Midnight at the Neon Tiger was born from a variety of my favorite things, smashed haphazardly together to create a sci-fi novel that I, a picky sci-fi reader, would love. The first thing that popped into my head was X-Men. I knew I wanted to write something based around that general concepts. Mutants in a city where they aren’t fully accepted. That was the basic concept.
The influences surrounding that concept came from everywhere.
The retrofuturism of the Bioshock games, for example, was a huge influence on my creation of Neon Tiger’s world. I LOVE the aesthetic of Rapture, the setting for Bioshock 1 and 2.
I also love anything noir. Classic noir films like Gilda and The Big Sleep have always influenced my writing, so I combined my love of noir and my love of the Bioshock series and made the city of Polaris, a once-great metropolis cowed by nuclear war and the radioactive bomb sitting in the middle of it.
Selene, my main character, was inspired in personality by the femme fatales and film noir past, but in appearance, I had only one person in mind…
Yoohyeon from one of my favorite K-pop groups, Dreamcatcher. Specifically in the video for their absolute banger of a song, “You & I.”
When I saw Yoohyeon with that gray hair, I knew Selene had to have gray hair, too. In fact, Dreamcatcher is one of my main inspirations for the novel as a whole. I love their goth rock image, their powerful music and dancing. I wanted to imbue that same kind of feeling into Neon Tiger, and it all started with the music video for “You & I.”
In addition to music and movies, a variety of books inspired me as well, chief among them being the incomparable Jade City by Fonda Lee. It helped me envision a sci-fi/fantasy novel that didn’t have to take place in a distant future or an ancient past. It’s also just a really great book overall. Read Jade City by Fonda Lee.
Aside from the inspirations and influences listed here, I have a ton of others I could rattle off: Greek and Roman mythology, La Noire, the Fallout series, The Godfather, and so much more. Midnight at the Neon Tiger is simply the noir YA sci-fi I’ve always wanted, the sci-fi I’ve always been too afraid to write. Until now.