NENOREMO BONUS CONTENT
Please welcome Samantha Lienhard, a buddy from grad school and fellow writer/gamer. In honor of Finish Him’s release, she’s here today giving a different take on how video games can inspire the writing process. Share and enjoy!
How Professor Layton Inspired My Horror Story
by Samantha Lienhard
I’m both a writer and a gamer, so it’s no surprise video games often inspire my writing ideas. The idea for the zombie virus in The Accidental Zombie was sparked by Resident Evil, the references to yokai in Ace Attorney led to all of my yokai-themed stories, Professor Layton helped me complete my short horror story “Sand,” and—
Yes. Even though “Sand” is filled with Lovecraftian horror, it wouldn’t be published if not for a cute, family-friendly puzzle series known as Professor Layton.
“Sand” was published in December 2014, but I wrote the first draft several years earlier. You wouldn’t recognize it as the same story. It had a different structure, setting, and even viewpoint character.
The original draft followed James as he watched an old classmate, Algernon P. Lewis, succumb to madness after a trip to the Eureka Dunes. Haunted by music he claimed to have heard there, Algernon believed sand was going to kill him.
I wrote it, polished it, and tried unsuccessfully to get it published. I revised it and tried again. And again. The problem was, “Sand” wasn’t scary. At all. And no matter how much tension I tried to add, something about it just didn’t work.
I finally accepted I had to rewrite the entire story from scratch—and tell it from Algernon’s viewpoint this time.
Now, when I write, I like to have background music. I’d just finished playing Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, the sixth and final game in the Professor Layton series, so it was on my mind. I put my favorite Layton song, Descole’s Theme, on repeat and started to write.
This time, I structured “Sand” as Algernon’s diary. And with Descole’s music in the background, Algernon changed. Gone was the banker from the original draft. In his place rose up a researcher devoted to uncovering the secrets of the lost Anaian civilization. With this at its core, an entirely new version of “Sand” formed, and this was the version accepted a few weeks later by The Mad Scientist Journal.
So, are the Anaian people the Azran?
Of course not. Professor Layton’s Azran civilization was an ancient culture of highly-advanced people, while the Anaia from “Sand” were an inhuman society that worshiped eldritch gods. The Anaia did not come from Professor Layton—but the idea did.
Without Professor Layton, Algernon would not be a researcher. There would not be an ancient civilization with mysteries for him to unearth. Algernon would have continued life as a banker who got into some generic Lovecraftian trouble, and his story would probably still be unpublished.
And so, baffling though it may sound, it’s the simple truth:
Professor Layton inspired my horror story.
Samantha's publications include a horror/comedy novella called The Accidental Zombie, a Lovecraftian novella called The Book at Dernier, and a short horror story called "Rokurokubi," among others. When she isn't writing, she can probably be found playing video games. Her gaming tastes are varied, and conversations with her might jump from the latest story-driven RPG to a game about dating birds. You have been warned.
Find Samantha online:
Thanks again, Sam, for stopping by!