What?!!!  JFC Fuller (1878-1966) was a British military man and later military historian, most noted for his contributions to the development of tank warfare towards the end of World War One (which finally ended the murderous stalemate in the trenches), and the authorship of several notable books on warfare and history, including Armament and History; The Generalship of Alexander the Great; Julius Caesar:  Man, Soldier, and Tyrant; The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant; Grant and Lee:  A Study in Personality and Generalship; and A Military History of the Western World (in three volumes).  Certainly a product of his times in terms of worldview and Western-centric perspectives, and often accused of being unduly opinionated in his interpretations of historical events, not to mention his flirtation with British Fascism in the 1930s, Fuller was nonetheless a military genius with a powerful (if subjective) intellect, a sweeping view of history, and a mastery of the intricate connections between men, machines, technical processes, political and economic methods, and culture.  For whatever reason, as a teenager through my early twenties, I was fascinated by military history, and Fuller was, for me, far and away the most engaging authority on the topic.  He brought to life the rise and fall of civilizations, the clashes of ideas and life-ways throughout history, and the role of great personalities and minds in the struggles between nations, kingdoms, and empires for the future of regions and later, the entire earth.  The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once stated: "We must know that war is common to all, and that strife [in its form of opposites working against each other but in balance] is the foundation of the order of the Universe, and that all things come into being through strife necessarily."  If one grants these words of his any credibility at all, then the human expression of strife through war, and the organization of societies and technologies around the object of surviving this reality, become comprehensible and significant matters of study.  In The March of the Eccentrics, powerful empires (the U.S., which has become a dictatorship, and the Soviet Union, which has remained one) struggle for mastery of the world as well as for continued control of their own populations; and the free spirits and freedom lovers of the earth, while clinging to their love of pacifist heroes such as Gandhi and Thoreau, and spiritual teachers and philosophers who have been attempting to find a way out of the recurring human nightmare, are driven to seek ways to preserve their lives and liberty in the world as it is (until it can be brought to a higher level).  Thus, the Eccentrics form their own military strategy for survival, based upon amazing new high-tech weapons and the techniques necessary to utilize them.  Without a doubt, the influence of JFC Fuller shows through in the way this futuristic combat force is put together and wielded on behalf of the nonconformists of the world, otherwise slated for extinction...



If a man of war has been a major influence on the development of my novel, so has a man of spirit, the renowned Japanese Buddhist scholar and Zen practitioner Suzuki Daisetsu Teitaro, or Daisetz (D.T.) Suzuki, (1870 - 1966).  Apparently an imperfect man as well (never read the full biography of anyone you admire!), Suzuki wrote innumerable articles and books about Zen Buddhism for the benefit of Westerners.  I remember, in particular, Introduction to Zen Buddhism (with a foreword by Carl Jung), Zen and Japanese Culture (my favorite), and The Essentials of Zen Buddhism, edited by Bernard Phillips (I was accused by the librarian of ruining it by either immersing it in water or leaving it out in the rain, but the truth was I borrowed it in that condition - lucky by the time the accusation was made, I had read enough of the contents to be balanced in my response).  Japanese culture had always interested me, from early childhood on (since my 3rd-grade crush on Yukiko X), and over the years I had increased this love with works such as 100 Poems from the Japanese (edited and translated by Kenneth Rexroth), An Introduction to Haiku (with translations and commentary by Harold Henderson), The Tale of Genji (translated by Arthur Waley), The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (translated and edited by Ivan Morris), Tales of Ise (translated, with an introduction and notes by Helen Craig McCullough), and Secrets of the Samurai:  A Survey of the Martial Arts of Feudal Japan (by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook); not to leave out Kurosawa's brilliant film, The Seven Samurai.  Now there was D.T. Suzuki.  What Suzuki did for me was to bring the whole, clear vision of the Zen Universe into my consciousness like a flash of light, somehow finding just the right words, the right metaphors, and the right stories to turn on the nonverbal hardware of perception and comprehension (which are at the root of the Zen experience) in my own mind, and suddenly opening up to me a whole new sensibility and way of relating to existence and reality.  Not to be pretentious -- I am in no way, at the time I write these words, a liberated being -- but I was greatly enriched by the contact and am still hopeful of better integrating the insights that came as a result of this contact into the deeper levels of my soul, from which perceptions, actions, and the experienced reality of life come.   In the meantime, Suzuki's influence has played a major role in the development of various scenes and stories in The March of the Eccentrics. You will find his influence in some of the thoughts and actions of Yuki Onomatsu, the crazy ganguro genius, and in the spiritual struggle of Ellen S. Abu to rise above her imagined limitations and become a fuller, more complete human being.



Bernard Heuvelmans (1916-2001), the French-born, Belgian-raised zoologist turned 'father of cryptozoology' is among the greatest influences in my life.  This may seem quite shocking at first when you consider the fact that cryptozoology is the serious scientific study of 'unknown' creatures, these being animals whose reputed existence by some has never been officially confirmed by the scientific community as a whole, or else animals believed by authorities to now be extinct, but which some individuals claim may yet live on.  (But once you get to know me better, and come to realize how strange I truly am, the surprise goes away.  Of course I would be a devotee of cryptozoology!)  Among the creatures ripe for study in this controversial field are the Yeti (or Abominable Snowman) of the Himalayas, the Orang Pendek (a smallish ape man) of Sumatra, the Minhocao (a giant armadillo-like creature) of Brazil, the Giant Ground Sloth of Patagonia, and various extant forms of dinosaurs which might (but not necessarily) include the 'Loch Ness Monster', the Mokele-mbembe of the Congo, and the Kongamato of Zambia and Zimbabwe.  At a time when this field was more the realm of adventurers and explorers, keen to collect stories and always partial to excitement, than of actual scientists intimately familiar with zoological history and the biological frameworks which explain the behavior and attributes of species, Bernard Heuvelmans came along with an incredible scientific rigor and attention to detail capable of lifting these colorful tales out of the category of folklore and placing them upon the table of serious intellectual consideration.  The result was an amazing new fusion of meticulousness and passion, reality and fairy tale, painstaking scrutiny and enthusiastic grail-quest which proved irresistible to many (including myself).  It seemed in some ways as though the gap between our hearts and minds, between our need to feel we live in a world of wonder and our need to cut our ties to myths, could be bridged by this marvelous new field.  For years, I was the sole user of our library's copy of Heuvelmans' On the Track of Unknown Animals.  I would take out the book, renew it till I could renew it no more, then, impelled by guilt, leave it on the shelves for a week or two before (having given others the chance to enjoy it also) I would take it out again.  Just to have it around me was magical; it transformed the nature of my room, made my walls seem farther apart, my ceiling higher, the bridge I could see outside of my window shine more brightly.  Imagine my delight when my library also acquired Heuvelmans' In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents! Now, not only the land, but also the seas could serve as a medium for resuscitating my fallen awe.  In The March of the Eccentrics, cryptozoology and cryptozoologists (such as Reginald Smythe) play a major role, bringing this quasi-spiritual ardor which embodies our human drive to always expand ourselves, to the pages of the novel; men seeking dinosaurs meet men liberating countries, men seeking Yetis meet others seeking spiritual understanding and world peace.  In the end, are their endeavors truly so far apart?  (For more on my views of cryptozoology, see .) 



Seumas MacManus (1869-1960), was an Irish writer and storyteller who, arising from poor roots, went on to perform great literary deeds for his people and all interested others, preserving many of the tales, oral traditions and color of the Irish past in his  works.  I encountered him through his historical masterpiece, The Story of the Irish Race, which made no effort to be 'objective' or 'scholarly' in the modern sense, yet gathered together a wealth of knowledge about Ireland's past - its kings and queens, its heroes, its martyrs, its enemies, its customs, values, and sensibilities, all presented in the most captivating language, which was simultaneously complex and delightful.  Truly, in this book, the learnedness and charm of Ireland at its best came through:  the spirit of a mesmerizing character spinning a yarn without compromising any of the depth of the tale.  I fell in love with MacManus' style, nuances of which occasionally slipped into my own writing, at the same time that my slowly increasing connection with the Irish portion of my heritage was furthered by it.  Now, in addition to the wonderful songs of the Clancy Brothers, Wolfe Tones, and Dubliners (which were history lessons in and of themselves), the brilliant poetry of William Butler Yeats, and my studies of the bitter struggle taking place in the North of Ireland, I had MacManus to lead me back to my roots.  Take a look at this little snippet, one of those most quoted to provide the uninitiated with a taste of this author's soul (here he speaks of Irish stories and the way they were in the past presented):  "These tales were made not for reading but for telling.  They were made and told for the passing of long nights, for the shortening of weary journeys, for entertaining of traveler-guests, for brightening of cabin hearths.  Be not content with reading them...  [Say them aloud!]"  As readers of The March of the Eccentrics will see, there is a strong Irish slant to much that goes on in the novel, from the special relationship the protagonist Julius Abu has with Ireland, to the prevalence of Irish fighters in his private army, to the importance of Irish causes and perspectives in the Eccentric universe, to the nature and act of the storytelling itself.  If I have never myself kissed the blarney stone, it has still somehow found a way to reach me... maybe a piece of it flew off and landed on me in my sleep?  Or maybe it is just the influence of MacManus and others of his soul family, celebrated or invisible, acting on some inherited receptiveness that knows where home is, and is now called forth to keep the hearth by which stories are told lit...