This is a list of things (books, movies, music, etc.) that inspired me during the writing of Rider of the Black Horse and Preludes to a Nightmare. I think the list is more-less complete, although I might have forgotten a few things. I will update the list if I remember something that I forgot to include. Keep in mind that this list might spoil some minor things about Rider of the Black Horse, so I would advise against reading it until you've read the pentalogy.
For starters I should emphasize three of the sources of inspiration I had while writing the books because these contributed in a rather unique way.
1. The books of John Caldwell: I've already mentioned John Caldwell as one of the key inspirations in the Foreword of Emptiness, but I did not elaborate at the time that it was Caldwell's books that got me into reading lots of fantasy literature in the first place. Before reading any of his books I had read only two fantasy stories, both of which were good but not really special. (Truth is, I could not appreciate those two books until much later.). But when I read the Trilogy of Dawn and later the Trilogy of Night (published under the name Jeffrey Stone) I got truly interested in fantasy. Then I read Night of Chaos which I consider to be the single greatest fantasy parody of all time and then Word of Chaos and later each and every main story in Caldwell's Chaos series and there was no stopping there. If it hadn't been for Caldwell's awesome books I'm not sure I ever would have read Elric of Melnibone or played Eye of the Beholder (which got me interested in Baldur's Gate later). So, Caldwell's books not only gave me inspiration for Rider of the Black Horse, but his books pretty much started me off on the road to fantasy literature to begin with, and I would like to thank John Caldwell for that. Without him, this book would never have been written.
2. Song lyrics by Andy B. Franck, Roy Khan, and Thomas Youngblood: I also stated in the Foreword of Emptiness that music inspires me greatly. This is done in two ways. First, the overall music helps me set the mood for much of the scenes in the story. Second, in some occasions the lyrics of some songs inspire me directly. Such was the case with the songs I had mentioned earlier: the songs Inside The Monster, Heavenly, End In Sorrow, Beyond My Destiny, and Demonsion by Brainstorm, the songs Forever, When The Lights Are Down, and Memento Mori by Kamelot, and the song Two Seconds To Live by Symphorce were the most important inspirations. These songs inspired me in many ways, especially Inside the Monster, and the lyrics in particular gave me several ideas. Some specific scenes were directly inspired by the lyrics in these songs, and I'd like to thank Andy B. Franck, Roy Khan, and Thomas Youngblood for the inspirational lyrics they've written over the years.
3. The movies of Kevin Bacon: I have to start by saying that in my opinion Kevin Bacon is one of the greatest actors of all time. He brings a very special intensity and emotion to his roles that very few actors can do. Whether he plays a nice guy (like Val McKee in Tremors), or a villain (like Wade in The River Wild), or a controversial character (like Sebastian Caine in Hollow Man), or even a small but pivotal role (like the character Love in The Air I Breathe) he is always awesome and he always steals the show. Hollow Man is in fact one of my favorite movies of all time. All my life I've only watched three movies at the cinema more than once, and Hollow Man was the first. I watched it three times at the cinema, three weekends in a row, and would have gone a fourth time had time allowed it. And it's Kevin Bacon's performance in the movie that made me buy so many cinema tickets for this movie. He portrayed Sebastian Caine as a dark but tragic character, giving depth to a character that otherwise could have been quite one-dimensional, which is something few could have done with this character given what happens in the second half of the movie. The intensity, emotion, and overall complexity he brings to his performances -- especially in Hollow Man and Mystic River - inspired me greatly when I worked on the personality of the main protagonist of Rider of the Black Horse. Of course Jason Vogan is nothing like Sebastian Caine or Sean Divine, but I tried to capture the complexity and emotional depth of these characters, and I would like to think that I succeeded. (Truth is, if there was ever a movie made out of Rider of the Black Horse - it will never happen, but if it did -- then I would want to see Kevin Bacon in the role of Jason Vogan. For me personally it would be an honor and for the character of Jason Vogan this casting choice would guarantee that his character is given justice. I don't think anyone else could portray him the way Kevin Bacon could.) So, I'd like to thank Kevin Bacon simply for being an awesome actor, because watching his performances helped me write more developed, complex characters in my books.
Now, here is the more-less complete list I promised above.
Books: Elric of Melnibone (by Michael Moorcock), Word of Chaos (by John Caldwell), Night of Chaos (by John Caldwell and Jeffrey Stone), the Twins trilogy (by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman), the Fighting Fantasy books of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the books of P. Howard
Computer games: Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 including the expansion packs, Deathtrap Dungeon, Neverwinter Nights, the Doom games, Painkiller, Blood 2, Infernal, Spellforce
Movies: The Good The Bad And The Ugly (1966), Dirty Harry (1971), Commando (1985), Highlander (1986), Other People's Money (1991), Army Of Darkness (1992), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Demolition Man (1993), Falling Down (1993), Frauds (1993), The Crow (1994), Pulp Fiction (1994), Stargate (1994), Event Horizon (1997), Eye Of The Beholder (1999; Somebody please tell me why Ashley Judd and Ewan McGregor didn't get the academy award for this movie... And by the way, I have only four words for all the dumbass critics that didn't like this movie: go fuck yourselves, assholes!), House On Haunted Hill (1999), The Mummy (1999), Hollow Man (2000)The Way Of The Gun (2000), Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), The Salton Sea (2002), Mystic River (2003), Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003), The Rundown (2003), Underworld (2003), the Sin City movie (2005), Crank (2006), Postal the movie (2007), Shoot 'Em Up (2007), the Die Hard series, George A. Romero's zombie movies, every Bud Spencer and Terence Hill movie ever made, and whatever else I forgot about
Fictional characters: Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Duke Nukem, Jack Bauer, Mr. Chapel, The Punisher, The Postal Dude, Methos, the countless memorable characters of Babylon 5 (Sheridan, Garibaldi, Bester, G'Kar, Londo, and so on), John “Hannibal” Smith of the A-Team, the Three-headed Morgul, the ZF-1 from The Fifth Element movie, Paxton Fettel, Simon Campos, Mr. Bean
Cartoons, comics, and webzines: The Darkness, Transformers (especially Starscream), South Park, The Daily Victim
Actors, wrestlers, and internet critics: Kevin Bacon, Samuel L. Jackson, Edge, Randy Orton, C. M. Punk, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Big Show, the Undertaker, the Angry Video Game Nerd, the Nostalgia Critic, the Cinema Snob (By the way, Hooker With A Heart Of Gold was awesome!), Mr. Plinkett, Penn and Teller (It's so good to see that some people are fighting against all the bullshit in the world...)
Music: Brainstorm, Symphorce, Kamelot, Conception, Heavenly, Sabaton, System Of A Down, Sonata Arctica, Beyond Twilight, Masterplan, Alter Bridge, Sentenced, Evanescence, Sengir, Egypt Central, Symphony X, Queensryche, Secret Sphere, Within Temptation, Bullet For My Valentine, De Facto, Athena, The Gathering, Nightwish, Virgin Black, Disturbed, Iced Earth, Lost Horizon, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Hans Zimmer, the soundtrack of Spellforce, 80s music in general, and whatever else I forgot