pretty evident. No, I’m talking about the influence on the feel of the book; its soul.
“Have you got soul? Then Dublin’s hardest working band is looking for you.”
The Commitments is possibly one of my favorite movies ever. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you stop right now and go find it on Netflix or something and dig in.
All right, back?
The Commitments is full of the sense of place that I wanted to capture with The Holver Alley Crew, as well as the sense of desperate people coming together to form a group to achieve something greater as a team than they ever could individually. Of course, in The Holver Alley Crew they’re coming together for crime and revenge, rather than music—but the spirit is the same.
Because they’re people who life has beat down, and in coming together, in doing something, they give themselves hope.
“You’re missin’ the point. The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.”
It’s a movie where the impoverished and rundown Dublin is very much the main character. People know each other, they support each other—unless they’re screaming at each other and trying to crack their skulls open. There’s pride in where they’re from, even if it’s a s***heap, because it’s their s***heap. This is what I tried to invoke in creating the West Maradaine neighborhood of North Seleth.
My Holver Alley characters—the Rynax brothers, the Kesser cousins, Kennith, Mila and Almer—they’ve been discarded and stepped on throughout their lives, especially after the fire that destroys Holver Alley.
And, of course, for them, the heists and thieving is their art. It’s as much what they do and how they express themselves as the music is for the band in The Commitments.
Soul is the music people understand. Sure it’s basic and it’s simple. But it’s something else ’cause, ’cause, ’cause it’s honest, that’s it. It’s honest. There’s no f****’ bull****. It sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart. Sure there’s a lot of different music you can get off on but soul is more than that. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you … and lifts you above the s****.
And that’s what they’re doing for themselves in Holver Alley Crew—lifting themselves above. But, you know, with knives and crossbows instead of soul and song.
Courtesy of DAW, I have a copy of The Holver Alley Crew by Marshall Ryan Maresca for one (1) lucky winner!
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