I helped my brother with his essay for school this weekend - he's much smarter than I am and in no way NEEDS my help, but he lacks organization - and it got me thinking about something. His poly sci class is discussing The Odyssey and to our mutual amusement, we realized we'd been talking about Odysseus and his adventures, in some form or other, since childhood.
While Mom was showering us with Disney princesses, coloring books and Playskool toys, Dad was counteracting that with epic Greek poetry and books thick as our heads about the Roman deities. When I was four, he let me watch Tales of the Crypt with him (and oh, were there ever nightmares) then it was Star Wars and the black and white monster classics. All those old Sinbad flicks. I've not met anyone else who knows who Ray Harryhausen is, but his work was a given reference between my dad, my brother and me by the time we were elementary age.
As I proofread my brother's essay, I started wondering how much my imagination was influenced by "old friends" like Odysseus. I'm writing romance now, and my dad said I'd "betrayed my genre", but I like to think that the Trojan War and the heros' trip home, the One Ring and the Force, The Valley of Gwanji and The Creature From the Black Lagoon all lent a hand in the formation of my creativity.