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Uncovering Inspiration | The Stories Beyond Books

By Brandon Sturak

Stories are important to our world. They give us inspiration, hope, teach us lessons, and of course, keep us entertained. The more “pragmatic” among us may write off stories as just stories and nothing more, but to me, they’re a source of passion, something that gives me life and drives me forward.

There are books of all sizes and styles that are beloved by people all around the world. The art of writing is a craft that’s been developing since the dawn of civilization, thousands of years ago. As a writer, text-on-the-page stories are an aspect of life that’s invaluable to me.

That said, there are more to stories than just books.While they’re undoubtedly a crucial piece of the field of storytelling, in today’s age, we have more access and exposure to stories than ever before. 

Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed reading, but it’s not something I always have done regularly. At points, I would read a book or finish a series, then not read anything else seriously for months at a time. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t experiencing incredible stories.


I’m a nerd and I’m a gamer. Growing up, I absolutely loved Star Wars and Lord of the Ring, two epic franchises beloved by so many millions of people around the world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the movies, and still will find myself watching them now and again even today. Along with that, I’ve played through more games than I can count, exploring different worlds, universes, and settings in general that captivated me for hours.

These experiences helped me beyond a doubt to shape my love of stories and the way I perceive them.

One of my most prominent inspirations is Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online series (both the novel and animated versions), no surprise considering the content of Imperium: Adventure Reality. While there are ups and downs within the series, I find that there’s so much to love within it, from characters to plots, and if you look for it, you’ll find deeper questions that really are ones that I tackle in my own special way in I:AR.

Final Fantasy 14 (FFXIV), on the other hand, is the game that helped me to visualize my own created world of Valtio. It’s an MMORPG I’ve spent well over 1,000 hours in and is remarkable to me because of how gorgeously they tie in a well-crafted story into a cool universe that fosters such a vibrant community of players. There were a lot of takeaways I have from FFXIV, and if you’re familiar with the game, you’ll probably see some influences of it throughout my book.

Of course, those are two of the largest sources of inspiration I drew from, but they’re certainly not all. Isuna Hasekura’s Spice & Wolf is a novel series dear to my heart due to the dynamics between its two main characters, Lawrence and Holo, which helped me create Max and Amaya’s relationship in several ways. I’ve talked about it in my audio interview with WMP too, but Dungeons & Dragons was beyond huge for me with learning how to create unique characters and understand their minds, and world and narrative building in general. I won’t go on and on with every other little inspiration I have, but some other honorable mentions, so to speak, are George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, Mamare Touno’s Log Horizon, Kugane Maruyama’s Overlord, Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, and the games RuneScape and Final Fantasy Tactics.

There are so many stories out there that capture hearts, especially nowadays. In my previous blog post, I talked about how I had a rather unique path to becoming an author, and I credited it largely to not just reading books, but to paying attention to and immersing myself in the equally-as-beautiful stories from video games, movies, and shows.

At the end of the day, we all have stories we love. And we each have our own path in life. And, most importantly, we all have a story to tell. No matter how or when or why you choose to tell yours, it’s valuable and it’s worthwhile, remember that.

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