This can be a 'chicken vs. egg' syndrome where one writer states they had an inspired idea that they then wrote about using various influences along the way to assist them tell their story. The other writer claims to have been inspired by seeing or reading someone else's work and then puts their pen to the page accordingly.
When I initially thought about writing The Zarulium Chronicles for a teen audience, I had been writing fiction for a more mature crowd. When I thought about where my strength might in young adult fiction, I quickly settled on science fiction, largely because I am a huge fan of the genre, having been so since about age seven.
My initial challenge was coming to terms with the fact that I know several people who know much more about science than I do, yet eventually, I convinced myself that despite their superior knowledge, none of them were story tellers, at least, I did not think they were.
Once I overcame this smaller hurdle, I faced a larger one in deciding what my particular sci-fi angle would be. That is, was I setting it far in the future, or just ahead a bit? Was I going to be fantastical or realistic? Would I try for one grand story, or several episodic ones?
Finally, I considered what was currently out there that my wife and children could tell me about, and I concluded that a series including or maybe focusing on time travel was the answer. That is, the great Star Wars series did not involve this sort of device, and while Star Trek did, and even did in the reboot from 2009; nevertheless, it was never more than an explored theme, and not a main one, except for the fourth film.
J.K. Rowling dabbled cleverly with time travel in her brilliant Potter series, but again, time travelling was more of a device she weaved into just her third of seven stories. This left me with the Back to the Future series as the only successful film series over the past few decades to promote time travel as its focus.
Of course, the reboot of Dr. Who has been very successful on television, and seems to be growing in popularity yearly, but it does seem to confine itself to television – I was to try writing novels, not teleplays.
I decided it was time to give time travel a revisit, and to make it a main theme of my work, but to weave in other themes that I hoped would appeal to younger adults.
As to influences, I might produce a shorter list to explain what has not influenced me, but I would rather not focus on negatives. Suffice to say that from the time I saw Planet of the Apes, first run in 1968, I was hooked on sci-fi, and this intensified by the decade, until the '90s at least.
That is, I gained a bit more mileage from the 'Apes' series in general; however, as an almost 17 year old in the early summer of 1977, I saw Star Wars like almost everyone else, and this forever influenced me, and probably everyone who wrote about sci-fi thereafter to date.
By the 1980s, sci-fi had the Star Trek series fully returned and expanded on TV, while at least a dozen other sci-fi & fantasy film series started up as well. By the '90s, the space-based series was probably more popular on TV. Film versions have made a comeback in the new millennium, likely due to significantly improved graphics. I would say my influences are far more late '60s to about 1990, and then much less after that.
Putting aside sci-fi influences now, I need to explain that for almost 20 years I was a theatre actor, and received a degree in Drama and English in 1989. This means that I studied far more literature that is dramatic in nature during my early years, than novel-based fiction.
I feel that because dramatic literature focuses on multiple characters rather than one protagonist, as the novel frequently does, that my character-driven novels are somewhat of a rarity. I prefer to create many intriguing characters, and to try to provide as many as possible, with important business in the stories.
Finally, as a tribute to specific works that I would encourage readers to investigate, I created the character Joe, who is a sci-fi & fantasy movie fan, and he frequently serves to alert readers that I owe a debt to various specific works from time to time.